Metavid

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Metavid
is a free-software site that hosts United States public domain legislative footage. Through closed-captioning text from a “simple Linux box”[1]that records “everything C-SPAN shoots,”[1] Metavid can provide “brief searchable clips”[1] of legislative footage. Online communities can engage with the audio and video media archives which are not usually viewed by the public but told second hand through other media outlets. Metavid captures a non-bias recording of legislative meetings so that the people can draw their own opinions and ideas. The close-captioned text allows users to quickly and easily search through the thousands of hours of archived footage so that all the related media appears in the search results.

Currently, Metavid hosts the “largest free and reusable archive of house and senate legislative footage”[1] which is made available through a partnership with archive.org. The online platform was launched in early 2006 under the advisement of University of California Santa Cruz’s Professor Warren Sack for Michael Dale and Abram Stern’s Digital Arts and New Media MFA thesis project. Metavid sparked interest in the United States House and Senate, and in 2010 the House launched their own online media content source following the Senate’s launch in 2011.

Metadata has inspired Abram Stern’s pieces. Other art projects Abram Stern has created surrounding metadata include Oversight Machines, Unburning 1D3001Part1 and Operational Character Rendition. In Operational Character Rendition, the project performs OCR or optical character recognition for low-resolution documents published by the SSCI (United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence). The data submitted on these documents is unsearchable since they are low-resolution pdf’s, and the metadata doesn’t correlate with the record. Operational Character Rendition analyzes the pdf file turning the picture of words into searchable results and accurate metadata.

Sources:

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metavid

Also informed by Stern’s guest-lecture in FILM189, UCSC, Feb 27, 2019.

r/place

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There is an empty canvas.

You may place a tile upon it, but you must wait to place another.

Individually you can create something.

Together you can create something more.

-r/place Reddit Announcement [1]

r/place (pronounced “ar slash place” or simply just “place”) is a collaborative art project created by the community of the website Reddit.com in April of 2017. r/place was a grid of one million pixels (1000×1000) that was initially completely white. Anyone with a reddit account could visit http://www.reddit.com/r/place between the first and third of April of 2017. Once there, users could pick a color, and place a single pixel of the chosen color anywhere on the grid, including pixels that other users had already filled in. Users were allowed to place additional pixels five to twenty minutes after each pixel they placed. r/place was hosted at http://www.reddit.com/r/place, and while the page still exists, users can no longer participate in the project and instead the subreddit is now dedicated to people simply talking about r/place.

r/place was created by the admins and moderators of Reddit as their yearly april fools joke. These april fools jokes are usually social experiments that involve as much of the Reddit community as possible, one of the most notible before r/place was r/thebutton in which there was a page with a button and a countdown timer, if any user pushed the button, the countdown would reset and that user would recieve a flair next to their username that showed how much time was left on the timer when they pushed the button. Nobody knew what would happen when the countdown reached 0, all that was known was that everyone could push the button once and doing so would reset the countdown for literally everyone. The result of this was that communities formed around the button, some people took pride in never pushing the button, whereas others took pride in pushing the button when the countdown was as close to as 0 as possible.

r/place also resulted in communities forming within the project as well, but to a much more notible degree than r/the button. This is because of the fact that in order to create an image on r/place an entire community was completely necessary. Since each user could only place one2-3.jpg pixel every five to twenty minutes, most of the individual images on r/place were contributed to by hundreds of users, not to mention the fact that many images had to be redrawn or “defended” since users could place their pixels over pixels that others had already placed. Many of the largest images in place were created by existing communities on reddit, for example the big red box with black text in the center-top of the canvas is a Star Wars quote created by r/PrequelMemes, a community dedicated to making memes of the star wars prequel trilogy. Some communities also formed with the sole purpose of creating something on r/place, such as r/MonaLisaClan who wanted a recreation of the Mona Lisa in r/place and /rTheBlueCorner, a community dedicated to making the bottom right corner of the canvas as blue as possible.

The final image is a chaotic, detailed, and intriguing work of net art, but I think part of what made r/place so unique was that it was constantly changing, as there are tons of images that made their way onto r/place that did not end up in the final state of the canvas. Thankfully, there are plenty of timelapses showing exactly how this jumbled chaotic image emerged from giving over a million people the ability to add to a single canvas one pixel at a time.

The work has historical precedents in Roy Ascott’s La Plissure du Texte (1988) and Andy Deck’s Glyphiti (2001).

References:

[1] https://www.reddit.com/r/announcements/duplicates/62mesr/place/

Under

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Martina Amati is a London-based artist and filmmaker that has worked with water as one of her main subjects. She developed the installation film “Under” with Kevin Fong, a scientist and a physiology professor at University College London.(1) She has various shots of people floating in water. She uses low frequency echoing sounds to create stability in the background and also to help enhance the spatial temporal depth of the film.(2) Amati uses the varying tones of blue to evoke a sense of calmness that amalgamates with both the ambient and manufactured sounds to reflect off each other a more profound sensation of surreal peace. 

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The audience is able to feel a sense of peace that a “freediver” would feel when completely submerging themselves into the water. (3)Toward the end of the film, the mermaid characters arrive, which coincides with the introduction of a high pitched ting sound that seizes our attention. Subsequently, the background slowly rises into a crescendo foreshadowing the end of the experience and the film. The use of negative space within the film reinforces the spatial temporal reality of the “freedivers” experience in the ocean. The screen in the installation acts as a painting in motion and the sounds further enhance the depth of the experience. Amati and Fong are making artwork that is a modern visual painting that makes the viewers have more of an immersive experience. 

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Amati and Fong's work is like a modern version of “Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending” painting but his work is rather an abstract version of a person in motion.(4) The divers in Amati and Fong's work are being illuminated by the sun beaming through the ocean. This gives the images a more directional light that has dark empty space that surrounds the subject that is similar to a chiaroscuro painting.(5)

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The dark walls of the exhibit help to further engulf the audience deeper into this spatial reality. Amati and Fong are visual painters that use the cameras technical ability to capture twenty four frames a second of a subject in motion. They are a modern artist using motion and light to capture an audience. The main difference that separates Amati and Fong is their ability to collaborate and use Fong’s expertise in science to consult and enhance Amati vision as a filmmaker. The exhibition room is large enough to feel like the audience is at an aquarium looking through glass. Amati and Fong worked together using ideas of having an “holistic experience of being at one with the ocean.”(6) Overall, this installation clearly displays this sense of tranquility that both the artist and scientist were striving to create.

1)https://wellcomecollection.org/installations/Wrynhx8AAAjk9XX-

2)https://www.under-installation.com/films

3)https://wellcomecollection.org/installations/Wrynhx8AAAjk9XX-

4)Art and Electronic Media Edward A. Shanken Pg.17

5)Art and Electronic Media Edward A. Shanken Pg.18

6)https://wellcomecollection.org/installations/Wrynhx8AAAjk9XX-

In Order to Control

“What is it to be free? Are you free at all?”[1]  These are just some of the questions asked to the participants in the interactive installation created by Nota Bene, an Istanbul-based creative studio.  The artwork titled “In Order to Control,” features a continuous loop of digital text sprawled across the floor, littered with moral and ethical questions such as, “Everything that’s legal is not always fair,” and “Everything that’s fair is not always legal.”[2]  As spectators step over the sea of Nota Bene’s ethos, their silhouette on the wall takes to life and is transposed with the scrolling typography. 

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However, this is not a magic trick, but a wonderful use and display of “projection mapping and body scanning technology,”[3] that presents the spectator with a personalized view of the text.  Although, because of the speed of the text, the participants must join together in order to grasp the full scope of the text and the questions being asked.  This places not only the individual in the position of inhabiting these moral and ethical ideas and questions, but promotes the banding together of individuals, encouraging critical analysis and reflection on these values as a whole.

Screen%20Shot%202019-02-24%20at%207.06.4There are various works of art that are using and have used intractability of light projection in order to engage their audience with the work itself or to display an image with the illusion of tactility.  However, projections as such are not a recent innovation, but rather began as early as the 17th century, stemming from the invention of a device known as the Magic Lantern.  The Magic Lantern, “used a concave mirror behind a light source to direct as much of the light as possible through a small rectangular sheet of glass – the magic lantern slide – on which was the painted or photographic image to be projected – and onward into a lens at the front. The lens was adjusted to focus at the distance of the projection screen or wall.”[4] 

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These techniques were then used with the incorporation of mechanisms that allowed for fast changes of glass panels, giving the image the illusion of movement. Magic Lantern projectionists would then paint glass panels with transparent oils, and project images images through them, giving the illusions that the image was suspended in mid air.[5]  Furthermore, throughout the years the technology behind these projectors has obviously improved, however, artists continue to use similar techniques to achieve similar illusions.

 

Screen%20Shot%202019-02-24%20at%207.09.5One such work that uses projection in a similar way to “In Order to Control,” as well as the primitive techniques used in Magic Lantern shows is a video project known as “Love is in The Air.”  Matt Robinson and Tom Wrigglesworth, are the creative minds behind the project, which incorporates a computer animation projected between two lovers, using their breath as a projection screen to display the image and interact with said image.  Wrigglesworth stated in an interview that, "The couple took it in turns to breath out so that their breaths intercepted the projection beam.

 

Anywhere that light was coming through would light up the breath and make the image clear."[6] Moreover, the projection displays a cartoonesque animation that uses motion and metamorphosis of graphics, such as turning a unicorn into a heart that the man blows towards the woman.  Furthermore, this provides a visualization and representation of love, through the interaction of the two participants, literally suspending their “love” in midair.

Both Nota Bene, as well as Robinson and Wrigglesworth use the techniques that were developed from the Magic Lantern in order to display their fantastical imagery to the admirers of their works, both paying homage, as well as expanding and growing from the innovations of their predecessors.  Each one of these artists, from the first projectionists of the Magic Lantern, to the continually expanding world of projection and other technologies, have brought their stories, ideas, and questions to life, to share and enable reflection, assessment, and provide entertainment for all that wish to commend.

[1] – "In Order to Control." NOTA BENE Visual | Digital Experiences. Accessed February 25, 2019. http://www.notabenevisual.com/works/in-order-to-control.

[2] – "In Order to Control." NOTA BENE Visual | Digital Experiences. Accessed February 25, 2019. http://www.notabenevisual.com/works/in-order-to-control.

[3] – "Application Stuff." Research I: In Order to Control. Accessed February 25, 2019. http://ideate.xsead.cmu.edu/gallery/projects/research-1-in-order-to-control.

[4] – "Magic Lantern (17th Century – 1940s)." Museum of Obsolete Media. January 03, 2019. Accessed February 25, 2019. https://obsoletemedia.org/magic-lantern/.

[5] – Barber, X. Theodore. "Phantasmagorical Wonders: The Magic Lantern Ghost Show in Nineteenth-Century America." Film History3, no. 2 (1989): 76. http://www.jstor.org/stable/3814933.

[6] – "Wriggles & Robins : Love Is in the Air." Ad Age. Accessed February 25, 2019. https://adage.com/creativity/work/love-air/30756.

Profession- Animal Communicator

Communication and telepathy with non-human animals is a disputable subject that has not been extensively researched, but has sparked curiosity in humans for thousands of years. Other animals bring us a wealth of joy and fascination, making it no surprise that alternate ways of communication with them are being developed and explored, due to humans not being able to directly understand non-human animal vocals. 

Rebecca Loyche’s Profession-Animal Communicator is an experimental video that features overlaid clips of various species of animals, including pets as well as wild animals. It is complemented with a recorded interview from a professional communicator “with over twenty years of experience, estimating that she has done over twenty-four thousand consultations to date.” [1]

Loyche explains that many of the pet and animal clips shown in her video were posts found on the Internet, and that “the Internet is overflowing with daily feeds of cute creature shenanigans, majestic wildlife footage, the ever-patient pet as family member, and examples of the personification of animals.” [2] Additionally, she filmed footage of rural animals she encounters on a regular basis. The availability and ease of finding these clips demonstrates the important role that animals play in humans' lives, and being able to communicate with them could further strengthen our relationship with them.

figure1__1_2%20copy.jpgIn his essay, Roy Ascott states that cybernetics is "the study of control and communication in animal and machine", [3] two groups of beings that humans strive to learn more about. The root of cybernetics stems from receiving feedback and having achieved a goal; as pictured in the diagram, we can decipher that the sender crow is releasing information into its environment to the receiving crow as well as a non-target audience. Thus, the receiving crow is expected to make a decision and dispatch information back to the sender crow. When humans attempt to communicate with non-human animals, it is not definite that they will receive a verbal response; however, non-verbal responses are probable. 

In Loyche's work, the communicator elaborates on the extensive number of animals she has been able to communicate with, and some of their messages to her. She states that some of the injured birds of prey have conveyed that they just wanted to be set free, while other animals in rehabilitation understood that they needed assistance in healing and were compliant with human interaction. The communicator conveys that “animals are very comfortable with telepathy and [do not] have the cultural bias that [humans] do; they’re really receptive to humans who communicate telepathically.” [4]

Through her given medium of video, Loyche is able to portray the animals in motion and from a first-person point of view, thus allowing the viewer to garner a more personal sentiment, rather than if the given medium had been static, such as a photograph or installation. 

Loyche is a New York, Berlin, and Germany-based conceptual artist who mainly focuses on video, photography, installation, and sound that questions our perception of everyday life. With various mediums, "she examines the relationships of power dynamics, the language of communication and the effects of creating environments." [5]

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[1] [2] http://www.rebeccaloyche.com/index.php/video-work/profession-animal-communicator 
[3] Ascott, Roy. "The Cybernetic Stance: My Process and Purpose." Leonardo 1, no. 2 (1968): 105. doi:10.2307/1571947.
[4] https://vimeo.com/187329313
[5] http://www.rebeccaloyche.com/index.php/info/artist-information/

Polarseeds

1869078.jpgTHE POLARSEEDS PROJECT: COMMUNICATING GREENLAND MELTING THROUGH VISUALIZATION AND SONIFICATION

      Marco Tedesco, associate professor of earth and atmospheric sciences at the City College of New York, noted the beauty of climate science, such as flooding, cloud structure, and melting ice. To make climate science more attractive, he and his colleagues have jointly developed a research project called "Polarseeds" to present the diverse art of climate science through visual arts, music, and games.[1]

1773283.pngGoals of the game

Minimize the ice cap melt&subsequent sea level rise!

For observers to communicate how the effect of albedo can cause snow and ice to melt. The artists create a game located in a public space & whose mechanics serve as an allegory of the difficulties of addressing climate change, and the game does not have an ending. This game allows individual player can only make a small contribution to the progress of the game overall.

How to play: 1. Clicking on the clouds will cause them more opaque and slows down melting by blocking the sun's radiation. 2. Continuing clicking on the clouds will cause them to either snow or rain depending on the temperature.

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The development of art is intertwined with the progress of science. The integration and innovation of art and science is an essential embodiment of the scientific concept of evolution in cultural construction. It is also an important part of the contemporary world cultural construction. It is not only the support of all kinds of original designs but also the development of creative industries. This project by a group of scientists professional and young artist demonstrated a successful case of multidisciplinary cooperation.

Artists composed different sounds for different eras to document the climate and the ice melting data. For example, the lower tones of a droning chord become increasingly accentuated as surface reflectivity decreases (darker, lower albedo values).  A greater range of frequencies at both ends of the spectrum is also progressively allowed to pass through hi & lo-pass filters as albedo values decline.  Low frequencies are equated with dark ice.

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At the exhibit, many modifications of the model outputs were available at computer stations together with the explanation of the different approaches undertaken to generate them. Large aerial photos of supraglacial streams and lakes over Greenland were exhibited together with infographics addressing some of the causes and implications of melting. Videos showing either footage of melting features or the impact of albedo on melting (through ad hoc experiments carried out in the laboratory and filmed for the exhibit) were also exhibited. Lastly, the visitors had the opportunity to play an interactive web game developed for the project in which they had to balance the number of clouds, solar radiation, rain, and snow to keep the Greenland ice sheet from melting completely and flood New York City.[2]

[1]https://www.polarseeds.org/

[2]http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2013AGUFMPA52A..04T

Comments:

Very interesting article! I would love to see the game in action with some gameplay though, so I can get a better idea of how the game is meant to be played. -Hyperactivity

Deep Sleep Trawler

artworks-000078803702-0cvqgl-t500x500.jpPart 1 of the piece can be found here; part 2 can be found here.

As the digital artist in residence at Forth Valley Royal Hospital in Scotland, sound artist Mark Vernon created a series of four sound art pieces, called "Bedside Radio," designed to be played over the hospital's radio station, Radio Royal. [1] The third of these pieces, Deep Sleep Trawler, was created in 2012 "with the intention of creating a database or 'dream bank' to provide sleep deprived hospital patients with the opportunity of sharing someone else's dreams." [2] In collaboration with the hospital, Vernon interviewed personnel and patients in the hospital about their dreams and connected the recordings by the common themes and images that appeared in the dreams of separate individuals. Vernon also uses music and sound effects to reinforce what the speakers are saying and aid in the creation of a dreamlike atmosphere.

artworks-000078869922-sehdek-t500x500.jpIn this piece, Vernon showcases the strange coincidence of images in the dreams of separate people, which reveals the commonality of the basic human experience of sleeping and dreaming. In doing so, Vernon creates a sort of single, universal dream, that practically any listener can connect with. The title makes reference to trawling, a method of fishing in which a large net is slowly pulled behind a boat. This clearly establishes Vernon's intent with this project: to trawl the dreams of a variety of people and merge the result into a single, cohesive dream. Vernon, on his Soundcloud profile, separates the piece into two parts: the first part is what was actually broadcast over the hospital's radio station, and the second part is made up of material "considered too disturbing for hospital patients and Radio Royal listeners." [3] The first part captures dreaming as a whole, showing both the pleasant and the unsettling side of the dream experience. Many of the experiences described, such as falling from great heights or being submerged in water, are very common dream occurrences that many listeners will find relatable. Vernon concludes the first part with several interviewees describing very positive dreams, and feeling comforted by the memory of the dream. The second part, however, is generally much more nightmarish, with interviewees often describing extreme panic or terror. Both parts together are emblematic of the power that dreams really hold over our lives, whether they comfort us or haunt us.

Images included are the thumbnails for parts 1 & 2 of the piece on Vernon's Soundcloud profile, created in 2011-13 by Lindsay Perth for her publication A Sense of Someplace.

[1]http://meagreresource.com/bedside-radio/

[2]http://meagreresource.com/deep-sleep-trawler/

[3]https://soundcloud.com/markvernon/deep-sleep-trawler-part-2/

Song of the Phenomena

Chris Henschke is a digital artist from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Henschke studies scientific concepts like physics, sound, ight, etc.[2] Together with Mark Boland, an Australian Synchrotron physicist, they collaborated on an exhibit called "Song of the Phenomena", which was displayed in the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology Gallery on November 17th, 2016.[1] "Song of the Phenomena" includes a machine that is activated by atomic radiating particles emitting from decomposing fruit. The data is then converted into sound. The machine was once used to calibrate radiation oncology treatments by the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency. It is unknown whether the machine was sold or donated to Henschke after the machine's retirement.

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This is a perfect example of a collaboration between scientist and non-scientist, or art and technology, in order to create an innovative exhibition. Boland says that Henschke "has the same level of professionalism and tenacity as an artist as a physicist does." They both went to the University of Melbourne and have a shared interest in physics, despite Henschke going to school for Sound Design.

I believe Song of the Phenomena is classified as a "Cybernetic Device" based on the categories in Cybernetic Serendipity.[5] When I saw this piece, my first thought was "What does it do?", as Billy Kluver would have expected someone to say. Then I realized Kluver's point in which art explores irrationalities and possibilities rather than the actual purpose.[4] Why measure the decaying fruit? How come the readings are converted into sound, of all things? I was looking at it from an engineering standpoint when I should've been looking at it from an artistic one.

Much like the exhibition "Cybernetic Serendipity", none of the visitors will know if the exhibition was created by an artist, engineer, mathematician, or architect. Instead, they are presented with the sound that the machine once made in a scientific environment, tuned to an artist's perspective. Though the machine is now useless in a production setting, it is returned as a musical and visual art using the same concept of radiation. 

The line between science and art is still a bold one. However, artists and scientist must work together in order to tap into each department's full potential. Artists rely on an engineer's laboratories and experiments, while engineers must rely on an artist's insight and ability to question. In the case of Song of the Phenomena, cybernetic art would not have been explored without Henscke, while the machine would have not been created/existed without Boland's work. The combination of Henscke insight and Boland's work signifies a true collaboration between science and art. 

Sources: 

1. https://www.symmetrymagazine.org/article/art-intimates-physics

2. https://thearticle.com.au/2017/10/song-of-the-phenomena-expelling-demons-from-within/

3. https://art.rmit.edu.au/calendar/white-night-morbis-artis/rmit-morbis_artis-0067/

4. Notes by an Engineer[1967] by Billy Kluver. 

5. Cybernetic Serendipity [1968] by Jasia REICHARDT

 

CAPSID

In 2015, London-based artist John Walter premiered his multimedia project Alien Sex Club, which sought to explore the relationship between visual culture and HIV as well as open a public discussion about this often-taboo topic.  But even after Alien Sex Club had its final exhibitions, Walter felt that there was still more to say on the connection between art and the nature of viruses.

Three years later, Walter, alongside his collaborator at University College London (UCL), Professor Greg Towers, presented his new multimedia project CAPSID, featuring a short film titled A Virus Walks Into a Bar, which pulls the "bar" motif of British soap operas to present an analogous tale of how HIV enters human cells and destroys them from within [1].

Walter spent those three years in UCL's Towers Lab, studying under Professor Towers to better understand the interactions between a virus and its host, specifically HIV-1 and the effect of AIDS on the human body's immune system.  His meticulous research is shown in the presentation of the HIV capsid, which is a protein shell surrounding the virus and acting as a "sphere of invisibilty," preventing its DNA from being detected by the immune system [1].

In A Virus Walks Into a Bar, the HIV character within his capsid is initially barred from entry into the bar (white blood cell) by the bouncers, figuring him to be a troublemaker, but is allowed in by a few friendly chaps who presume that the new guy just needs a few pints to warm him up.  As HIV's DNA progresses through the bar, with some pushback by other patrons (cytoplasmids, proteins, etc.), he eventually reaches the "bartender" – the cell's nucleus.  And then, he singlehandedly takes control of the cell by replacing the "bartender," allowing himself to replicate and take over more "bars" [1].

A-Virus-Walks-Into-a-Bar-785x486.jpg?resAlthough the idea of equating a real life visual motif, such as a pub, to a microscopic topic like HIV seems too eccentric to be factually sound, CAPSID is, at its core, scientifically rooted.  During its production, Walter became invested in the scientific basis of Towers' research, immersing himself in intellectual discourse with undergraduate students and participating in the lab's science outreach programs.  This was a unique opportunity for Professor Towers' team to approach their research from different perspectives, and challenged them to introspectively question their own investigations.  Professor Towers himself actively engaged in the discussion with Walter about the artistic merit of his research as well.  This surprising role-reversal produced spectacular results, as Walter mixed elements of scientific jargon and factual observations to craft other analogous artifacts for his pieces [1]. 

Although, this is not as surprising as one may first think; much like 9 Evenings by E.A.T., the artist and the scientist seemed to share an understanding that they each possess elements of Techné and Agnos, and that equal contribution by both parties would form a greater whole result [2].

4superhe855638a8_c.jpg?w=800In one portion of his exhibit, Walter took the likenesses of pop culture characters and corporate logos to act as co-factors (the protein particles in cells that allow the capsid access to the nucleii).  In another, plush toys and silicon foreskin are framed as the defense mechanism in cells that detect and kill foreign material.  Through these paintings and installations, Walter's work not only uncovers new ways of expressing how HIV behaves, but presents his findings in a way that the non-scientifically inclined can understand.  Additionally, with the collaboration between John Walter and Professor Greg Towers, this exhibition displays an uncommon situation in new media – the infection of science into the art world, and art into the oft-secluded science community [1].

The final exhibition of Walter's CAPSID was displayed on January 6, 2019, but his official site with more information can be found here.

Sources:

[1] Regine. “A Virus Walks into a Bar. Or How Art and Science Can Infect Each Other.” We Make Money Not Art, 4 Dec. 2018, http://we-make-money-not-art.com/a-virus-walks-into-a-bar-or-how-art-and-science-can-infect-each-other/.

[2] Shanken, Edward A. Art and Electronic Media. Phaidon, 2014.

Walter, John. CAPSID | Multi-Media Maximalist Installation by London-Based British Artist John Walter, http://www.johnwalter.net/capsid/.

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Digital Instru-Mentation: Red Forest and Emblems of Ascension

"The trouble with digital electronics is that you can't make it act pathological."

[Un-attributable personal communication from Tim Perkis, c. 1984, founding member of the The League of Automatic Music Composers — Tim claims he never said this…I claim I heard him say it].

The quote above reflects the difficulty that analog electronic musicians had in "perverting [the] technological correctness" (Rafael Lozano-Hemmer) of early computer equipment. It either worked, doing whatever its builders intended it to do, or it crashed into a steaming pile; very seldom could it be coerced into doing some-other-interesting-thing. Artists working with analog electronics were allowed a wider range of 'mistakes' due to the relative robustness of the signals involved.

For example Woody and Steina Vasulka's interest in the video waveform itself allowed vast areas of manipulation, granted that first one had to be in sync with the signal, as demonstrated in the program of Steina's video works presented at Currents 2015. Gordon Mumma's Hornpipe is perhaps a clearer example. It is a linked feedback system of space, performer, and instrument, where one component of the instrument is a "cybersonic" box of self-tuning analog filters. The filters could make 'mistakes' which the performer could enhance by playing the room's acoustics.

Now, finally, it seems that the digital is achieving the plasticity of clay, paint on canvas, or even analog electronics. Several Currents 2015 participants have developed, or cobbled together, computer based tools which provide the robustness needed to just dig in and explore and experiment with the material at hand. It's much like the shift from the brush of a Mannerist painter to the sponge of a Max Ernst frottage.

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For Red Forest, Robert Campbell described "Mining the After Effects [a post-Freudian reference to one of the pieces of software he uses] of intentional actions," as a working process and, on a larger scale, as the intent of his work.

The piece is a six-screen display of slowly morphing overlapped imagery which pass from screen to screen quietly illuminating man's effect on the environment, especially with reference to the Chernobyl disaster.

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Yolande Harris and Bob Campbell
discussing Red Forest

Campbell starts with real-world images and experiments with them until his artistic instincts find a trail to follow through the maze of functions. Earlier iterations of this trail-blazing would have been unlikely to see the forest for the trees of highly technical problems to be solved. He uses the results of his explorations to elucidate the (un)intended consequences of human processes in the world around us.

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For Emblems of Ascension, the NoiseFold team of Cory Metcalf and David Stout have developed a gigantic library of software modules for synthesizing and modeling both sound and image under the rubric of the Max/MSP programming environment. Their ten-year collaboration has given them tools and interfaces which allow the exploration of myriad links made in and between the components. Once a system of modules has been established it can be mined for interesting and evocative connections that are turned into multiple 'finished' works. I put finished in quotes because, by the very nature of being produced in the system's real time operation, the work is always being created anew.

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NoiseFold: Cory (in light blue top and David (to his right, in black top) discuss Emblems of Ascension with the Currents seminar, "Thinking and Writing about New Media."

In this multi-screen image and sound installation NoiseFold has assembled a set of modules which produce digital simulations of spinning particle fields that explore the interplay between inertia, noise and force of attraction. The sound is generated in response to the images through a complex system of relationships, creating one integrated whole.

With this progress in tools we can start to imagine an actual collaboration between humans and machines where, rather than participating in a one-way struggle, each contribute what they do best in a two-way dialog. And once these collaborative systems are established, their collective behavior will become more interesting than any particular 'finished work'.

Links:

Robert Campbell website, Red Forest
NoiseFold website

Two Women

It’s dark inside the Currents New Media exhibition hall. I navigate a path that steers clear of wall mounted screens of exploding color and groups of people lying on the floor, or holding cables and interacting with devices, and children waving arms, their movements projected on the wall, watching themselves while their parents watch them. I want to be absorbed in someone else’s story and not watch myself, for a minute. I want to get lost. Take me to the cinema but let me drift in and out of focus. I make my way to a room within the hall. In an arena of special effects, audio-visual escape, transcendence, humor and irony I am drawn to the tragic and intimate. Ha Na Lee and James Hughes' new media installation Two Women is a fragmented, poetic narrative based on the suicide of Lee’s grandmother. It is dark, too depressing according to Korean friends of Hughes and Lee, who reviewed the installation prior to its premier at the festival

Two women: one is young, angelic, billowing and dream like; the other alternates between the fetal position and the floating corpse pose.

IMG_6252.jpgtwo%20women%20still%201.jpgSide by side, the wood framed vessels into which the the images are projected and submerged in water, read as both boat and coffin. Like flowers dropped from the installation’s peeling wallpaper or the Chinese screens described by the narrator as she recounts a dream that turns into a nightmare, the water is the source of life of death. What doesn’t kill you makes you strong. In Two Women, the gasping for air is visceral as the older woman contorts her body and I, the witness, listen to her story in Korean, read it in English and hear the stylus punctuate it into fabric as Morse code, the universal language associated with distress. Lee’s grandmother is a ship lost at sea, still transmitting, her story, carried through time by memory and repetition.

IMG_6258.jpgIMG_6259.jpgThe hows and whys of Two Women are endless. The story of Lee’s grandmother becomes Ophelia’s story and the question of madness. It transcends gender and becomes the story of the veteran with post-traumatic stress or the overworked software engineer working for Samsung. The installation glances at the past is at first beautiful light-filled and cinematic. It lures me into the environment where I witness the psychic collision of cultural compliance, repression and the gasping for air required to save oneself from systems that hover between security and a chokehold.

IMG_6260.jpgIMG_6261.jpgLee’s story alludes to the dis-connect in the soul that transcends software and logical systems of communication. "The work explores several possible ways to understand her death:kinetic machines tabulate and archive suicide-related data; channels of video portray images such as a drowning woman, narration is by an elderly woman who describes her room, a dream about a room with machines, and a fantasy of her younger self drowning"wrote Lee and Hughes in their statement accompanying the installation.

29 out of 100 deaths in Korea are attributed to suicide, ranking it among the highest suicide rate per capita in the industrialized world. Despite Korea's technological innovation and global contributions toward connectivity and access to a collective voice, we still have Lee’s story of her grandmother’s suicide echoing through. Home to Samsung and Hyundai, social progress and affluence haven't cured alienation in Korea, or elsewhere. Ironically, reports of suicides are frequently censored or underplayed by the media in order to prevent a wave effect of more sucides. https://data.oecd.org/healthstat/suicide-rates.htm

In The Dang-Daily News, October 3, 1933, a woman throws herself in front of a train. “The situation was terrible and unbearable to witness. “ Distress. SOS. The ship goes down and memory keeps tapping. Lee and Hughes installation glances at the past, yearns for understanding, but confronts the unknowable with cool media force- newsreports, film, personal story, theatrical lighting, language, code. Two Women becomes the story of despair, futility and the persistance of the unknown regarding the emotional life of another, no matter how many systems we put in place. I, like the narrator, listen for my own scream, the collective scream, the scream that cannot be tabulated, coded, predicted or understood no matter how much data is collected. 

http://currentsnewmedia.org/work/two-women/

http://hanalee.me/projects/projects/twowomen.html

A Sound Garden

A Sound Garden, by Douglas Hollis, is an installation of 12 tower-like structures in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Seattle location, near Warren G. Magnuson Park on Lake Washington, a few miles northeast of the University of Washington [1]. It is a part of that NOAA facility's Art Walk, which contains 4 other pieces in addition to A Sound Garden [3]. The structures contain pipes that generate a wide variety of sounds, depending on how fast the wind is blowing and in which direction [2]. As the area that A Sound Garden is usually windy and the winds can vary greatly, you'll almost always hear something if you pay the piece a visit and you're unlikely to hear it play the same patterns of sounds if you visit it more than once. Actually visiting it doesn't come without hurdles, though: Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, the NOAA facility and all of the art pieces on it, including this one, have been placed under semi-restricted access. It can still be visited for free, but there are a lot of things you can't bring with you and any bags you carry will be searched on entrance to the facility [1] [2].

origin.jpgAlthough the pitches and "notes" played by the pipes vary a lot, the sounds generated by the pipes almost always sound similar, as they would for any instrument: The notes usually take the form a loud, whistling, moaning, howling sound, which can be both beautiful and a little bit eerie to listen to.

Though there are five pieces of Art on the NOAA Art Walk, A Sound Garden is by far the most popular. In part, this is because the sound aspect of it makes it the most interesting but it is also notorious because The Seattle Grunge band Soundgarden named itself after it[3]. Viewpoint Terrace or Berth Haven are not very good names for a band!

The artist, Douglas Hollis, who styles himself as a "Sound Sculptor" [3] has done many other aeolian public art projects, including Singing Bridges on the Niagara River and Aeolean Harp (2013, video below) at the Exploratorium on Pier 15 in San Francisco [3].

[1] http://wikimapia.org/1892574/The-Sound-Garden

[2] http://www.seattle.gov/parks/magnuson/art.htm#noaa

[3] http://www.seattle.gov/parks/magnuson/docs/NOAA_art_walk_brochure.pdf

Net Blow-Up

SetWidth420-IMG239.jpgThe Net Blow-Up exhibit, by croatian-austrian design collective Numen/For Use, is a highly interactive sculpture evoking nostalgia from the bouncy-castles of our youth.  “Although the history of art has cultishly celebrated the individual genius, the field increasingly has recognized the importance of exhibitions, institutions and communities in shaping the production, reception and historical contextualization of art.” [1] This collaborative effort is humble, playful and simple in a way that is a necessary counterpoint to the pretentiousness that feeds the majority of modern art.  I do not intend to belittle the cutting edge; I just mean that without exhibits like Net Blow-Up the world of art would be a lot less fun.

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Net Blow-Up should be viewed from the outside and inside, because each point of view has unique traits.  From the inside the work is in motion, using ropes as gridlines that stretch the side of the walls and adjust to the awkwardness of people traversing the nets.  I imagine experiencing the inside through a veil of childish naïveté, feeling a bit silly and giggling as others stumble around.  From the outside, the structure is basically an inflatable balloon-like blob that looks like a giant pile of gooey marshmallows.  At night, the multicolored lights cast shadows of the explorers on the walls reminding me of those magic lamps for kids.

Shadows

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Magic Lamp

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Tape Florence

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Numen/For-Use has two different versions of the net exhibit in Berlin and Belgium.  They seem to enjoy taking an idea and recreating it in several locations a bit differently each time.  The Tape installations are another example of a fully immersive style of contemporary art.  This time the team uses many different types of packaging tape to create an elevated spider web of tunnels throughout the chosen space.  These works are equally playful but less child-like.  The insides look like a cross between a wormhole from a sci-fi movie and the spiders cave in a fantasy novel.  Either way the structures created have and unbelievable creation process and outcome.

Creation Process

Exterior View

Interior View

[1] Edward  A. Shanken, Art and Electronic Media, Page 182.

A Bell for Every Minute

 

3628223961_e3a769be09.jpg“A Bell for Every Minute” is a sound installation by artist Stephen Vitiello, located on the High Line in New York City. Vitiello recorded 59 bells from all over New York City. These include landmark bells such New York Stock Exchange bell, the Dreamland Bell, the United Nation’s Peace Bell, and more common, everyday bells such as bike bells, diner bells, and church bells. Vitiello placed speakers throughout the 14th Street Passage, a tunnel between West 13th and West 14th Streets. Each minute, a bell rings from the speakers. At the top of each hour, all of the different bells ring at once in a chorus that fills the space. The installation includes a physical map that shows the geographic location of each of the bells and allows listeners to follow the journey the recordings take throughout the city each hour. [1]

 

 

 

p8115492.jpgBecause the bells are sounds captured throughout the daily life in New York, the installation can be considered a “microcosm” of the urban landscape. [1] Vitiello points out in a video that during the chorus of the bells different cultures are being represented at the same time, as there is a Christian church bell and a Jewish church bell. Other sounds represent moving things, such as the cat’s bell and a ship’s bell. [2] The use of sound to create a microcosm of demographics and events is reminiscent of the installation “Sanctum” by James Coupe and Juan Pampin, at the Henry Art Gallery at the University of Washington, which includes speakers that play many different voices simultaneously, generated from a collection of Facebook profiles. [3]

Video:

[1] Vitiello, Stephen. “Stephen Vitiello: A Bell for Every Minute.” High Line Art. n.p., n.d. Web.

09 Nov. 2013. http://art.thehighline.org/project/stephenvitiello/

[2] “Stephen Vitiello: A Bell for Every Minute.” YouTube. n.p., 05 Jul. 2010. Web. 10 Nov. 2013.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8nymgN5MuDI

[3] “Sanctum.” Henry Art Gallery. n.p., n.d. Web. 10 Nov. 2013.

http://henryart.org/exhibitions/upcoming/1184

Hello World! Or: How I Learned to Stop Listening and Love the Noise

Hello World! Or: How I Learned to Stop Listening and Love the Noise

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Hello World! is a large-scale audio visual installation comprised of thousands of unique video diaries gathered from the internet. The project is a meditation on the contemporary plight of democratic, participative media and the fundamental human desire to be heard. [1]

“Hello World! Or: How I Learned to Stop Listening and Love the Noise” is a purposefully overwhelming work by Christopher Baker.  Hello World is the first program that is traditionally taught in any programming language, and How I Learned to Stop Listening and Love the Noise references the Stanley Kubrick film Dr. Strangelove.   The installation tries to capture the vast archive of one-person narratives that exist on the Internet and emphasize them as a collective whole rather than as individuals.  This work “exemplifies the long and distinguished history of artistic attempts to democratize media by enabling users to participate as ‘content-providers,’ rather than as passive consumers of pre-fabricated entertainments and commercial messages.” [2] Contrary to the tradition the users made these videos without any intention of participation, which draws influence from a New Media category Digital Archivalism. 

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Baker encourages active participation by using projectors rather than a large video monitor.  The viewer can then walk up to the wall and be drawn into the collage as the video is projected on to them.  The voices of the narrators create a wall of sound projected from separate speakers.  As the viewer changes locations the sound focuses in on different individuals but always returns to the symphony of monologues.

There are many examples of contemporary works that “Hello World!” is similar to, and certainly the one I am most familiar with is Sanctum.  Both exhibits play with a variation of the personal narrative, observer/observed, interactivity, Digital Archivalism and have a similar cadence to their sonic intents.  I have discussed these in higher detail here.  “Sanctum” focuses on surveillance as the means for data collection where “Hello World…” draws from passionate individuals recording a candid statement speaking directly to the viewer.  As a result they resonate very differently; “Sanctum” (although masterfully created) leaves you feeling like the network of social media is a complex web of lies, while “Hello World!” tends to balance loneliness with connectivity by showing you genuine people expressing honest thoughts.

[1] http://christopherbaker.net/projects/helloworld/

[2] Edward  A. Shanken, Art and Electronic Media, Page 32.

Sonic Water

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“Sonic Water,” by artists Sven Meyer and Kim Pörksen, is an interactive installation that explores the visualization of sound though water. [1] Earlier this year the piece was exhibited at the Photography Playground in Berlin, Germany and was created by Meyer and Pörksen through the Laboratory for Water Sound Images. [2] Sonic Water is categorized as a “Cymatic Installation” which is art that uses substances such as sand, water etc to visualize sound. [3] In Sonic Water’s case, water is obviously used. The installation has a pre-recorded projection of captured images, however the really interesting part of the piece comes from the interactive element of it. Individuals are able to walk up to a container of water, which is set atop speakers, and introduce their own input sound whether it’s their voice, a song recording or another sound source. The result of these sound vibrations is unique patterns in the water that are photographed from above. [4]

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A very similar piece to Sonic Water, is artists Sachiko Kodama and Minako Takeno’s 2001 piece, “Protrude/Flow.” [5] Like Sonic Water, Protrude/Flow is and interactive piece through which sound is visualized, though Protrude/Flow uses magnetic fluid rather than water. Both pieces utilize feedback loops in which an individual can create their own sound input, which is then visualized in the medium of the artwork followed by a blending of this feedback with new input. Both the feedback loop and then nature of the material being used lends itself well to the creation artworks that can smoothly incorporate new input into its system.

In the discussion of art piece, Lorna, Lynn Hershman Leeson discusses the importance of interaction in pieces such as these. “The very act of viewing a captured image,” he says, “creates a distance from the original event. The captured image becomes a relic of the past. Life is a moving target and any object that is isolated becomes history.” [6] While Sonic Water includes a camera as part of the exhibit, whose still-photos are later part of the slideshow project, the most compelling part of the instillation comes not from the patterns in these still images, but from watching and interacting with the ever changing medium of water itself.

Finally, Sonic Water can be compared to less physical representation of sound visualizations that function in a similar manner. Like Sonic Water, “Piano – As Image Media” by artist Toshio Iwai deals with the digital visualization of sound. [7] Both pieces rely on input from individuals contain an almost infinite variety of patterns that can be produced by changes in sound combinations. In some ways however, Piano – As Image Media is a good contrast to Sonic Water in that Piano – As Image Media is capable of turning a patter in a corresponding sound rather than the opposite, which Sonic Water achieves.

Sonic Water is certainly most effective as an interactive installation. More so than it would have been in any other medium. This exhibit is an interesting example of how feedback can create and alter a physical medium to visualize something so invisible as sound.

[1] Sonic Water. Laboratory for Water Sound Images. http://www.sonicwater.org/sonicwater.html
[2] Sonic Water by Sven Meyer & Kim Pörksen. Creative Applications Network. 2013.
http://www.creativeapplications.net/environment/sonic-water-by-sven-meyer-kim-porksen/
[3] Sonic Water. Laboratory for Water Sound Images. http://www.sonicwater.org/sonicwater.html
[4] Sonic Water. Laboratory for Water Sound Images. http://www.sonicwater.org/sonicwater.html
[5] Protrude, Flow. 2001. Sachiko Kodama + Minako Takeno. 2003.
http://www.kodama.hc.uec.ac.jp/project/protrude.html
[6] Lynn Hershman Leeson. "The Fantasy Beyond Control." 1990. Art and Electronic Media. Edward Shanken. 2009. Documents. PDF page 30.
[7] Toshio Iwai. Piano – As Image Media. 1995.
http://www.artelectronicmedia.com/artwork/piano-as-an-image-media-0

Images from: Sonic Water. Laboratory for Water Sound Images. http://www.sonicwater.org/sonicwater.html

Video from: Sonic Water documentation. https://vimeo.com/65428138

Nocturnal Flow

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4459655172_197888131c_o.jpg"Nocturnal Flow" is an installation created by artist Erwin Redl, who has done a number of similar pieces around the world involving LED lights. [1] Nocturnal Flow is housed in the atrium of the University of Washington's Paul G. Allen Center and consists of a grid of 17,400 LED lights, which cover the 85-foot brick column at one end of the atrium. [2] Erwin Redl is quoted to have said that his piece "emphasizes the vertical dimension of the building's atrium…The installation uses this wall to create an enormous plane of light that conceptually links the different floors of the building." [3] The lights of the piece also respond directly to the outside environment by pulsating more strongly the less light it detects.

While visiting the piece, I noticed first-hand how unifying the piece was within the space it occupies. It covers the entire column, reaching floor to ceiling, and is impressive to see. Just in the time that my classmates and I were there, we noticed a perceptive change in the intensity of the pulses, related to the amount of light outside at the time. My classmates and I also discussed the possible meanings of the title in relation to better understanding the piece. We concluded that "nocturnal" is a reference to the fact that the pulses are at their most intense at night when there is a lack of natural light. The "flow" part of the title was a more interesting question. Personally, I relate the word to the flow of water, but interestingly, the flow in this piece is upwards, against gravity. We had some discussion of how it could possibly refer to the flow of information or how the pulses could be interpreted as radio (or other) waves that lessened in intensity the further from the source they went. (Which was what seemed to occur on the wall the closer the waves got to the ceiling and more natural light.) We also considered that the upward motion emphasized the height of the column better than a downward flow would have, perhaps because the upward motion suggested an upward push again gravity. We thought that the pieces would be particularly impressive at night, without the natural light from the glass ceiling, when the piece could be very clearly seen and be the only real light source that still showed the entire height of the room.

I believe a parallel can be drawn between "Virtual Mirror – Rain" by Tao Sambolec [4] and "Nocturnal Flow." Virtual Mirror – Rain takes in the precipitation data of the outside environment and uses light to respond to the data in an inside environment. [5] Similarly, Nocturnal Flow senses the amount of light in the environment and reflects that data in the LED light grid on the column. Both use light to reflect a measurable element in the environment in an artistic way. Also, both send the reflected light back toward the sky, where the data originally comes from. (Rain and light.) I think both show a very interesting way of bringing attention to the outside environment and natural phenomena in a very subtle way.

A key aspect to the success of both of these pieces is the medium of light. As Laszlo Moholy-Nagy states in The New Vision, "light – as time-spatial energy and its projection – is an outstanding aid in propelling kinetic sculpture, and in attaining virtual volume." [6] This is certainly true for Nocturnal flow for, while observing the installation, we noticed that the lights were not really distracting and were actually pretty calming to look at, despite the fact that they could be pulsing quite quickly. The upward, kinetic movement of the piece is only implied motion of course, and is successful because of the optical illusion provided through the medium of light, which creates an dynamic piece of art on what would have otherwise been a very tall but rather uninteresting, static brick wall.

This idea of implied motion and volume is one that artists have always been intrigued by. Contemporary artists like James Turrell and Erwin Redl have had great success in using light as a medium to imply not only movement but also volume in a space. Erwin Redl captures both these concepts not only in Nocturnal Flow but in all of his similar LED projects where the pulsation of light provides the "motion," which in it's movement implies a volume and space. I think Nocturnal Flow was very well done and is fittingly incorporated into the space in which it is housed. It's very neat that there is such a great example of this kind of art on the UW campus.

[1] Portfolio Erwin Redl. http://www.paramedia.net/portfolio/
[2] Computer Science & Engineering. University of Washington. "Erwin Redl." http://www.cs.washington.edu/building/art/ErwinRedl/
[3] Computer Science & Engineering. University of Washington. "Erwin Redl." http://www.cs.washington.edu/building/art/ErwinRedl/
[4] Tao Sambolec, Virtual Mirror – Rain. http://www.taogvs.org/VirtualMirrorRainMain.html and http://www.artelectronicmedia.com/artwork/virtual-mirror-rain
[5] Tao Sambolec, Virtual Mirror – Rain. http://www.taogvs.org/VirtualMirrorRainMain.html and http://www.artelectronicmedia.com/artwork/virtual-mirror-rain
[6] Laszlo Moholy-Nagy. The New Vision. c. 1928. Art and Electronic Media. Edward A. Shanken. 2009. Documents. 4.

Images from: (Left) My own photo 
(Right) http://farm5.staticflickr.com/4049/4459655172_197888131c_o.jpg

Sanctum

Electronic Peristyle

medium_Seawright%20Electronic%20PeristylThis interactive art installation or “reactive environment,” to use the artist’s term, was first shown at the William Nelson Rockhill Gallery of Art in Kansas City as part of the Magic Theater exhibition in 1968.  Developed with the assistance of Robert Moog, the pioneering inventor of electronic musical instruments, Electronic Peristyle employs digital circuits to control a sound synthesizer, fans, and lights.  Twelve electronic columns surround a transparent globe set on a cylindrical base.  Light beams emitted from the base, like spokes on a wheel, strike sensors on the columns.  By breaking the beams, the participator alters the sound, light patterns, and wind effects.  Seawright noted that, “The way the effects, or phenomena, are organized is designed to allow the viewer to see that he is influencing what is going on, although it is initially unclear just how he can anticipate what effect his actions will have.” As the viewer’s activity becomes more complex, so does the piece’s behaviour.

The Quintet of Remembrance

This article is a STUB please make edits and adjustments as suggested on Wikipedia to make it more robust.  Thanks!

 

Video art was first introduced in the early 1960s by such pioneers as Nam June Paik and Bruce Nauman and continues to be a vital form of contemporary artistic expression. Since the early 1970s, it has been Bill Viola’s primary medium and today he is considered one of America’s preeminent video artists. His dialogue with art history evolved during the 1990s in a series of videos that make reference to the narratives, human figures, and portraits in well-known works of art. The Quintet of Remembrance is one of four videos created between 2000 and 2001 that were inspired by the artist’s study of late medieval and early Renaissance Italian and Flemish paintings and their iconography. In each, a group of five people undergo a range of emotions while the camera records every nuance of their physical reaction.

Here, Viola specifically references Hieronymus Bosch’s Christ Mocked (The Crowning with Thorns) (ca. 1490–1500, National Gallery, London), Andrea Mantegna’s Adoration of the Magi (1495–1505, Getty Museum, Los Angeles), and Dieric Bouts’ Mater Dolorosa (Sorrowing Madonna) (1470–75, Art Institute of Chicago). Bosch’s painting acts as the visual template for the composition of this work and the strong emotions conveyed by the five people that vacillate between compassion, shock, grief, anger, fear, and rapture. Although they share a close physical space, each person is fully absorbed in his or her own emotional experience. Shot with high-speed 35-mm film, the actors’ performance, which lasted approximately sixty seconds, is extended in the finished video to a little over sixteen minutes, accentuating the power and depth of each emotion.

 

Source : http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/2001.395a-I

 

 

Mud Muse

This great construction of driller’s mud and sound-activated electronics to make it bubble and splash is the most totally bizarre and ‘concept-less’ piece in [Rauschenberg’s] oeuvre. [It] had to be watered and mixed daily. It must be taken care of and interacted with to function. The piece uses “ocean sounds, animal sounds, some generated on a synthesizer and some processed at variable speeds(23)” to encapsulate humanity using a collection of random sound elements, which could possibly be interpreted as an interesting extension of the imagery in a piece like Barge (1962-63). This bubbling vat of mud exudes its own sort sexuality as well, in this case in the tactile, sensual quality of the smooth, flowing mud.

Viewers reacted to this work immediately: “People reached their fingers in and felt the mud, it was very silky. Then they started putting their whole hands in and making brown mud prints on the dove grey wall. One woman was about to jump in and do body prints on the wall. An exiting night. From then on, we had to put a guard at the entrance… to keep people out of the mud.(a)” As far as that viewer was concerned, she could literally be taken in by the art work. Mud-Muse also operated on gallery sounds, like Soundings, and the theme of audience participation is again underlined in this work. The element of collaboration is also important in this work. As in the other major technology pieces, engineers were employed to execute and fabricate this work:

“He couldn’t ‘learn’ the process or make immediate hands-on experiments to see what the image would be. He had to be able to sustain decision-making over months since there was a long lead time from the moment he articulated an idea until the engineer built and tested the equipment.(b)”[1]

More recently artists and designers have done their own mud-related projects, including Anke Ekhard’s artwork, ! (2009), in which sub- bass punch seems to trigger an ‘eruption’ in the water tank standing below, which is filled with black liquid and Tom Gerhard’s Mud Tub, an experimental organic interface that allows people to control a computer while playing in the mud.and

According to Rebekah Kowal, engineers Lewis Ellmore and Frank LaHayne of Teledyne Industries in California-which manufactures aviation electronics [a major military contractor] as well as the popular oral hygiene tool, the Water Pik-helped Rauschenberg to realize the concept. Together they designed and built the aluminum tank filled with 8,000 pounds of driller’s mud made of bentonite, a volcanic ash with grains smaller than .001 millimeter. The material can absorb great quantities of water which turns it into a gel-like substance whose consistency, not unlike thick pea soup or chocolate-cake batter, has an undeniably scatalogical texture. It is hardly coincidental, perhaps, that the first visitors to see Mud Muse enthusiastically smeared and splattered mud on the tank and in the space, which then had to be closed down, cleaned, and later monitored by a guard.

Despite their original concept of an entirely self-activating work, the collaborators found that the system needed to be triggered by an outside sound-base. Rauschenberg commissioned performance-artist Petrie Mason Robie to create a soundtrack of recorded material taken from daily life as the basis for Mud Muse’s activation. Describing how it operated, Rauschenberg said:

“Mud Muse starts from sound: An impulse is turned into an electrical signal and then spreads out into three other breakdowns, depending on its dynamics. Then each of those splits off in three ways.”

Microphones located close to the tank were installed on the ceiling or on a nearby wall to protect them from mud splashes. Soundtracks of the base track, and of the eruption sounds of the work itself, played underneath the tank and were selected electronically by an apparatus controlling a pneumatic system comprised of air inlets, air pressure sources, and solenoid valves powered by electricity.

In its final incarnation, Mud Muse demanded nothing active of its audience; it ran by itself, asking viewers only to be receptive to its sensual stimulation. “It is primitive but I hope in being primitive that it can be simple and the intent be legible,” commented Rauschenberg, who also hoped that audiences would “get involved with Mud Muse on a really physical, basic, sensual level.” Perhaps he imagined that audiences would be stimulated synesthetically by the concomitant effects of sight, sound, and kinesthesia. This vision seems to have materialized in the mind of Art News critic David Antin, who suggested in 1971 that this was “the interactive work of art conceived as the perfectly responsive lover.”

Through its extraordinary uses of ordinary sound technology, Mud Muse expressed an attitude that the physical body is both endlessly provocative and endlessly mundane.[2]

Note:  This entry is comprised of extended quotations from the following sources:

[1] J.D. Welch, “Antiquity, Sexuality and Technology in the Mid-1960s Work of Robert Rauschenberg” 1999.  http://www.jdwelch.net/writing/bantam.html

citations: (a) LaHaye, Frank, interview with Billy Klüver, quoted in “Four Collaborations” in Haywire (Munich, Germany: Verlag Gerd Hatje, 1997): 89. (b). Klüver, Billy “Four Collaborations” in Haywire (Munich, Germany: Verlag Gerd Hatje: 1997):93.

[2] Rebekah J. Kowal, “Blurp, Blap, Blop: Rebekah Kowel Listens in on Robert Rauschenberg’s Mude Muse” Art Orbit #3 Sep 1998. http://artnode.se/artorbit/issue3/f_merge/f_merge.html

Listen to Rauschenberg explain Mud Muse here : http://archive.org/details/Bc0069RobertRauschenbergsMudMuse

Cybernetic Sculpture Environment

This is a STUB article please make edits and adjustments as suggested on Wikipedia to make it more robust.  Thanks!

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The MIT Museum presents Wen-Ying Tsai’s 1970 work Cybernetic Sculpture #301. Tsai was a Fellow at MIT’s Center for Advanced Visual Studies (CAVS), where the work was created, from 1969-71. This sculpture is part of a small collection of historically important kinetic works created at CAVS and in the collection of the MIT Museum.  The MIT Museum is also home to the ongoing exhibition, Arthur Ganson: Gestural Engineering, a well-loved display of his kinetic sculptures, which have been on view since 1995.

 

 

Source : http://bostoncyberarts.org/events/events2011/event_details_page.php?page_id=0&eventid=629&catid=2&startpage=4

 

Skull

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rlazzarini872.jpgSkull

Robert Lazzarini

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They look like the real thing – a violin, a hammer, a telephone, a chair, a human skull. But they’re deformed in seemingly impossible ways – twisted, elongated, transformed. They are the work of American artist Robert Lazzarini (born 1965), whose art merges extreme realism with extreme distortion.

Lazzarini recreates familiar objects to scale out of their original materials, while making them look bizarrely different. A Virginia Museum of Fine Arts exhibition of his work will be on view in Richmond from Oct. 25, 2003 to Jan. 4, 2004. This will be the first one-person museum exhibition of Lazzarini’s sculptures and will feature his major sculptures from 1997 to the present.

“In some ways, they are like visual puzzles – challenging, but at the same time extremely beautiful,” says Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Director Dr. Michael Brand. (right: “skull (ii),” 2000, by Robert Lazzarini (American, b. 1965) is made of resin, bone and pigment and measures19 by 3 by 4 inches. It was made in an edition of six plus two artist’s copies. Photo by Jeffrey Chong, © 2003 Robert Lazzarini)

 

Source : http://www.tfaoi.com/aa/4aa/4aa76.htm

 

 

 

 

 

 

{Software} Structures

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software-structures_640.jpgI want programming to be as immediate and fluid as drawing and I work with software in a way that minimizes the technical aspects. I often spend a few days creating a core piece of technical code and then months working with it intuitively, modifying it without considering the core algorithms. I use the same code base to create myriad variations as I operate on the fundamental code structure as if it were a drawing – erasing, redrawing, reshaping lines, molding the surface through instinctual actions. In the past year, I have begun removing code from the process of creation. The concept for the work develops entirely through sketches and the final piece is an annotated written description without reference to a computational implementation. The work develops in the vague domain of image and then matures in the more defined structures of natural language before any thought is given to a specific machine implementation. I’m calling this type of program a software structure. – Casey Reas

Source : Whitney Museum Artport : http://artport.whitney.org/commissions/softwarestructures/map.html

http://artport.whitney.org/commissions/softwarestructures/text.html

Permutational Unfolding

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Permutational Unfolding

Eve Andrée Laramée

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Laramée’s inspiration and point of departure for the exhibition A Permutational Unfolding was an encounter in a history museum more than two years ago with a Jacquard loom, a machine invented in 1801 by Joseph-Marie Jacquard which operated on a binary system of punched cards upon which the fabric pattern was encoded. These punch cards are identical in function to those employed until the mid-twentieth century in computational devices. Laramee will explore these and other resonances between the pre-history of digital technology — going back more than 200 years — and Modern era digital technology. To emphasize the fact that digital technology — considered by most a feature of contemporary culture — is part of a centuries-old history, Laramée’s installation may intially startle the viewer with its appearance, which will not be that of a 21st-century cybersalon, but rather the transformation of the gallery into a Baroque-era drawing room such as might have existed during Joseph-Marie Jacquard’s time.

 

Source : http://listart.mit.edu/node/288#.UTTgC3yglXc

Dawn Burn

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Lucier first emerged as a video artist in the early 1970s and is best known for her large-scale sculptural installations. With Dawn Burn she investigates light and landscape as well as the intersection of technology and nature.

Lucier’s seven channels of landscape video imagery record seven consecutive sunrises over the East River in New York. Aligning the horizon with the bottom edge of the television frame, Lucier videotaped the sun’s gradual elevation. As its luminosity grew to exceed the video camera’s tolerance level, the sun burned a spot in the camera tube. This left the camera’s tube, and the videotapes made with it, indelibly scarred. Lucier embraced this “flaw” for its lyricism and documentary quality.

The seven tapes are shown on seven monitors, each slightly larger than the one before, presented in an obelisk-like structure, emphasizing the efflorescence of light and suggesting a relationship between the video medium and environmental resources.

 

Source : San Francisco MOMA

http://www.sfmoma.org/explore/collection/artwork/9092

A Collection of Circles (or Pharology)

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A Collection of Circles (or Pharology)

 

Yolande Harris

“Over the last months, I have been collecting sounds and video images related to the circular movements of a lighthouse loom. What Virginia Woolf called the “winking eye” has provided me with a form that can be shared between both sound and image and related to human movements. Functioning as a spatial score the pulsating circularity is potentially infinite but not soporific. The invitation to create a sound installation for Earwitness has given me the opportunity to exhibit my collection of circles, as overlapping miniatures, without the layer of video images that made up the recent performance Light Phase. It seems to me a paradox that these circular sounds contain more reference to images in their own right than when displayed with the images that inspired them. I am becoming curious as to the relations between sound and image through subtraction rather than combination or translation. Images shadow the four distinct sonic elements, electronic, instrumental, environmental, and vocal. Light sensors allow for subtle transformations of the sounds and can be influenced by visitors. Together these spiraling, folding patterns envelop the visitor while suggesting movement through distance and open space. ’A Collection of Circles’ therefore has an alternative title, Pharology, the study of lighthouses.”

 

Source : http://www.ccnoa.org/Harris

Man, Machine, and Motion

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In the exhibition Man, Machine and Motion (U. Newcastle upon Tyne, Hatton Gal., and London, ICA, 1955), which Hamilton devised, he examined ways in which car design made covert statements about status, power and sexuality. These concerns paralleled the semiological analyses of contemporary writers such as Roland Barthes, Umberto Eco and Jean Baudrillard, in which everyday fashions, lifestyles and commodities came to be read as critiques of consumerism, revealing its ethics, its imagination and the way in which it transformed desires, values and expectations into particular styles.

 

Source : The MOMA Collection

http://www.moma.org/collection/artist.php?artist_id=2481

 

“The Monument to the Third International” by Vladimir Tatlin

tumblr_m2juc5Jxtv1rptk2bo1_500.jpgDuring 1919 and some of 1920, russian architecht, Vladimir Tatlin, produced many sketches of a tower that would be The Monument to the Third International.  “This utopian design, so typical for the frenzied mood of Russians in the years immediately following the Bolshevik revolution was, in theory, to have been taller than that great symbol of modernity, the Eiffel Tower. Its spiraling structure, however, was to lend the Monument a structural dynamism lacking in Eiffel’s more symmetrical (and more stable) design. In theory, the Monument was to house a telegraph office, and other office space, but Tatlin, who was no architect, did not even attempt to work out the engineering problems that would have had to be overcome. Instead, like so many other early Soviet projects of utopian intent, Tatlin’s tower (as it came to be called) never went past the planning stages. The model was exhibited–and photographed–in Petrograd in November 1920, at the same time as the mass theatrical action, The Staging of the Winter Palace, was performed.” [1]

What makes these sketches so interesting are the shapes and the demensions used.  It was originally intended to rival the Eiffel tower in height and design.  The main difference was the shapes that were going to be  used.  The Eiffel Tower has slight bends up the sides and support based on shapes like triangles, squares, and octagons.   Tatlin’s tower was going to utilize more drastic slopes and curves as well as more exaggerated or elongated shapes for support.  In the end, only models were made, but if this tower would have been constructed, it would have been way ahead of its time in design as well as structure. 

[1] Early Twentieth-Century Russian Drama: Constructivism

Alma da Agua: A Fluid Water and Space Initiative

The project by Richard Clar and Dinis Afonso Ribeiro seeks to reconnect 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), Clar and 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. The project aims to increase unification of Portuguese speaking countries and celebrate their common language. 

Alma da Agua translates to Water of the Soul, a befiting title for this endeavour. It suggests that all Portugeuse people are a part of the same soul because of their heritage. It tells us not to forget our past and to remember where we come from. 

www.artscicenter.com

Electronic Moon No. 2

Nam June Paik and Jud Yalkut began working together in the 1960’s and collaborated on several short pieces throughout their time together. Using both B&W and color 16mm film, footage was captured and electromagnetically distorted (a method that Nam June Paik used quite frequently during this time). Then a second taping was completed filming the shadows of various objects projected overtop the footage of the moon to create the end product. In Electronic Moon No. 2, electromagnetic charges create an effect that mirrors and compliments the rhythmic motion of the water. The accompanying sound is Moonlight Serenade by Glenn Miller, a classic sound in contrast to this avant-garde media of the time, createing an environment that feels familiar and comfortable in the face of this new and unusual art.

The work is serene, contemplative, and provaocative. One can see the experimentation taking place as the “video-film” unravels; this video reveals much about the progression of these artists’ successes. 

The origional work is approximately 16 minutes long and includes color, silhouettes, households items and an appearance by Charlotte Moorman (long time friend and collaborator) at the end.

http://www.blogg.org/blog-56679-billet-elecronic_moon_nam_jun_paik_jud_yalkut-1285501.html

http://metroartwork.com/nam-june-paik-biography-artwork-m-148.html

http://www.moma.org/collection/browse_results.php?criteria=O%3ADE%3AI%3A41&page_number=14&template_id=1&sort_order=1

 

Hydrospatial City

Kosice and Hydrospatial City

Gyula Kosice is an Argentinian kinetic artist whose work includes the use of light, color, space, and form and channels themes of utopianism, culture, time and space. Kosice is a member of the MADI movement, an abstract artistic movement that started in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1946. MADI is an acronym which stands for “Movimiento, Abstracción, Dimensión, Inveción (Movement, Abstraction, Dimension, Invention).”

In 1940 Kosice proposed a project called “Hydrospatial City.” This was essentially a series of models, sculptures, architectural designs, and a number of other multi-media works. All of which flesh out the concept of “a sustainable community of mobile habitats.”0 The full exhibit features 19 three-dimensional models that are suspended at varying heights and represent these habitats floating around in space.

The shape and construction of these models follows Kosice’s MADI principals, mainly, abstract shapes and unconventional design methodologies. 

The purpose was to depart from the traditional form of inhabitable architecture, and follow a path more fitting with our technological progression in modern society. Kosice states, “In accordance with its impulses and vital responses, mankind has not advanced at an even pace concerning its own habitat.” Kosice is referring to “the small constraining flat which a society imposes upon us trough its compulsory economy.” (Google translation from Spanish)1

Kosice is trying to expose his audience to the possibility of a new type of living space. A radical shift from the cultural norms of our living conditions which have given so little way to advancement in the past century or so.

He proposes these structures, suspended in our atmosphere, could extract moisture from the clouds and create oxygen for us to breathe. They would use nuclear power to keep the structures afloat indefinitely.

While turning the Hydrospatial City from concept to reality may not be feasible in our near future, the exhibition is a fantastic social, environmental, and design experiment. Kosice’s attunement to the environment and prescience of our strained relationship with technology and culture is ahead of its time.

For him, I believe the project is a metaphor for larger MADI concepts: bucking the trend; disassociating one’s self from all ties to traditional methods of approach. “This transformation… supports our belief that it is not too bold to penetrate and investigate the absolute, through the possible, on the basis of a deliberate imaginative and chain-like interaction: a trans-individual imagination, without goals set in advance.”2

“To have our roots on the Earth or, to be more accurate, on the water planet – even though its atmosphere, its food and its waters are contaminated -, to witness, helpless, the persistent geographical and geological depredation, to watch how the ecological balance is slowly destroyed, to verify the constant demographic growth – all these are so many incentives for the radical changes we are already anticipating as a biological need. What we are suggesting here is the construction of the human habitat, actually using space at a height of a thousand and five hundred meters, in cities conceived of ad-hoc with a previous feeling of co-existence and a differentiated ‘Modus Vivendi'”3

http://web.gc.cuny.edu/arthistory/part/lastavantgarde/ospina.html

1,2,3 http://www.olats.org/africa/projets/gpEau/genie/contrib/kosice/cite.shtml

A beautiful shot of the structures in "Hydrospatial City"


Glimpses of the USA

Eames, Glimpses of America

Charles and Ray Eames’ “famous film installation for the American National Exhibition in Moscow in 1959” was, according to curator David Crowley, “part of a major propaganda exercise designed to inject the elixir of consumerism into the heart of the Soviet empire. This seven-screen presentation, entitled Glimpses of the USA, commissioned by the US Department of State, was projected inside a massive golden geodesic dome through which all visitors had to pass.”

“Edited together from thousands of still and moving images (2,200 in 12 minutes, many of the Eames’ own making), the films presented America as a humane, productive and socially inclusive place, emphasising local and personal relations – and, as such, the opposite of a bombastic display of American supremacy.

The striking impact of the Moscow present­ation lay less in the content of the images than in the dizzying inventiveness of the display. The Eames’s success in the Soviet capital was followed by another in New York which used technology to shake not only the minds but also the bodies of its audience.”[1]Glimpses of the USA was one of several works reconstructed for the exhibition Cold War Modern: Design 1940-1970, curated by Crowley at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, 2008

 

 

 

 

[1] Text by David Crowley, “Design as a Weapon for the Cold War” Creative Review Blog, 2008.

 

 

scale

scale is an interspecies art project: an audience-interactive installation that involves nocturnal electric fish from the Amazon River Basin. Twelve different species of these fish comprise a ‘choir’ whose sonified electrical fields provide the source tones for an immersive audiovisual environment. The fish are housed in individual tanks configured in a custom-built arc of aluminum frames placed around a central podium. Each fish can be heard — unprocessed or with digital effects added, with immediate control over volume via a touchscreen panel — through a 12-channel surround sound system, and with LED arrays under each tank for visual feedback. All software is custom-designed.

The project leaders are comprised of a composer/sound designer (Jay Alan Yim), a visual artist (Marlena Novak), and a neural engineer (Malcolm MacIver). Novak and Yim, collaborating as localStyle, make intermedia works motivated by the theme of perception and that explore such topics as boundaries relating to physical and intangible properties, issues of trespass, and the mating behavior of hermaphroditic marine flatworms. MacIver’s research focuses on sensory processing and locomotion in electric fish and translating this research into novel bio-inspired technologies for sensing and underwater propulsion through advanced fish robots.

The world premiere of scale took place at the STRP Festival (18-28 November 2010, Eindhoven, NL), one of Europe’s most important presenters of art and technology; the project was supported in part by grants from the Center for Interdisciplinary Research in the Arts, Northwestern University’s Research Grant Council, and the Murphy Society.

scale was also presented at the TransLife Triennial at the National Art Museum of China in Beijing, 27 July-17 August 2011.

Text from documentary video entry:  http://vimeo.com/19933816  (cited 6 July, 2011)

Reactable

The Reactable was conceived as an instrument to bring back the expressive possibilities of traditional instruments to musicians who are working with new technologies. It uses concepts of modular synthesis, sampling, advanced digital effects processing, and DJ-ing and combines them with modern human computer interaction, multitouch technology and a tangible interface.

“We created Reactable Systems with the vision to redefine the way we interact with computers. 

Using the knowledge we gained through the Reactable musical instrument we are developing intuitive products focused on the promotion of creativity and the mediation of culture. In order to achieve this we are applying the latest technologies in human computer interaction, music technology, graphics and computer vision.


The Reactable was conceived and developed since 2003 by a research team at the Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona. Sergi Jordà, Martin Kaltenbrunner, Günter Geiger and Marcos Alonso presented their creation for the first time in a public concert at the International Computer Music Conference 2005 in Barcelona.”


The Reactable original team



Marcos Alonso
Sergi Jordà
Günter Geiger
Martin Kaltenbrunner


“After this successful introduction to the research community, the instrument got known to a wider audience when the team released several demonstration videos on Youtube in late 2006, which up to now have been watched by more than four million people. This includes eminent musicians such as Icelandic singer-songwriter Björk, who after seeing the demonstration videos, successfully incorporated the Reactable on her last 18-months world tour Volta, where Damian Taylor played the Reactable at the big stage during about 80 concerts. In parallel, during the last two years, the Reactable team has given more than 150 presentations and concerts in more than 30 countries.


Following an overwhelming response within the blogosphere, the Reactable was featured in various major TV and print magazines, becoming one of the most popular and worldwide acclaimed new musical instruments of the early 21st century. Declared the Hot Instrument of the Year by the Rolling Stone Magazine (2007), the Reactable has also received several prestigious international awards such as the Prix Ars Electronica Golden Nica for Digital Musics (2008), two D&AD Yellow Pencil Awards (2008), the MIDEM Hottest Music Biz Start-Up Award (2008) or the prize Ciutat de Barcelona (2007).”

www.reactable.com

 

The Brain Mirror

From the artist’s website

“BrainMirror is an interactive experience where the image of the visitors brain appears mixed with his/her mirror image, using natural head movement as an interface to explore volumetric visuals of the human brain.

Designed and built by 3 independent artists and technologists, putting our skills together we aimed for creating an interface that works without learning for all age groups, and fosters communal interaction, interaction among the different visitors. Our interaction thinking is focusing on creating a simple but powerful language for the visitors to explore the otherwise complex MRI brain data. Everybody, including Kids and elderly people can use the installation instantly without learning the interface.

BrainMirror is tracking the head movement, and displays generated brain models on a projection surface is 1 meter behind a half transparent mirror making the projection seem to float in the air 1 meter in front of the mirror. The visitors can find models of brain lobes, sub cortical systems, pathways and centra of the brain with an information overlay pointing out different anatomical parts and describing their functionality, and several volumetric renderings of MRI data. Volumetric renderings are explored by moving closer to the mirror, using the mirror as a slicing plane. All modes grow as we move closer to the mirror, a natural actions by the visitors to see more details.”

The Brain Mirror

The Brain Mirror: Cyborgs, Education and Esthetics

By combining MRI-scans, motion tracking, open source software, mirrors and interactive digital graphics, Brain Mirror creates not only an educational, but also an aesthetic experience. The seamless interactivity combines the graphical with the flesh, as if it were an actual part of the body, which it in a sense is, simply blown up slightly, but still in the same place.

The externalization of the brain and its virtual enlargement thereof, serves not only a practical purpose; it also explores notions of the cyborg or the person interacting with technology being ‘more advanced’ than a ‘regular human’, as increased brain size is commonly associated with increased mental capacity and human superiority over other living organisms. Indeed, by wearing the helmet nessecary to use the Brain Mirror, one becomes a cyborg, becoming a form “in which elements of the robotic other are integrated with the human organic norm within a single entity…” (Piper 2001, p. 250).

The installation helps educate the human utilizing the installation.  In this regard, it fulfills the role of Cyborg-related art theorized by Jack Burnham, by shifting “from the direct shaping of matter to a concern for organizing quantities of energy and information. Seen another way, it is a redocusing of esthetics awareness … on matter-energy-information exchanges and away from the invention of solid artefacts. [Such forms of art] prompt us not to look at the ‘skin’ of objects, but at those meaningful relationships within and beyond their visible boundaries.” (Burnham 1968, p. 247) This reminds us once more that the helmet, the custom-made circuitry, the MRI-scanner or the mirror itself are not the artwork, but the experience that is delivered, that which exists only by grace of the interaction with and input by a human. The work needs a human to exist, which subtly reconfirms the nessecity and importance of the human as the main subject in a increasingly robot-populated world.

The Brain Mirror

The Brain Mirror in relation to other artworks

Concerning the body as the locus and measure of all things, being at the center of attention, this work can be compared to the Einstein’s Brain Project of Alan Dunning and Paul Woodrow and ConFIGURING the CAVE by Jeffery Shaw et al, as these projects explore the coupling of visual and corporeal and interacting using bodies (or body-like objects) to navigate a virtual experience. It also is similar to Robot Cowboy, which is parallel to this work in exploring man-machine integration to help the human body and mind express, learn or understand.

 

Links and references

Burnham, Jack. Robot and Cyborg Art, 1968. In: Edward Shanken, red. Art and Electronic Media. London: Phaidon, 2009, p. 247.

Piper, Keith. Notes on the Mechanoid’s Bloodline, 2001. In: Edward Shanken, red. Art and Electronic Media. London: Phaidon, 2009, p. 250.

The Brain Mirror

Robot Cowboy

Cybernetic Bacteria 2.0

  

Cybernetic Bacteria 2.0 was part of the exhibition INFECTIOUS in Dublin’s Science Gallery. This exhibition explored “mechanisms of contagion and strategies of containment through a range of exhibits, experiments and epidemic simulation.” [1]

Cybernetic Bacteria 2.0 is also a part of Anna Dumitriu’s project Normal Flora, which is her own major ongoing art project about “our sublime microbial world.” [2] She wishes to make clear the way in which we co-exist with millions upon millions of bacteria and microbes, which we encounter in everyday life. Not all of them are harmful, and Normal Flora wishes to show that bacteria are as much a part of our eco-system and not as disgusting as is usually thought.

The artwork is based upon two forms of communication: bacterial and digital. Bacteria communicate in a very dense, complex and continuous way, using air-born forms to communicate with their environment. Similarly, digital communications follow this same pattern, being dense, complex and also continuous, ongoing without an end. Dumitriu et al. decided to combine these two forms of communication to create a ‘new’ artificial life form, a life form able to use the bacterial and digital communications to its advantage. They wish to explore “the layers of complexity in both digital and organic communications networks and [investigate] the relationship of bacteria to artificial life.” [3]

A device is placed in front of the installation, which registers any form of live data stream in its vicinity. Our mobile phone devices, Bluetooth, wireless and RFID activity are all picked up by this electronic device and translated into data. Similarly, communication activity between bacteria (most likely a fixed recording, though no clear information is given about this) is also picked up and translated into data.

Both forms of data are then inserted into a specifically written computer programme, created by Lorenzo Grespan. This computer programme uses the communication data from both forms – bacterial and digital – to generate an artificial life form, a life form with access not only to our biological origins (after all, are bacteria not an important aspect of our own lives?) but also to our entire communications network. The computer manages to create a “chimeric life form” able to “subvert both biology and technology.” [4]

Thus, the primary question of Cybernetic Bacteria 2.0 can be formulated as “[w]hat would a creature with access to humanity’s digital knowledge, the genetic toolbox that drives evolution; the sophistication of the pathogen; and awareness of all our intimate vulnerabilities do?” [5]

Cybernetic Bacteria 2.0

Cybernetic Bacteria 2.0 can be compared to Eduardo Kac’s Genesis [6], since both Kac and Dimitriu et al. use bacteria and biological processes to create a new sort of organism, triggered by audience interference. There is one major difference between Cybernetic Bacteria 2.0 and Genesis, however. The processes in Genesis enable an entirely new life form to be created, one that actually exists. Cybernetic Bacteria 2.0 only creates a computer generated life-form, a life form that is only theoretical, and not ‘real’.

(Though, were Dimitriu et al. to create a ‘real’ life form with access to both digital and biological knowledge, there would probably be all sorts of ethical issues raised not beneficial for the piece of art.)

Nam June Paik stated that “cybernetics is the exploration of the boundary regions between and across various existing sciences.” [7] Cybernetic Bacteria 2.0 is a perfect example of inhabiting these boundary regions, since it is no longer just biology or bacterial studies, nor is it communicational sciences, nor is it computer sciences. It is a combination of all of these, creating an interactive and fascinating art piece, a piece of art that is lifted far above the sum of its separate (scientific) elements.

 

Sources:

[1] Green, Jo-Anne. ‘Live Stage: Cybernetic Bacteria 2.0’. Networked Performance Blog. Retrieved from http://turbulence.org/blog/2009/04/13/live-stage-cybernetic-bacteria-20-dublin/

[2] ‘Introduction’. The Normal Flora Project. Retrieved from http://web.mac.com/annadumitriu/NF/Home.html

[3] [4] ‘Cybernetic Bacteria 2.0’. The Normal Flora Project. Retrieved from http://web.mac.com/annadumitriu/NF/Cybernetic_Bacteria_2.0.html

[5] Green, Jo-Anne. ‘Live Stage: Cybernetic Bacteria 2.0’. Networked Performance Blog. Retrieved from http://turbulence.org/blog/2009/04/13/live-stage-cybernetic-bacteria-20-dublin/

[6] As found in Shanken, Edward. Art and Electronic Media. London: Phaidon, 2009: pp158

[7] Paik, Nam June. Cybernated Art. As found in Shanken, Edward. Art and Electronic Media. London: Phaidon, 2009: pp198

Street With A View

From the project’s website

Street With A View introduces fiction, both subtle and spectacular, into the doppelganger world of Google Street View.

On May 3rd 2008, artists Robin Hewlett and Ben Kinsley invited the Google Inc. Street View team and residents of Pittsburgh’s Northside to collaborate on a series of tableaux along Sampsonia Way. Neighbors and other participants from around the city staged scenes ranging from a parade and a marathon, to a garage band practice, a seventeenth century sword fight, a heroic rescue and much more…

Street View technicians captured 360-degree photographs of the street with the scenes in action and integrated the images into the Street View mapping platform. This first-ever artistic intervention in Google Street View made its debut on the web in November of 2008.

An incredible cast of real-life characters contributed their time, energy and talents to creating pseudo-street life on Sampsonia Way. Please check out the scene breakdown,  the participant page and the video documentation to learn more about the artists, groups and participants that made Street With A View possible. 

 

Blurring reality and fiction

In a grand attempt to blur the lines between reality and fiction the two artists gathered a large group of other artists and willing contributers from the local community to ‘rig’ the Street View car sent by Google to record the streets as they are. This is the only known artistic large scale intervention in Google Street View. Assembling various disciplines of art and other community services as well as clubs, Street With A View includes many different scenes, to which a guide is linked above, including but not limited to a marching band, confetti throwers, a tableau vivant of people moving house, a fictive marathon, a medieval sword fight, an appearance by the local butcher and many more things. Extending works like the Aspen Movie Map, which was a project intended to virtually recreate reality, Street With A View projects that which is fictional, yet obviously exists in our reality (as we thought of it) into the virtual space.

It also challenges the perspectives on surveillance, by showing a heightened awareness of the fact that life is being recorded, whether this is liked or not, and making use of this fact; injecting it with artistic value.

Street With A View: Marching Band

The work also explores cinematic values, as the staged and the spontaneous leak into eachother, within the artwork manifesting as local youth and passerbys walking into the directed scenes and the ‘actors’ of the scenes interacting with them in turn. In a certain sense, this is a form of ‘expanded cinema’, which challenges what is real and what is directed, how static images are given narrative, even though the framerate is only as high as the speed with which the viewer clicks through the street in which the scenes play and to where the spectator looks while clicking on. It is, nevertheless, the user which controls the speed of the images and the window and thus the viewpoint. In this sense “the technologies of virtual environments point to cinema that is an immersive narrative space, wherein the interactive viewer assume the role of both cameraperson and editor.” (Shaw 2002, p. 263)

 

Links & References

Jeffery Shaw. Movies After Film – The Digitally Expanded Cinema, 2002. In:
Edward Shanken, red. Art and Electronic Media. London:

Phaidon, 2009, p. 263.

Street With A View Homepage

Direct Link to Google Street View

 

A Bicycle Built for 2,000

website_header.png

Bicycle Built For 2,000 is a collaborative artwork in the form of a song comprised of 2,088 voice recordings collected via Amazon’s Mechanical Turk web service. Workers were prompted to listen to a short sound clip, then record themselves imitating what they heard. The recorded sound clips were collected and organized into the original pattern.

The song “Daisy Bell,” originally written by Harry Dacre in 1892, was made famous in 1962 by John Kelly, Max Mathews, and Carol Lockbaum as the first example of musical speech synthesis. At the end of the movie ‘2001: A Space Odyssey‘ (1968), the computer/cyborg HAL is singing ‘Daisy Bell’. In contrast to the 1962 and 1968 versions, Bicycle Built For 2,000 was synthesized with a distributed system of human voices from all over the world.

Bicycle Built For 2,000 can be listened to here. By clicking ‘Computer’ you can listen to the computerized speech version wich parts where sent to the workers.

Via Amazon’s Mechanical Turk web service, people from 71 different countries (The top ten were the United States, India, Canada, United Kingdom, Macedonia, Philippines, Germany, Romania, Italy, and Pakistan.) where collectively put to work. These workers were asked to imitate what they heard, they were not given any additional information about the project. Every worker was paid $0.06 USD for his efforts. [1]

Relations to other artworks

Bicycle Built For 2,000 is most similar to an older and perhaps more interesting art project by Aaron Koblin, entitled Ten Thousand Cents (2008, see linked entry); “Ten Thousand Cents is a digital artwork that creates a representation of a $100 bill. Using a custom drawing tool, thousands of individuals working in isolation from one another painted a tiny part of the bill without knowledge of the overall task. Workers were paid one cent each via Amazon’s Mechanical Turk distributed labor tool. The total labor cost to create the bill, the artwork being created, and the reproductions available for purchase (to charity) are all $100. The work is presented as a video piece with all 10,000 parts being drawn simultaneously. The project explores the circumstances we live in, a new and uncharted combination of digital labor markets, “crowdsourcing,” “virtual economies,” and digital reproduction.” [2]

Both artworks can be compared to Andy Deck’s Glyphiti (2001, see linked entry), which also employs mass-collaboration. A vital difference however, is that the participants/creators in Glyphiti knew what they were doing. Since the ‘workers’ in Koblin’s art projects were not aware of the goal of their input, and on top of that were paid to participate, one could call the collaboration slightly involuntary. This practice can also be seen in light of the traditions of networks and culture jamming. By keeping the workers in the dark, Koblin and Massey have succeeded in realizing the exact opposite of what Roy Ascott enthusiastically theorized as ‘Network Consciousness’ (1984). [3]  Bicycle Built for 2,000 seems to be making a much more sober, if not somber, commentary on the potential of computer networks to exploit, rather than liberate, users.  The bicycle is, arguably, built for only two – the artists themselves – through the menial labor of 2,000 low-paid, anonymous creators.

More information about the project, Bicycle Built For 2,000, can be found here.

More information about the artist, Aaron Koblin, can be found here.

More information about the artist, Daniel Massey, can be found here.

References

[1] Bicycle Built For 2,000 Website, <http://www.bicyclebuiltfortwothousand.com/>

[2] Ten Thousand Cents Website, <http://www.tenthousandcents.com/top.html>

[3] Roy Ascott, “Art and Telematics: Toward a Network Consciousness,” in Edward Shanken, red. Art and Electronic Media. London: Phaidon, 2009: p. 231

Art Ticker

“This sculpture displays the names of artists and indicates how fast they are rising or falling in the media. It gathers information daily from media outlets in New York city to calculate the fastest rising fame.” [1] Seth Aylmer – one of the artist of Art Ticker – also states that “If this piece convinces collectors to buy more work from emerging artists, it will be a success” [1].

The collaboration – or ‘media literacy think tank’ as they call themselves – behind Art Ticker is Fame Theory, where they “explor[e] interesting ways to connect people” [2]. One of their projects is Fame Game. Fame Game positions itself as “part of an art project to investigate the growth of celebrity in our media. We wanted to figure out whether there was more room for interesting art in mainstream culture, and determine whether more people could use the tools of celebrity and spectacle to publicize their work. We also wanted to help sponsors and patrons see returns on their investments in creative projects.” [3]. Their theory is to enable people make culture more interesting by playing with the media the way publicists do. “Get whatever it is you do out there in the public, generate controversy, push yourself on journalists, send a signal out into the media space and see how the network reacts. And try to keep it spiritual if you can.” [3].

Two related artworks in AEM are Nancy Patterson’s Stock Market Skirt (1998) and George Legrady’s Making the
Invisible Visible
(2004). In Patterson’s piece, stock prices from online stock is analyzed which results in a dressmaker’s mannequin – called Judy – to be raised or lowed accordingly. Legrady’s artwork processes the data of checked-out items in a library. It categorizes the items and interprets at the same time the popularity and interest of the items, or to say it in relation with Art Ticker: the fastest rising items in the library.  Another related work is Lynn Hershman Leeson’s  Synthia Stock Ticker (2000-2) , which is in the permanent collection of investment firm, Charles Schwab.

In Nation, National Culture and Art in an Era of Globalization and Computer Mediated Communications (2000) Niranjan Rajah states that “Satellite television and Computer Mediated Communication are opening domestic news and leisure markets to international marketing and cultural differences and receding as a transnational ‘media machine homogenizes the values and tastes of audiences around the globe.” [4] This development of globalization as seen by Rajah is supported by the nature of new media: “regional and national characteristics seem less relevant to digital artifacts of emerging new media art. As Malaysian artists develop a new-networked multimedia art in on-line interactive transactions, they are contributing to the shape of what will, arguably, become a truly global arena for twenty-first century art.” [4] Art ticker is an example of the globalization of art due to its new-networked nature and due to the message of supporting popularity and the homogenization of taste in art. This is Art Ticker‘s mission for success as stated by Seth [1].

[1] Artist short statement: http://vimeo.com/446918

[2] Project website: http://www.famegame.com/organizations/Fame_Theory

[3] Statement of project: http://news.famegame.com/credits/

[4] Edward Shanken, red. Art and Electronic Media. London: Phaidon, 2009 P. 241-242