This course looks at the emergent forms of digital art over the last 80 years with emphasis on the last two decades. We look at, read about, and discuss artworks given labels like: electronic art, new media art, sound art, interactive art, installation art, web art, game art, generative art and more.

This will be a collective investigation of the History of Digital Art. Over the ten weeks we will look at the most well known examples of Digital art while also seeking out those not quite so well known. We will work to expand upon a public body of knowledge, turning effort in the class into research for future students and scholars. We will look at 7 themes in digital art structured around the required text, "Art and Electronic Media"

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Designgraphik

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Designgraphik is a series of experimental interactive animations, the first of which was created in 1998. Nine total iterations have been created, the most recent of which was released in 2008.

Finding Eutaw and North

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Finding Eutaw and North is a 34-minute animation created in 2005 by WeWorkForThem, the collaboration of Michael Paul Young and Michael Cina. The piece consists of a series of a series of abstract vignettes of Young's 3D animation and Cina's audio work, which were mixed together live using custom software.

The piece combines abstract, dynamic architectural models with ambient music and audio samples, intended to convey an interpretation of “the mean streets of Baltimore”. Rather than an interpretation of the visual aspects of the city, Finding Eutaw and North is a response to “the mood, the lifestyle, the ideas, the language.”

 

Polygon Playground

Polygon Playground is a 'dynamic lounge object,' incorporating 3D projection technologies and sensors to detect movement and proximity of people in the room. The physical structure is such that up to 40 people may climb, rest, or walk around it, while sensors cause the 'landscape' to continuously change as as long as there is human presence. Often the imagery responds to movements, so running across the top of the structure may cause it to highlight the participants footsteps. Other motifs include grids, filling with water, orbs or color that can be 'kicked' around, and various abstract color forms.

Outerspace

4_outerspace_sample.jpgOuterspace is a reactive robotic creature with lifelike interactive behaviour. The robot wants to explore the world surrounding him, or the outer space, exhibiting curiosity and waryness as an aprehensive animal might. A participant may put a hand up to the robot and cause it to pull away, as if surprised at the recognition of another being, then move forward searching for the thing that caught it's attention. The concept that insprired the work was that an object, inherently not living, cannot have emotion. In order to create an emotional object (the goal), first the thing must be aroused, feel, have a emotion; then comes emotional expression. In technical terms, it must read input and display output.

Mappings

0ablackwhit3f9959f966.jpgBalint Bolygo's Mappings is a 2005 kinetic sculpture which utilizes the core aspects of the Bolygo’s ethos as an artist. In the sculpture/installation two pens rigged to outlying pendulums transcribe the motions taken by the pendulums onto a rotating sphere, or blank globe. Viewers can interact with the pendulums, pushing them to behave more erratically, or calming them to induce smoother lines. The resulting process essentially becomes the earth mapping its own forces onto a replica of itself, a truly interesting portrayal of mapmaking that encourages the viewer to consider the mass our planet, whose gravitational pull directs the motion of the pendulum and creates the drawings.

Trace

Bolygo’s take on the self portrait, Trace, is a 2008 sculptural device by the artist, which connects conventional ideas of sculpture, especially of the human form, to contemporary notions of topography and transcription. The piece involves a rotating cast of the artist's head traversed by an extension of a complex but completely mechanical device, which records depth onto a circular piece of paper rotating at the same rate as the head. The artist's own head is then transformed into a compelling topographical map of itself under rotation. The resulting image is noticeably a head, but a heavily distorted one, appearing almost like an image from a spirograph, an evolving concentric diagram of recorded depth.

Given Time

In Given Time, artist Nathaniel Stern utilizes different forms of media, but maintains his focus on the relationship between bodies and art. This this video installation, Stern created two avatars in Second Life who stand apart facing one another. Their location within the in-game world is never disclosed, but they do occupy virtual space somewhere. In physical space, the two avatars are projected onto screens opposite one another in the gallery, as in Second Life. Viewers can approach the two virtual performers, while they hover as video projections, forever staring at one another. These representational characters are in fact, nobody. They exist only in the virtual plane, yet they are brought into existence via light and electricity.

Compressionism

6206912899_5645817a99.jpgPart photography, part performance art filtered through an algorithmic structure, Nathaniel Stern's Compressionism uses a document scanner as the tool of choice, which takes on the dual roles of paintbrush and camera: as the scanner bulb moves along its path, the artist follows his own path hovering over various objects and textures. Sometimes linearly, sometimes erratically, he moves according to his own performative instincts. With this kinetic approach, Stern bridges a certain gap between his body and the end result.

Alma da Agua: A Fluid Water and Space Initiative

imagex989x775.jpgAlma da Agua (Water of the Soul) seeks to re-connect all Portuguese speaking contries. Taking water samples from the eight countries (Portugal, Brazil, Angola, Mozambique, Cape Verde, Guine-Bissau, Sao Tome e Principe, and East Timor), Artists Richard Clar and Dinis Afonso Ribeiro intend to send the water samples into space inside a liquid mixing apparatus (shown above). The idea is to expose the water to low-gravity and mix the waters in a symbolic way and in a neutral environment.

AH_Q

Ah_Q.jpgChinese new media artist Feng Mengbo has worked with iconic first person shooters Doom and Quake throughout his career. In Q3 (1999) Feng recorded footage of the game Quake III Arena and superimposed live action video of himself, toting a camera around the battlefield and interviewing contestants, over top. Feng expanded upon this idea in 2002's Q4U (a play on the common abbreviation for the game, Q3A) by completely reworking the game's code to replace all character models with a model of himself, bespecktacled and shirtless, with a gun in one hand and a video camera in the other. Feng's AH-Q, released in 2004 and pictured here, saw the addition of a dance pad used to control all the player character's motions.

The following video, produced by the Creator's Project, includes examples of Feng Mengbo's work and an interview with the artist.

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