Pipilotti Rist Apple Tree


The video installation titled, Apple Tree, by Pipilotti Rist explores the relationship between technology and the environment as well as the psychological themes of innocence and desire. In this work Rist creates a magical world. The slowed down and dreamlike quality the Rist creates in this installation is comprised of video projections as well as a large tree and hanging transparent plastic. The plastic objects are symbols of material desires and they cast shadows onto the video projections. As viewers watch this piece they cast shadows onto the video as well. This work creates an immersive environment that allows Rist to convey the feeling of an otherworldly place and references the Garden of Eden. 

She creates environments that are aesthetically pleasing and pleasurable and allow the viewer to escape into a magical world. She is criticized for this focus on visual pleasure, but this is also seen as part of the child like wonder she creates. 






Unstoppable Hum 2


Unstoppable Hum 2 uses the barely audible sound generated by electricity emitted from products like lights, computers, refrigerators, etc. (called electro-mechanic activity), in addition to the constant humming of the human body (syncopated and erratic life sounds), and turns the vibrations into music. There are two robots on a wall that perceive this low and ever present energy. The first robot’s job is to ‘listen’ via contact microphones, which detect the electromagnetic activity in the gallery space, and depending on how the microprocessors respond, the robot translates the signals and blows air over glass bottles of water in varying notes to essentially compose music. The second robot utilizes a geophone to detect human movements and sounds, microprocessors translate the information into digital signals, and the bot generates sounsd by pushing water through a tube. The first robot is louder, and meant to demonstrate all of the non-human activity, while the second acts as though the building itself were responding to the people within it. Together, they are a comment on the relationship shifts between humans and technology, and the ever-growing prevalence of electricity in modern cultures. 


Infinity Chamber

In Landsman’s piece, a medium sized black chamber (twelve feet cubed), was constructed. Within the chamber, over six thousands tiny lights were placed all around and a complex series of mirrors was installed. The effect was a seemingly infinite space, full of darkness and small-secluded lights (much like stars in space). Upon entering this chamber one is immediately struck by the immensity of the effect, lost in space and potentially time. According to Landsman, “It’s a room you walk into, and it’s like being with God. There’s no space in there, yet there’s the sensation of infinite space,” (mam.org). The spectator experiences a fully immersive environment here and is left only with the thoughts and reactions in his/her mind. 

image courtesy of: http://collection.mam.org/details.php?id=14284


Timetable (1999) is an interactive installation and experirence created by Perry Hoberman. A round table with twelve dials around it has different themes projected onto its surface, usually a clock face, and on the dials surrounding the table. By twisting the dials each person can interact in different ways with the present image or theme, changing it in whichever abstract way the dial presents. The piece becomes a sort of immersive game, where participants have the ability to “buy time and to spend it, to save time and to waste it, to find time and to lose it…”[1]  The overly-tactile use of time only grows more complex as participants join, creating paradoxes and time loops evolving the image from just one single impression of time to many. 


My Little Piece of Privacy


Niklas Roy is an artist working out of Berlin, Germany. For his piece “My Little Piece of Privacy,” Roy took inspiration from the window in his ground-level studio. The large window offered a full view of the studio from the busy street outside.

Roy designed a curtain which was “small but smart (1).” Affixed to a clothesline-like apparatus with a motor, the curtain can move back and forth the width of the window. With the help of a surveillance camera installed outside and a software program, “My Little Piece of Privacy” detects those who walk by and moves the curtain in front of them.

Of course, the curtain tends to have the opposite effect; those who witness it become intrigued and are therefore more likely to violate his privacy by attempting to see inside. “The whole setup works really well.” Roy states, “but in the end, it doesn’t protect my privacy at all. It seems that the existence of my little curtain is leading itself ad absurdum, simply by doing its job very well. My moving curtain attracts the looks of people which usually would never care about my window. It is even the star of the street, now!” (2)

1,2 http://www.niklasroy.com/project/88/my-little-piece-of-privacy




Rob Duarte’s 2010 work UTV bears a strong resemblance to The Murmur Study in its symbolism and
purpose, but takes a different physical form—that of a stack of old analog
televisions. The piece, is an over the air broadcast of our internet ideates,
defined by Twitter feeds. Part of a bigger exhibition called “Communication
III”, it consists of two parts. One part, “Interface” takes up half the gallery
space and is made up of a laptop displaying the algorithms and scripts that
collect the tweets from people in the Chicago area. A camcorder then converts
this feed into a television signal which is broadcasted to all televisions in
the immediate area. There is a corkboard placed above the laptop that contains
notes about the process of the project as well as, “comparisons between the sociopolitical
histories of Internet and broadcast TV media, and the re-appropriation of the
obsolete medium of analog TV for the purposes of broadcasting local
community-produced content.”
The second part of the project is the actual televisions, or the “Output”. A
stack of analog television sets with rabbit antennae display the twitter feed
as white text on a black background, the phrases scrolling from right to left
across the screen at different speeds. The purpose of this piece deals with the
relationship between the demise of analog televisions and the struggles the
internet might face in the future. With the death of the analog TV came the
death of “freely available, community-driven content” 
This piece aims to bring that community content back. However given present day
issues, this piece has a darker side. The creation of SOPA, and perhaps even
more threatening, ACTA, are legislation that aims to silence some of these
voices. Perhaps Duarte was far ahead of his time when predicting the future
struggles the internet will face as corporations try to silence it, just as
corporations bought out community channels on analog television.




Metro Moss

moss graffitti

Hungarian artist Edina Tokodi has been installing her eco-art along the streets of New York for years. She studied graphic design and printmaking at the Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts, and has created numerous indoor pieces for museum display along with public art. Her overarching artistic goal is to “explore the diversity and intricate connections between nature and the inorganic world created by man.” Drawing inspiration from the Zen gardens of Japan, Tokodi’s sidewalk installations brighten up dreary urban palates with shocks of textured green mosses, inviting viewers to interact with them and in such a way get “back to nature.”

Metro Moss does not have a specific artist’s statement associated with it, but Tokodi’s work as a whole tends to revolve around similar themes. The metro map is mostly obscured by a layer of moss, perhaps suggesting that it is not the destination that truly matters, but how one appreciates the journey there. It may be an invitation to explore the beauty of the world around us, particularly places we might not have been considering visiting. The heart surrounds Brooklyn, perhaps as an indication of love of one’s home, the small comfort zone within an unknown and boundless bush.



Reverse Graffiti

reverse or clean graffitti

Moose is a Leeds born, British graffiti artist who has been creating reverse graffiti in his hometown for years, in addition to producing pieces in San Francisco, CA for a short independent documentary. All of his artwork is created using a plant based cleaner, a brush or cloth, and elbow grease. Curtis’s murals and tags can be found anywhere there is grime caked onto the walls, primarily in dank underpasses and tunnels. Rather than applying media to the walls, Curtis selectively removes the dirt and dust already there to create images. Though he claims not to describe himself as an environmentalist, much of his work revolves around the themes of pollution and urban decay. In creating his works, Curtis hopes he will show people just how dirty we have allowed our world to become, and perhaps even prompt others into action.

The shown in this short film was created for the Green Works company, which produces environmentally friendly cleaning products. The scene depicts a variety of indigenous flora that would have existed in the area hundreds of years ago. While the commercial background of the piece is the source of significant controversy, the pro-environmental message rings true.


http://www.reversegraffitiproject.com/   (site down)

PSI Girls

PSI Girls

Susan Hiller: “PSI Girls”

5 Screen Video Installation, dimensions variable 

In Susan Hiller’s “PSI Girls,” 5 screens are demonstrated in a single row. The screens depict looped scenes from multiple movies in which female characters use telekinetic abilities. The video clips were all colored red, blue, yellow, violet or green. A soundtrack of rhythmic drumming ensues at the end of each clip. The colors of the screens cycled in time with the music. The elements of color and sound on top of the content in the video clips adds a sense of performance/narrative to the presentation. Many of the installation locations provided seats for the viewers to watch for extended periods of time. 


Susan Hiller: “The meaning of art is collaboratively formed in the relationship between viwers and work.”


Susan Hiller: Each screen is suffused by a different colour, altering the nature of the images and remapping their semantic meanings: violet and the sacred, green and the supernatural, blue and regeneration, yellow and transgression, red and passion. Of the six primary colours, orange, thought by psychologists to reflect internal harmony, is ‘missing’








Calling for Shantih


Peter Campus has been a pioneer in the world of interactive video and digital recording art for the past four decades. One of his newest pieces “Calling for Shantih” works to reivenent his ever-changing medium while evoking the emotional and aesthetic tendencies of impressionism through the use of color, shape, and subject. 

The video installation consists of seven flatscreens, all containing a different landscape pieced together in layers of faint rectangular shapes with soft, muted tones[1]. The result is somewhere in between painterly and pixelated, a beautiful intersection of ambiguity and familiarity. The images slowly change over time as the landscapes leisurely transition with small changes in the environment and time of day. Ambient music also emanates from speakers on the floor. Campus’ overall method involves setting up cameras in different locations, but the intracacies of the algorithm used to achieve the enchanting effect lie only with the artist [2]. ‘Shantih,’ the sanskrit word for ‘peace’ defines the artwork and lends meaning to calming ambience present within the images. As artists continue to find new ways to reinvent the video medium, Campus settles for less in order to achieve more. The calming, quietly spiritual pieces challenge the viewer to observe them carefully and attentively in an age of increasingly fast image retention. They force the viewer to not only consider time as part of the piece, but to appreciate the simple beauty time can sometimes provide.



[1][2]: http://xxxxmagazine.tv/peter-campus-calling-for-shantih-at-cristin-tierney/


image credits: 




For Beginners (all the combinations of the thumb and fingers)

For Beginners

Bruce Nauman’s video and audio art is singular in that he does not
simply rely on the digital to create a charged environment; he believes in
including the human body in his digital works, and frequently uses his own body
as part of his designs. Nauman’s video/audio installation “For Beginners
(all the combinations of the thumb and fingers)” expresses this merger of
the organic and the digital by using recordings of the artist’s voice and
images of his hands making various gestures, the latter of which is displayed
on two stacked screens and responds accordingly to the former. The gestures
span multiple combinations of thumb and fingers as the artist’s voice narrates.[1]

Nauman says of his work, “If I was
an artist and I was in the studio, then whatever I was doing in the studio must
be art. At this point art became more of an activity and less of a product.” [2]
also believes strongly in the “idea of using the body as a tool or an object
you could manipulate,” and he uses his hands as an expression of this again in
other works, such as his sculpture, “Fifteen Pairs of Hands” [3] “For
Beginners” utilizes the simplicity of repeating gestures as a means of
learning and reflection, inspired in part by children’s piano instruction and
the repetition required to gain mastery of any skill set. [4]

Shroud/Chrysalis I


Catherine Richards is a Canadian artist, who explores the spectator and information technolgy relationship as the “jam in the electro-magnetic sandwich.”1 She deals with both old and new types of technology.  Her works question the volatile senses of viewers and their boundaries, technology being the main focus.  Some of her other works include Shroud/Chrysalis II 2005, Curiosity Cabinet at the End of the Millenium 1995, I was scared to death/I could have died from joy 2000, are works that follow this particular series that is in discussion.


Her piece, Shroud/Chrysalis I, plays around the charged environment category in a very interesting way.  This piece is both installation and performance art, with assistants that perform the wrapping and unwrapping of the cloth.  The title of the term is very significant for how to interpret the piece meaning(s).  The shroud becomes the material cloth and copper taffeta that is used for burial and chrysalis becomes the outer case left after transformation.  These terms decribes the artists intent to question how spectators or performers can be “unplugged” from the charged or hyperelectrical environment of electromagnetic waves.  The spectator can see through the cloth and viewers witness the object/performer on the table and not even be “aware that there’s a person inside the fabric.”2  She chose the table because it references electrical treatments that were performed on patients and it would make them feel ungrounded. The artist further wanted to question the concepts of ‘wireless,’ ‘wearable,’immersion,’ which she deems as common technological terms.3  This piece is critical to the notion of technolohy and how technologies power can attract, seduce, make us surrender, engage, and become anxious towards.   






The Tristan Project


In 2004, Bill Viola was asked to create a video production for Tristan
un Isolde, being put on by Peter Sellers and Esa-Pekka Salonen,
premiering in Los Angeles. His video was going to create a backdrop for
the opera, which took place all around the audience in the theater.



For those not familiar with the story of Tristan and Isolde, it
goes like this. Tristan is a Cornish knight sent to Ireland to bring
back the Princess Isolde (sometimes spelled Iseult) for his uncle King
Mark to marry. Along the way the couple injests a love potion, causing
them to fall madly in love. Though Isolde marries Mark when they return
to England, she and Tristan carry on the affair in secret, driven by the
love potion. The court often tries to accuse them of adultery, but the
couple are never caught. King Mark finally hears of the relationship and
sentences the couple to death. Tristan rescues Isolde and they run away
and hide, only to be discovered by Mark. Tristan agrees to give up
Isolde and runs away, marrying Isolde of the White Hands, because of her
name. The endings of the tale vary on who is telling it. In one
version, Tristan is attacked by Mark with a poison lance and killed.
And in yet another, Tristan is struck by a poison lance while rescuing
six maidens from a group of knights. He tells his wife’s brother to sail
back to Cornwall and retrieve Isolde, his first love, and to fly white
sails if she will return and heal him. However his jealous wife switches
the sails to black and Tristan dies of grief thinking Isolde has
betrayed him.



Bill Viola’s specialty is slowing down time, manipulating the time flow of his video pieces. He wants you to see the seconds within a second, to let the viewer dwell in the emotion of that moment. By coordinating these slow, symbolic sequences with music, we get a powerful wave of emotion and symbolism. The video displays scenes from the opera using symbology. Tristan walks through a wall of fire and the embers stick to his chest like dozens of little stars. A galaxy. Yet another scene shows the couple cleansing theselves, an act of purification before they plunge into a pool together, hands clasped. In death, Viola created a sequence called ‘ascention’, in which Tristan lies on a stone slab, seemingly underwater, and light and water rise from his body like backwards rain until he has dissolved entirely. Viola’s trademarks of fire and water are heavily used here. Viola was inspired by the essential nature of myth — “the
drama of human beings in context with and engaging the natural forces,
the cosmic forces.” (NPR).

Interesting Fact: When Viola was first given the music to the production by Sellars, the artist couldn’t get past the first scene. Overwhelmed by the music, he thought he couldn’t do it, and shelved the project for a week.


Behind the Scenes:


Sources of information:





Ted Victoria’s Homecoming (2001)

Homecoming is a particularly important piece to Victoria because it is exactly what the name suggests. The Woolworth’s in Victoria’s hometown, he says, was once a place of great importance and learning for him. “I used to hang out in front of Woolworth’s. I love that building. I ate my first slice of pizza there,” he recalls. Years later, the store is abandoned and worn, a dessicating shadow of the place he once knew. Victoria decided to pay homage to the beloved building by setting up a projection piece there, which displayes his thriving sea-monkey colonies in vivid detail on every window and door. Passersby were equal parts thrilled and disturbed by the constant, frantic motion of hundreds of three foot long sea-monkeys in every opening. The critters twirl and play, reproduce, and die, all in clear view of anyone of the street. Though this unique kind of living projection art can creates a significantly different environment from that of a painting, Victoria still considers himself a painter. Says Victoria, “It’s still very much like painting for me. It’s instinctive and creative…I’m just not using any paint.”


Aldrich Contemporary Museum 



Les Levine

Les Levine was a post war artist and one of the first to be called a new media artist.  Levine is from Dublin but spent most of his career in New York City. His first video work was shown in 1964, and he showed all over the world as well as at least 100 individual shows in the United States. His work often questions societal norms and is often times provocative and controversial. He is less concerned with the aesthetic appearance of his work and more concerned with the ability of his media work to make viewers think differently. His work contrasted his contemporaries work, such as Warhol, because he wanted to emphasize reality rather than fantasy, and he opposed commercialism and celebrity.

Levine completed many video works and was concerned with surveillance as well as the role of television in society. Another group of his works utilized plastic inflatables, one such piece is Slipcover, which was completed in 1967 and was installed at the Art Gallery of Ontario Toronto.. This work consisted of three rooms covered in shiny silver sheets of mylar, the space was constantly in flux because these giant plastic structures where consistently inflating and deflating. This inflatable work had a sonic element as well as incorporating light and moving images. Like many other contemporary artists his wish was to create an environment rather than an isolated work of art. The inflatable environment where also a prelude to Ant Farms inflatables in 1971. The message however was contradictory, as Levine wanted to emphasize reality rather than to create a utopian society. This work focused on surveillance as the viewer found real time images of themselves on a monitor within the exhibition. In this work and in many other works Les Levine wanted to create a space where the viewer had to look at themselves critically, as both the viewer and the performer.

Levine was interested in the way that video art had the ability to exist in a live space and he wanted to create work that was alive and existed in real time. In the 60’s video art was an emerging medium and was regarded as a passing trend by many art critiques. However, video was interesting to Levine because it was a medium that anyone could be involved in and it could reach large audiences. Levine believed that art should raise consciousness, and self awareness. 

Les Levine said, “I was never interested in changing the way the image looked”- on the aesthetic of video, but was rather more interested in displaying reality. He also said, “I was more interested in the way you could use a certain amount of time, the way you could express certain kinds of ideas and have them taken more seriously.” This attests to the idea that Levine used his art as a medium to deliver messages he thought were important and relevant. 







Image of Cinema art installation by Dan Graham [1]

Dan Graham



Two Sided Glass, Theater Seats, Film, Lights


Dan Graham’s work, Cinema, is an interesting and
multidimensional piece. His notoriety of creating architecturally intricate
works that often play with the concepts of perception and light incites
consideration of relationships between things such as psychology and society.
In the case of Cinema, Graham assembled a specialized movie theater on a ground
floor office corner using a system of two sided glass and mirrors. The way in
which he set these pieces of glass up allowed for a variable system of
perceptions to take place, the lighter of the two sides only seeing a
reflection from their end while the darker side instead sees a transparency.
With this setup, the relationship between the two glasses varies over the
duration of the piece. The outside public space is able to see the inside as
the movie going audience enters and exits the theater, the rest of the time
seeing a muted, horizontal mirror image of the movie in progress. The inside
sees a combination of the movie as well as a layered transparency of the
outside sidewalk activity, only obscured between showing times when the outside
can see inward. This intricate setup calls upon themes such as perception, voyeurism
and self awareness. In being able to semi-view the public engaging in various
activities and then being later subjugated to one’s own reflection(as well as
their audience on the other side) it can open one’s eyes to the amount that
they perhaps engage in watching other people or conversely how much they have
been watched by others. It also touches on the habitual nature of cinematic
experiences as well as political power[2]. Graham never placed a specific message or meaning behind his work,
leaving it only as an event serving to direct attention toward Cinema, Cinema
habits and perception.



[1]: Image source and information

[2]: Additional information

Innen Stadt Außen, Blind Pavilion

“Innen Stadt Aussen,” or Inner City Out, is Olafur Eliasson’s first individual exhibition located in, but not limited to, the Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin. The show is a comment on the relationship between art in the context of a museum and throughout the city. Mirrors are installed on the streets to reflect works on the inside, in an literal sense, and conceptually to mirror culture and the art living within it. They bring down the barriers between museum installation and living art. Architecture, space, time, and interaction are all prevalent themes in Eliasson’s work. 

The “Blind Pavillion” immerses the viewer in dense colors that fill the air as a tangible material might. Upon entering, the room is filled with a fog that lights reflect off of to create an effect of walking through a sea of color, almost dreamlike, and ‘blinding’ in nature but for the shadowy sillouhettes of those around you. The flood of vibrant colors forces the participant to let go of the need to search for recognizable sensory gauges and feel the solitary state he creates. Eliasson plays with the relationships between looking at art from a distance and being apart of the work. He says that in a room with nothing to look at, he concentrates on the ideas of “seeing yourself sensing, and sensing yourself seeing;” you have yourself to examine in the context of the environments he creates. 



Transforming Mirrors


The linked .pdf file is a printer-friendly version of the complete text of Rokeby's essay, "Transforming Mirrors: Subjectivity and Control in Interactive Media".

It is derived from the HTML version on the artist's website: http://www.davidrokeby.com/mirrorsart.html

Originally published in Simon Penny, ed.  Critical Issues in Interactive Media.  SUNY Press, 1995.

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.




raduz.jpgBilled as “the world’s first interactive movie,” Kino-Automat was shown in a specially-built theater in the Czech Pavillion at Expo ’67 in Montreal. Each of the 127 seats in the theater had a pushbutton panel with one red and one green button. Five times during the movie, the show stops and a live performer appears on stage and asks the audience to vote on which of two possible scenes should play next. Everyone’s vote is visible around the perimeter of the film screen. As if by magic, the voted scene is played.


It’s not magic but clever design: rather than creating an exponential branching structure requiring many possible scenes, Cincera wrote the script such that each scene ends back at the same next option, regardless of which was chosen.In fact, the “magic” was really a projectionist switching the lens cap between two sychronized projectors based on the voting results.


It’s important to note that there is no “new media” technology used for Kino-Automat. Yet it’s one of the first known examples of “interactive media” of any kind and is therefore relevant.

Cincera made Kino-Automat as a politically-inspired joke. The opening scene is of Mr. Novak, the main character, in front of a burn-down apartment building saying “it wasn’t my fault, really. Let me tell you my story.” Thus the initial set-up is that the story is a flashback with a pre-determined ending. After some of the choices, Mr. Novak appears onscreen again and say to the audience “That’s an excellent choice. I’m glad you made that choice, and I don’t say this often!” Cincera, a Czech during the Cold War, wanted to make a commentary on the illusion of control of voting.

Kino-Automat inspired me, largely because it demontrates that in the end, the difference between actual control and apparent control, is zero.

Text by Michael Naimark, from http://stage.itp.nyu.edu/history/timeline/kinoautomat.html 

See also Naimark’s notes about talking with the Cincera during a visit to Prague:  http://www.naimark.net/writing/trips/praguetrip.html

See also Wikipedia article on Kino-Automat

Entries in AEM Online Companion about Naimark and his work


snows.1.gif"Carolee Schneemann, one of the pioneers of performance art and experimental cinema, created an interactive electronic environment for her multimedia performance, Snows, which premiered in New York in 1967, amidst growing violence during the war in Viet Nam. Engineered by E.A.T., the seats of the Martinique Theater were wired so that the audience’s response triggered various light and sound effects."

"A complex and multi-faceted installation/stage incorporatd colored light panels, film collage, hanging sacks of colored water, 'snow'-covered branches, rope, foil and foam…. Created in protest of the US involvement in Vietnam, performers enacted a range of roles including victim, torturer, lover and innocent.  Projected on the installation and performers was Schneemann's experimental film Viet Flakes, which showed images of war atrocities, ironically juxtaposed with a sound track of classical, religious and popular Vietnamese and Western popular music."[1]

"… [Snows] was built out of my anger, outrage, fury and sorrow for the Vietnamese. The performance contained five films whose related content triggered juxtaposition of a winter environment and Vietnam atrocity images." – Carolee Schneemann

Alphonse Schilling filmed the performance, which was released as a video by Electronic Arts Intermix. Unfortunately, the silent video provides little sense of interactivity, the sonic elements of the event, or the role of Viet Flakes in it.

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cCUmrSHDJw  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AC85L0gNZFY

[1] Edward Shanken, Art and Electronic Media, 2009, p 28

[2] Ibid. p 99.

For more information, see the artist's website:  http://www.caroleeschneemann.com/snows.html

Homage to New York

Jean-Tinguely-Homage-to-New-York-1960.jpIn 1960, German-born art historian Peter Selz, then chief curator of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, invited Swiss artist Jean Tinguely to construct Homage to New York, a mechanical work of art that self-destructed in the museum’s sculpture garden on March 17, 1960.  Swedish engineer Billy Klüver, a laser researcher at Bell Labs in nearby Murray Hill, New Jersey, collaborated with Tinguely on the technical aspects of the work, and American artist Robert Rauschenberg contributed an artistic component to it – a money-throwing machine – as well.

Image source: https://uploads8.wikiart.org/images/jean-tinguely/homage-to-new-york-1960.jpg!Large.jpg

Music for Solo Performer – for enormously amplified brainwaves and percussion

EEG electrodes attached to the composer/performer Alvin Lucier’s scalp detect bursts of alpha waves generated when the performer achieves a meditative, non-visual brain state. These alpha waves are amplified and the resulting electrical signal is used to vibrate percussion instruments distributed around the performance space.1

The first work in history to use brain waves to generate sound. It was composed during the Winter of 1964-65, with the technical assistance of physicist Edmond Dewan and was first performed on May 5, 1965, at the Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University with the encouragement and participation of composer John Cage. The work has been performed many times by Lucier, in solo concerts and on tour in Europe and America with the Sonic Arts Union. 2

1. Text from Wikipedia article on Lucier (cited 6 July, 2011)

2. Text from Lovely Music entry on the LP recording (cited 6 July, 2011)


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)

Virtual Mirror – Rain

Artist Tao Sambolec’s expanded conception of art emphasizes tactility, embodied experience, affect and perception in space, often involving displacements that heighten our sensory awareness. In this respect, his work finds good company with pioneering contemporary artists from Marcel Duchamp to Olafur Eliasson.

A case in point is one of his remarkable installation Virtual Mirror – Rain, which received Honorable Mention in 2010 at Prix Ars Electronica, the most important international competition for media art.  When he told me the concept for this project – that rain falling from the skies outside the gallery would be measured in real-time and trigger an equivalent amount of rain falling up inside the gallery – I didn’t believe he would be able to do it.  I enjoyed receiving updates from him during the many months of development, and was amazed, and deeply impressed, by the work’s premier at the Museum of Modern art in Llubjiana.  Virtual Mirror – Rain makes weather into the subject of art.  It offers the viewer an embodied, situated experience that conflates interior and exterior spaces.  It transforms the liquid and tactile quality of rain into an artistic medium.  In doing so, it poetically challenges one’s preconceptions about fundamental phenomena, enabling the viewer to contemplate a parallel universe that operates under different physical laws than our own.  Virtual Mirror – Rain takes the further step of permitting the viewer to actively participate in this parallel universe:  through the work’s interactive affordances, the upward flow of rain can be modulated by the viewer/participator.  Historically, this work finds precursors in J.M.W. Turner’s painterly studies of weather, the fluidity of interior and exterior space in Le Corbusier’s architecture, the heightened perception of space provoked by Alvin Lucier and Olafur Eliasson, Robert Mallary’s cybernetic theories of “transductive art,” and the tradition of interactive and participatory art.  That is to say, the work is deeply embedded in the history of art and is engaged in several key discourses simultaneously.  It also demonstrates the progressive development of conceptual continuities in Sambolec’s oeuvre, as it is related to but significantly expands on earlier works such as Virtual Hole – Wind (below).

As Sambolec writes, “The installation Virtual Mirror – Rain is a part of a series of installations, entitled Virtual Holes and Virtual Mirrors. The series investigates the relationship between weather conditions and the built architecture in urban environment. By letting the outside weather phenomena indoors, or by mirroring them inside, Virtual Holes and Virtual Mirrors annihilate the protective function of architecture. They are undoing architecture in order to heighten our sensibility of the immediate surrounding, transforming the ephemeral and evanescent weather phenomena outside into significant and poetic events inside.”[1]

Edward Shanken

[1] Tao Sambolec, Virtual Mirror – Rain (artist’s website) http://www.taogvs.org/VirtualMirrorRainMain.html

Frontera v.2

Frontera v.2 by Lilia Perez Romero is an interactive portrait installation where visitors can play with their own reflections.  What is the reason for these electronic portrayals?  According to the artist, “In an age where a ruling paradigm regarding technological art is physical interactivity, it’s only natural that one of the oldest visual representation practices, that of portrayal, transforms accordingly. This fact has been acknowledged in literature and cinema, thus interactive portraits have become integrated into our image of the future. Frontera v.2, has been created within this scope of works and could represent a first approach towards realising what others have envisioned.” [1]

In an earlier version, Frontera v.1, the responding image would be a stranger. After interacting with the portrayed stranger, Romero thought some visitors would problably like to become themselves part of the work by being portrayed. Therefore, Frontera v.2 has two important changed components: the video booth and the playback screen. The video booth creates interactive self-portraits of the watcher and shows it back on the playback screen. These playback images react on movement as if they were dissociated morror images. This works because of with real-time video manipulation in response to the user’s actions. Technically speaking, this work is based on computer vision and motion tracking technologies. The video booth looks as a large photo booth that records video instead of taking pictures. When inside the booth, the user shows a set of movements in a game-like environment. In response, Frontera’s program will turn the resulting video sequences into an interactive portrait. After the recording session ends, the user can play with his image or allow others to do so. The videobooth is to Frontera’s interactive portrait what a camera is to photography. [2] [3]

Frontera v.2 has a resemblance to Interface from Peter Campus. Interface used closed loop video which is similar to the workings of the video booth in Frontera v. 2. Campus tried to explore questions of identity, self and perception in a intuitive, yet uneasy way. The artwork was set in a dark room with a video camera recording from one side of a transparant piece of glass while its recorded images were shown on another glass. Therefore, 2 images are reflected on the glass. Depending on where the watcher stands in the piece, the images will seperate or overlap, creating feelings of amusement and uncertainty. Frontera v.2 however uses the portrayals to physically interact with the visitor. Unlike Interface,  that has a looped video running, Frontera v.2 has an order in it’s artwork and uses a video booth in which the participant must makes some specific moves and when that ends, he moves on to the playback screen. Also, Interface is set up in a dark room, while this is not neccasary for Frontera v.2. [4]

David Rokeby talks about the mirror in his article Transforming Mirrors: Subjectivity and Control in Interactive Media. “We discover our ‘selves’ in the mirror of the universe. (…) The mirror is used as a technique of expression.” [5] Frontera v.2 however, might have taken this a bit more literal than Rokeby intended, as the artwork uses actual reflections to create movement.



[1] Website Frontera

[2] Website Frontera

[3] Turbulence.org

[4] Edward Shanken, red. Art and Electronic Media. London: Phaidon, 2009: p. 104

[5] Rokeby, “Transforming Mirrors…” in Edward Shanken, red. Art and Electronic Media. London: Phaidon, 2009: p. 223


Beacon is an interactive kinetic light installation created by Chris O’Shea, in collaboration with Cinimod Studio. O’Shea likes to creates experiences that playfully challenge our perception of spaces and objects, such as Beacon. “This installation will create a kinetic light space that has a mind of its own, interacting with the surroundings and its visitors. Emergency beacon lights have been modified to create an immersive and powerful experience. Visitors will be able to navigate through a grid layout of these beacons, creating an engaging manipulation of lighting and perceptions. (…) The installation exploits a transfer of technologies from existing industrial products. The beacon lights have had their internal parts replaced with custom hardware, enabling the rotation of the reflector and lamp brightness to be individually controlled. Thermal imaging cameras have been adapted to track the participants’ movement through the space. Beacon is orchestrated in real-time by a bespoke control system, which uses tracking information from the cameras to coordinate an interactive and highly responsive behaviour.” [1]

The usual effect it has on the participant is shock, uneasiness and/or enjoyment. Walking through the installation makes the particapant very visible, the installation literally points out that there is someone near through emergency lights and sounds. That person may or may not like the attention that is given, but it is certain that privacy at the installation is quite impossible. Also, with the bright red and yellow lights and hard sounds, it seems like a warning is coming. Perhaps, the art work shows visitors how privacy can be something to protect? Especially in a world where people’s movements are increasingly being tracked by new technologies.

Beacon is similar to Field of Interaction, an interactive light installation by Piotr Kowalski. To Kowalski, interaction is everywhere, as all processes, objects and beings affect each other and therefore create an intertwined destiny. In his environmental piece, visitors walk through a passageway and alter it patterns of illumination. There is a vague notion of a nocturnal cityscape because of the movement, facade-like structures and flickering lights. [2] The affecting of the surroundings is just like the visitors that alter the lights and sounds of Beacon. But unlike Field of Interaction, Beacon is not a silent artwork. Sound (or the absence of it) gives an interesting or unusual dimension to the pieces, which is the main difference of the art works.

Lev Manovich says that “computer interactive art takes ‘interaction’ literally, equating it with strictly physical interaction between a user and a artwork (pressing a button), at the sake of psychological interaction.” [3] For very interactive artworks, this is usually what ‘charged environments are. Beacon is a good example of this. The visitors participate with the installations in a way that goes beyond just pressing a button, because the artwork itself senses the participants. Psychological effects are created when the visitors hear and see the lights and sounds and realise they are always watched.


[1] Website Chris O’Sea

[2] Edward Shanken, red. Art and Electronic Media. London: Phaidon, 2009: p. 109

[3] Edward Shanken, red. Art and Electronic Media. London: Phaidon, 2009: p. 223, 224



Sheng High

Sheng High is the creation of kinetic sculptor, sound artist, musician and composer Trimpin (1951).

Sheng High is a sound sculpture based on the ancient Chinese instrument, the sheng. A sheng is a reed instrument infused into bamboo pipes. By forcing/pushing air through the bamboo pipes, the reed is ‘activated’ and thus creates the proper notes and cords. [1] The sheng is considered to be the ancestor of both pipe and mouth organs. [2]

Trimpin used this instrument as the cornerstone of his sound sculpture.

A motion sensor activates a wheel, which causes a ‘tonearm’ consisting of light sensor controls to swipe across the surface of a disc marked with holographic foil. The sensors ‘read’ the foil, which then initiate the machine to pull on cables attached to faux-bamboo tubes partially submerged in plastic buckets full of water. Since every tube is mounted on an air-pressure activated pipe-organ reed, the compressed and decompressed air causes the reed to vibrate and thus create a note. [3]

There are 24 faux-bamboo tubes operated by the machine, each creating a different note. The result is a “gentle cacophony of ever-shifting notes.” [4]

Trimpin is said to have created “a visual forest animated by a Zen orchestra.” [5] and an “oasis of tranquillity.” [6]

Not only can the audience be amazed by the gentle whizzing sounds of the reeds, they can also analyse the foil infused wheel and connect imagery to the created sound, engaging the audience.

Sheng High - Detail

Trimpin himself said that Sheng High “deals with space, spatial movements and sound movements. […] You basically walk through the instrument. That’s always been a part of my work. The viewer is always right inside where the sound comes from. It surrounds them.” [7]

Sheng High can be somewhat connected to Gary Hill’s Soundings, since both artworks are concerned with the “relationship between motion and sound, the visible and the audible.” [8] Gary Hill is much more experimental and destructive the Trimpin, but there is a small connection in their uses of sound and the interest both artists have in the working of sound.

It is also slightly similar to Paul Demarinis’ Edison Effect [9].  This similarly media-archaeological work uses lasers and digital signals to read the analog information encoded on disks and an Edison cylinder in order to create sound.



[1] ‘Trimpin: Sheng High’. Vancouver 2010 website. Retrieved from http://www.vancouver2010.com/more-2010-information/cultural-festivals-and-events/event-listings/trimpin–sheng-high_131960nR.html

[2] Varty, Alexander. ‘CODE Live 1 and Trimpin’s Sheng High’. Straight.com: Vancouver’s Online Source. 18 February 2010. Retrieved from https://www.straight.com/article-290383/vancouver/code-live-1

[3] K0re. ‘Trimpin’s Sheng High (dorkbotSF Tour)’. 27 March 2009. Retrieved from

[4] [5] [6] Varty, Alexander. ‘CODE Live 1 and Trimpin’s Sheng High’. Straight.com: Vancouver’s Online Source. 18 February 2010. Retrieved from https://www.straight.com/article-290383/vancouver/code-live-1

[7] ‘Art in Surround Sound’. Vancouver 2010 website. Retrieved from http://www.olympic.org/vancouver-2010-winter-olympics

[8] Hill, Gary. Sounding. (1979) As found in Shanken, Edward. Art and Electronic Media. London: Phaidon, 2009: pp 70

[9] Demarinis, Paul. Edison Effect. (1989) As found in Shanken, Edward. Art and Electronic Media. London: Phaidon, 2009: pp 73

Ocean Without a Shore

“The Self is an ocean without a shore. Gazing upon it has no beginning or end, in this world and the next.” Ibn al’Arabi (1165-1240)

This small line gave Bill Viola the perfect name for his 2007 video installation made specifically for the Church of San Gallo in Venice, in honour of the 52nd International Art Exhibition La Biennale di Venezia. [1]

The video and sound installation consists of two 65” plasma screens, one 103” vertical plasma screen and six loudspeakers. [2] Due to modern video technology, Viola was able to shoot the sequence in both colour and black and white. The installations shows several people (one per screen) standing behind a thin, almost mirror like sheen of water, shown in gritty black and white. Slowly, they move forwards, to the sheen of water, the almost invisible barrier separating the figures from the audience. Once they break through this barrier, they appear in brilliant colour, soaked to the bone, yet not at all happy at having gotten through to the audience. Slowly, they turn around and return to ‘where they came from’, passing through the water shield and retracting from view.

Bill Viola himself states his reasoning eloquently, be saying that:

“The video sequence describes the human form as it gradually coalesces from within a dark field and slowly comes into view, moving from obscurity into the light. As the figure approaches, it becomes more solid and tangible until it breaks through an invisible threshold and passes into the physical world. The crossing of the threshold is an intense moment of infinite feeling and acute physical awareness. Poised at that juncture, for a brief instant all beings can touch their true nature, equal parts material and essence. However, once incarnate, these beings must eventually turn away from mortal existence and return to the emptiness from where they came.” [3]

His work is about the presence of death within our lives, and his first showing in the Church of San Gallo, the three plasma screens poised above three altars makes this motif of death and the resurfacing of the dead more striking and poignant than ever before.

Over 24 performers were used for this piece, and Viola was aided by 20 technical personnel, making sure the recording ran along smoothly. [4]

Ocean Without a Shore

Viola was inspired to create this artwork by a 20th century poem by Senegalese poet and storyteller Birago Diop: [5]

Hearing things more than beings/ listening to the voice of fire/ the voice of water/ Hearing in wind the weeping bushes/ sighs of our forefathers.

The dead are never gone/ they are in the shadows/ The dead are not in earth:/ they’re in the rustling tree/ the groaning wood/ water that runs/ water that sleeps/ they’re in the hut, in the crowd/ the dead are not dead.

The dead are never gone/ they’re in the breast of a woman/ they’re in the crying of a child,
in the flaming torch/ The dead are not in the earth/ they’re in the dying fire/ the weeping grasses/ whimpering rocks/ they’re in the forest, they’re in the house/ the dead are not dead.

Ocean Without a Shore stands at the centre of the focus of Viola’s world, namely “the sentient self and its manifold rites of passage.” [6]

Ocean Without a Shore can be compared to Peter Campus’s Interface. [7] Campus’s work focuses on the distorted representation of the self, however, whereas Ocean Without a Shore focuses on the distorted representation of the ‘other’, the realization of identities past, dead and gone, slowly returning to the mortal realm. Interface does confront us, however, with the uncertainty of our own identity, the distorted image of the self, the impossibility to pinpoint ourselves in one specific point in time. This ‘passing’ of self can be linked to the ‘passing’ of life in Viola’s work, and both artworks can make the audience painfully realize their own finite nature. In short, we – be it our corporeal form or our identies – will all fade, die.

The fascination Viola seems to have with water is also expressed in his work He Weeps For You, [8] were the distorted representation of the self, the filtered/altered/mirrored image of one self, through the use of water, gives us a glimpse into ‘the other side’. This ‘other side’ is more fully explored in Ocean Without a Shore

Viola has also stated that “[t]oday, development of self must precede development of the technology or we will go nowhere – there will be condominiums in data space […] Application of tools are only reflections of the users – chopsticks may be a simple eating utensil or a weapon, depending on who uses them.” [9] This makes clear that, even though Viola uses state of the art video technology to make his installations, he never loses sight of his main goal: the development of self. Exploring oneself will always be more important than using the latest and greatest technologies.

Viola shows with Ocean Without a Shore that he is, once again, a person who uses “chopsticks” as a weapon, who uses video art as a means to make an audience question themselves and their identity/mortality.



Artist’s Website

Ocean Without a Shore Website



[1] Villarreal, Ignacio ‘Bill Viola Creates Work for Venice Biennale’ ArtDaily.org. (2 May 2007) Retrieved from http://artdaily.com/indexv5.asp?int_sec=2&int_new=20094

[2] Viola, Bill. ‘Ocean Without a Shore’. Retrieved from artist’s website: http://www.billviola.com/

[3] [4] Villarreal, Ignacio ‘Bill Viola Creates Work for Venice Biennale’ ArtDaily.org. (2 May 2007) Retrieved from http://artdaily.com/indexv5.asp?int_sec=2&int_new=20094

[5] ‘Ocean Without a Shore’. National Gallery of Victoria. Retrieved from http://www.ngv.vic.gov.ai/billviola/index.html

[6] Anfam, David. ‘Introduction’. Ocean Without a Shore Website. Retrieved from http://www.oceanwithoutashore.com/

[7] Campus, Peter. Interface. As found in Shanken, Edward. Art and Electronic Media. London: Phaidon, 2009: p 104

[8] Viola, Bill. He Weeps for You. As found in Shanken, Edward. Art and Electronic Media. London: Phaidon, 2009: p107

[9] Viola, Bill. ‘Will there be condominiums in data space?’ As found in Shanken, Edward. Art and Electronic Media. London: Phaidon, 2009: p 219

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.



[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

Flying False Colors

From the artist’s website:

“Like many of Zanni’s past projects, Flying False Colors relies on the fluctuations of live digital information to affect the outcome of his artwork. Flying False Colors consists of a flag set in a wind-generating base that Zanni has programmed to blow at particular speeds and in certain directions based on online data streams that correlate to the number of oil barrels requested by a particular country and the current weather in that country’s capital. The flag is a replica of the universal Ecology Flag that was designed in 1969 and depicts the Greek symbol of Theta, which derives from thanatos, meaning death. However, Zanni’s flag is fabricated with a pigment that will flake off over time as it is blown, leaving a pure white flag by the end of the exhibition.”

Flying False Colors

Flying False Colors in relation to other works

In giving this installation shape, Zanni takes a recurring theme from his own work: the dynamic between mere numbers and the effects or events in real life they represent. This dynamic is also explored in works of his like Self Portrait with Dog, made in 2008, which shows Zanni himself walking his dog, as captured on Google Street View, facing contemporary issues concerning the dynamic between privacy and recorded data for reference. Another example is and Time In, created in 2004, which featured a dynamic city that visualized information in constant flux, gathered from a hacked database. On a different level it also uses the recurring aspect of referring to another (popular) cultural item. In this installation that item is Three Days of the Condor, a 1975 espionage film by Sydney Pollack, which suggested that oil production in the Middle East was controlled or influenced by ‘black-ops’ military operations.

The work itself mirrors what it represents; the slow gliding iron tubes along the ground recalling images of long oil pipelines in the Middle East, the flagstand casting a shadow reminiscent of an oil platform or a drilling tower, echoing Marshall McLuhan’s famous statement concerning the medium being the message. This message is quite explicit in the flag which has a symbol derived from the Greek word for ‘death’. An important aspect in this, is the flaking away of symbol on the flag, which is sped up according to the demand (which increases the gusts of wind blowing towards the flag and flaking off the paint) of oil in every country seen on the screen. This raises questions about in what ways this lust for oil, this need, drives countries away from or towards death. The white flag at the end of the exhibition strongly reminds the spectator of the white flag for surrender, ‘death’ being perhaps that which is surrendered to.

Flying False Colors

Death, white flags and oil all strongly evoke feelings of military presence or themes, not unlike Increasing the Latent Period in a System of Remote Destructibility by Mark Pauline and Survival Research Labs. Both artworks work towards a certain end, a destruction or surrender (or forcing into submission in the case of Increasing the Latent Period). The difference is that the remote users steering the work towards its end are directly acting and fully aware, while in Flying False Colors the steering is done somewhat unwittingly by the whole of society in using and doing everything that requires oil. These two variations are derived from the same concept of ‘telepresence’ as described by Eduardo Kac (Kac 1993, p. 237) , more explicitly so in Increasing the Latent Period than in the more abstract version of Flying False Colors.

Links and references

Kac, Eduardo, Telepresence Art, 1993, In: Edward Shanken, red. Art
and Electronic Media.
London: Phaidon, 2009, p. 237

Flying False Colors

Three Days of the Condor on IMDB

Autotelematic Spider Bots

Autotelematic Spider Bots is an artificial life installation by Ken Rinaldo and Matt Howard. It consists of 10 spider-like sculptures that can sense and interact with the public in real-time. Because on this, they self-modify their behaviours, based on the interaction with the viewer, themselves, their environment and their food source. The spider bots are chimera’s, they see like bats with long-distance ultrasonic eyes and shorter distance infrared eyes, and twitter like birds. Their necks are very flexible and unlike their looks might suggest, they contain a certain aesthetic grace when doing their unique walking motion.

Working to combine elements of engineering, architecture, entymology and more, Rinaldo tried to create a quasi-ecosystem that would sense, react and ‘speak’. [1] [2] He does have experience in these installations as he created Autopoiesise in 2000. It consisted of 15 robotic sound sculptures. Like Autotelematic Spider Bots, the elements in Autopoiesis modified their behaviour over times as a response to public interaction, exhibiting individual and collective behavior. [3] As Rinaldo says, “I am interested in the intertwined symbiosis of all living things at all levels and scales. What is happening in our technological world is a systemic approach which doesn’t take on ecology and communication.” [4]

Eduardo Kac and Marcel.li Anunez Roca wrote in Robotic Art that robots are a new kind of art. “Robots are not only objects to be perceived by the public […] but are themselves capable of perceiving the public, responding according to the possibilities of their sensors.” [5] This description aptly fits the interactive Autotelematic Spider Bots.



[1] Website artist

[2] More information on art work

[3] Edward Shanken, red. Art and Electronic Media. London: Phaidon, 2009: p. 160

[4] More information on art work

[5] Edward Shanken, red. Art and Electronic Media. London: Phaidon, 2009: p. 249

Pulse Park


On a Friday evening in Madison Square Park, you can register yourself at a kiosk. But, instead of giving your name, in the case of ‘Pulse Park’ you register your heartbeat. ‘Pulse Park’ is an installation of artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer and is inspired by the 1960’s Macario. In this film, the protagonist hallucinates that every person on Earth is represented by a flickering candle. This idea inspired Lozano and in ‘Pulse Park’ ‘you see the remains of people who have left their hearts behind’ (1).

The use of light in or even as an artwork is not something new. In traditional visual art, light was often used as a source for illumination. Electronic media facilitate the liberation of art from conventional stasis and provide a means for it to consist of light itself (2). As Otto Piene says on his artwork ‘Light Ballet’: ‘my endeavour is a twofold: to demonstrate that light is a source of life which has to be continuously striving for larger space. We want to reach the sky. We want to exhibit in the sky, not in order to establish there is a new art world, but rather to enter new space peacefully – that is, freely, playfully and actively, not as slaves of war technology’ (3).

    ‘‘Pulse Park’ is comprised of a matrix of light beams that graze the central oval field of Madison Square Park. Their intensity is entirely modulated by a sensor that measures the heart rate of participants and the resulting effect is the visualization of vital signs, arguably our most symbolic biometric, in an urban scale. Visitors to Madison Square Park have their systolic and diastolic activity measured by a sensor sculpture installed at the North end of the Oval Lawn. These biometric rhythms are translated and projected as pulses of narrow-beam light that will move sequentially down rows of spotlights placed along the perimeter of the lawn as each consecutive participant makes contact with the sensor’ (4)


Two years earlier, the artist made a similar artwork named ‘Pulse Room’. This room is an interactive installation consisting of one to three hundred clear incandescent light bulbs, which are 300 W each and hung from a cable at a height of three meters. The light bulbs are distributed over the exhibition room, filling it completely. An interface placed on a side of the room has a sensor that detects the heart rate of participants. When someone holds the interface, a computer detects his or her pulse and immediately sets off the closest bulb to flash at the exact rhythm of his or her heart. The moment the interface is released all the lights turn off briefly and the flashing sequence advances by one position down the queue, to the next bulb in the grid. Each time someone touches the interface a heart pattern is recorded and this is sent to the first bulb in the grid, pushing ahead all the existing recordings. 


  1. www.lozano-hemmer.com
  2. Edward Shanken, Art and Electronic Media, p. 16.
  3. Otto Piene, Art and Electronic Media, p. 198
  4. Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, 2008


LSP: Laser / Sound Performance

LSP, Source Artist Website

In LSP: Laser / Sound Performance, artist Edwin van der Heide submerges his audience in the light of lasers, fog from smoke machines and abstract sound. Since 2004, he has travelled all over the world to give his laser show in all kinds of places, and it never was the same experience twice.



Van der Heide uses sine waves to produce both sound and visual patterns. As seen in the video, his waves can get quite complicated. The input device for the sound source and the light source is the same: they both react on Lissajous figures / Bowditch curves / sine waves. It is hard to find a frequence that brings forth both an audible, rhythmic sound as well as a nice and steady visual pattern. In most of his shows, the artist builds up slowly and later gets rather wild and chaotic.

“By combining audio with visuals the spatial perception of sound is often being reduced because of the two-dimensional nature of the image versus the three-dimensional nature of sound. With laser(s), it is possible to create three-dimensional changing environments that surround the audience. Here, the image is generated by projecting a laser on a thin layer of smoke or fog. Image and sound originate from the same real-time generated source in the computer. This results in a performance where image and sound play equally important roles. The environment challenges the audience to change their perspective continuously.” [1]LSP - Source: Artist WebsiteLSP - Source: Artist  Website

LSP - Source:  Artist WebsiteLSP - Source: Marmuz, le webzine de chuchumuchu

This artwork can be seen as related to Otto Piene’s Light Ballet (1961). Piene wanted to emphasize the importance of light in our lives. Also, he showed that our artificial light has advantages over the sun, which burns and singes. Electrical light, a.k.a. synonyms for the sun, can have the ability to calm and heal. [2]

Moreover, now that people have learned how to bring forth their own light, there is a striving to exhibit it in larger spaces. We want to reach out into the sky. This is “not in order to establish there is a new art world, but rather to enter new space peacefully – that is, freely, playfully and actively, not as slaves of war technology” [2]

Now, although van der Heide is also very much interested in sound (he is principally a sound artist), in this piece he stresses the surrounding effect lasers have to an environment. He wants to challenge his audience to constantly change their perspective, making them very much aware of the light. Lets say this is his way of bringing light as entity back into the consciousness of people, unescapably visualizing it as a three-dimensional environment.



[1] Artist Website

[2] Piene, in Shanken, Edward. Art and Electronic Media (Phaidon 2009): p. 197 -198.


Animate Field

Justin Lui trained as an architect before earning an MFA degree from the UCLA Design Media Arts in Los Angeles. He is also part of Defectikons, a team of media artists with whom he has co-created media installations and music projects. Lui is developing programmed and intreactive spaces that act at the scale of the participant’s body, such as Animate Field. His work is especially concerned with the sense of touch and the issue of art’s direct contact with the body.

Lui’s Animate Field is an installation constructed from a cloud of low-hanging fiber-optic filaments which create a volumetric mass through which participants are encouraged to move. It is a type of mediated architectural “skin” which takes on volumetric dimensions and interacts with the human body. Once a participant enters the installation, it sends waves of movement through the cloud. The red endpoints of the fibre-optic filaments are lit by the person’s movements. The participant’s movement is then mapped in the filament cloud, as the endpoints fade to a trail of yellow light, leaving a ghostly memory of their presence and their journey through the installation.
The fibres would tend to collect into large clusters after a few days of people passing through the cloud. Initially, the artist insisted on separating them, but soon realised that the installation wasn’t a defined discrete form (as designers are accustomed to creating), but instead was a set of conditions for a formal structure to emerge over time. It was a ‘socially generative’ formal mechanism as opposed to an explicitly designed form.

Lui’s work echoes what the GRAV Manifesto of 1967 so strongly proclaimed, “This Group is not concerned to create a work having light as its subject, nor to produce a super stage-performance, but (…) by a direct appeal to active participation, by playing a game, or by creating an unexpected situation, to exert a direct influence on the public’s behaviour and to replace the work of art or the theatrical performance with a situation in evolution inviting the spectator’s participation.” [1] The body’s movements and senses are at the core of Animate Field, it makes one aware of the countless motions we make throughout our life trajectories.

Justin Lui - Animate Field 

With regards to Animate Field, Lui remarks that his audiences had various reactions to his installation. Older people were apprehensive of interacting with the cloud of filaments, whereas younger people (< 30 years old) were much more courageous in their explorations. The artists explains this through the participant’s sense curiosity vs. personal inhibition. What happened often was that one brave soul would enter the fibre cloud, play with the fibres, then others would follow suit. Sometimes it became a shared experience between strangers. Interestingly, Lui did not anticipate this sort of sociability in Animate Field, but found it gratifying nevertheless.

As Animate Field requires active participation, it also informs participants of what is happening as they pass through the filament cloud. As their movement is mapped through the installation, they comprehend the experience as a construction which, in turn, allows them to question the impact that the artwork has on them. This recalls Olafur Eliasson’s (an admitted source of inspiration for Lui) The Weather Project from 2003-4.



[1] Groupe de Recherche d’Art Visuel (GRAV), GRAV Manifesto, 1967, In: Edward Shanken, red. Art and Electronic Media. London:
Phaidon, 2009, p. 199

Justin Lui’s website

WMMNA Interview with Justin Lui


Weave Mirror

smoothwave detailsmoothwave

Weave Mirror assembles 768 motorized and laminated C-shaped prints along the surface of a picture plane that texturally mimics a homespun basket. A seemingly organic smoky portrait comes in focus to the sound made by the sculpture’s moving parts. Informed by traditions of both textile design and new media, the Weave Mirror paints a picture of viewers using a gradual rotation in greyscale value on each C-ring. A playful juxtaposition between the rustic and photographic, this sculpture is suspended from the ceiling. Its functional circuitry and wiring is visible behind the picture plane, exposing its craft.

Studies in Perception

The work resambles a piece of Kenneth Knowlon and Leon Harmon named Studies in Perception 1. In 1966, Knowlton and Leon Harmon were experimenting with photomosaic, creating large prints from collections small symbols or images. In Studies in Perception they created an image of a reclining nude (the dancer Deborah Hay), by scanning a photograph with a camera and converting the analog voltages to binary numbers which were assigned typographic symbols based on halftone densities. The resulting printouts are pixelated or granular versions of the original. Studies in Perception concists of different images. The set includes eerie facsimiled images of a nude woman, a rotary telephone, a gargoyle ocerlooking a city and a gradient-shaded square. These experiments demonstrate the power of suggestion and illustrate the human inclination to find familiar patterns. As with the perception of an impressionist or pointillist painting, the mind instantly converts the unintelligible collection of characters into recognizable image, reversing the original transformation into characters. These images could also be seen as precursors to virtual reality and the computer’s ability to fool the human eye – and eventually, other senses as well.

Sutdies in perception 1

Introduction to ‘Electroworks’

According to the Introduction to ‘Electroworks’ (1979) Rozin can be seen as a copier. This term is introduced by Marilyn McCray in her article. In this article she writes about the rise of the copy machine as a tool to produce art in many different ways. As she argues, “artists have combined copier aesthetics with perspectives from almost every current field of artistic endaevour, including painting, design, sculpture, ceramics, printmaking, photography, video, film, animation, concpetual art, performance, poetry, artists’ books, correspondence art, and industrial graphic arts.’

Not like the usual copier described by Mc Cray, Rozin goes a step further with Weave Mirror. Instead of only making a copy he makes the copy machine and the copy with his Weave Mirror. The work makes functions as a copy machine since it copies the image that is presented. When the work copies the subject that is in front of it, it simultaneously becomes a copy of the subject. “The idea that a copying process is at odds with the standards of creativity” is expressed by this unique feature of the work.

About the Artist

Daniel Rozin is an
artist, educator and developer, working in the area of interactive
digital art. Born in Jerusalem and trained as an industrial designer
Rozin lives and works in New York. As an interactive artist Rozin
creates installations and sculptures that have the unique ability to
change and respond to the presence and point of view of the viewer. As
an educator, Rozin is the Resident Artist and Associate Art Professor at
ITP, Tisch School Of The Arts, NYU where he teaches such classes as:
“The World- Pixel by Pixel”, “Project Development Studio” and “Toy
Design Workshop”. As developer, Rozin owns Smoothware Design, a software
company that creates tools for the interactive art and multimedia
authoring community. In the work of Rozing the viewer becomes in many
cases the contents of the piece and in others the viewer is invited to
take an active role in the creation of the piece. Even though computers
are often used in Rozin’s work, they are seldom visible. The work of
Rozin has been exhibited widely and featured in publications such as The
New York Times, Wired, ID, Spectrum  and USA Today.

Lowest Resolution

Zhang Peili’s Lowest Resolution consists of a long, narrow, dark alley with a small LCD screen hanging at the end. The LCD screen plays a video, hardly recognizable from distance, of a girl in a red school uniform. The distance makes it difficult to see exactly what the girl is doing or to hear if she’s talking or singing, or maybe crying. The visitor is drawn to the screen to find out what is being displayed but punished for his curiosity. The closer the viewer gets to the screen, the more the quality of image and sound deteriorates before eventually turning into a fuzzy snow and murmuring noise.

far awayclose up

The closer the visitor gets to the screen, the fuzzier the image becomes, until its resolution is reduced to a single pixel. As the viewer moves away from the screen again, the image reappears, from a threshold distance of about six meters, completely in focus again. The distance between the visitor and the screen, however, becomes so great that the image can no longer be recognized. The participant is thus involved in the issue of choosing the correct distance and attitude with respect to the reception of content produced by media, or by digital means. The most immediate position, directly in front of the screen, appears, in this light, to be the least favorable one.

From a certain distance the viewer can distinguish two people having sex with each other. The video depicted on the LCD screen is actually a Chinese sex education video. Lowest Resolution points to a Installation outside of
 exhibitionpuritanical streak in Chinese political culture. Peili uses this artwork to point out the ambiguous view on sex in China, where sex is taboo. The notion that sex is somehow ‘forbidden’ to speak of has inspired a strong tendency of voyeurism. It is exactly this voyeurism that Lowest Resolution tempers with. The urge to see the sexual content that is being depicted on the LCD screen is being punished by making the content even less visible to the spectator.

Paul Gladston in an interview with Zhang Peili: “In the case of Lowest Resolution, you show a Chinese sex education video using digital technology that makes the image increasingly illegible — more heavily pixilated–the closer one gets to it. Arguably, this could be interpreted as a feminist critique of the patriarchal gaze as well as a performative demonstration of what poststructuralists would argue is an inescapable slippage between desire and knowledge; that is to say, the notion that the closer one gets to a desired presence or meaning the more indeterminate it becomes. All of which places your work more or less squarely in relation to the legacy of the Western avant-gardes and post avant-gardes.” [1]

Lowest Resolution also deals with objective and subjective perception in relationship to its (re-)production by the media. This allows a shift of focus from the perspective of voyeurism to that of the medium. By combining both perspectives, Lowest Resolution seems to embody what David Rokeby meant when he was comparing the medium to a mirror. Alltough, in this case, the technology does not reflect recognizably. [2] It does so on purpose, to distort the sense of self and point out the experience of curiosity and voyeurism.

Relations to other artworks

Lowest Resolution bears similarity to a broad spectrum of artworks. The deterioration of images is also used in artworks like ‘Die Photokopie der Photokopie der Photokopie’ by Timm Ulrich (1967), ‘Beatles Electroniques’ by Jud Yalkut & Nam June Paik (1966) and ‘Dawn Burn’ by Mary Lucier (1973). Just like Lowest Resolution, ‘Video Flag Y’ by Nam June Paik (1985) used video screens as a portret to make a political statement. Bruce Nauman’s ‘Live-Taped Video Corridor’ (1970) also revolves around perception of video images correlated with the viewer’s distance to the artwork.

When we look at the way the viewer percieves the artwork in combination with the notion of voyeurism, Lowest Resolution can be compared to the images of the nude woman in Kenneth Knowlton and Leon Harmon’s Studies in Perception 1 (1966). Both artworks seem to play with the notion that, how fuzzy or unclear the image might be, depicting sex or nudity appears to make the viewer fill in the blanks and grab their attention.

In 2007, Lowest Resolution was exhibited in the Dutch Electronic Art Festival.

Zhang Peili is a Chinese video artist who’s artworks are often critical demonstrations of how propaganda and censorship are enforced in China. More information about the artist can be found here.



[1] Recurring Intimations of Disorder: A Conversation with Zhang Peili (by Paul Gladston) (2008) Link. 

[2] Rokeby, excerpted in Edward Shanken, red. Art and Electronic Media. London: Phaidon, 2009: p. 223.

Moveable Type

The Listening Post (Image from Creative Systhesis Blog)Moveable Type (Image from g-ap.org)

            Listening Post (Whitney Museum)                                       Moveable Type (New York Times Building)

Listening Post, created by Ben Rubin and Mark Hansen has become legend. Its 231 suspended fluorescent displays hung at the Whitney Museum of American Art for four years.  It is now part of the permanent collection of the Science Museum, London and the San Jose Museum of Art in California, and is in constant demand for exhibitions around the world. It is comprised of small monitors that display random quotes found on listserves on the Internet. These are determined by various algorithms: one selects first-person statements, another selects the most infrequently used words. An artificial voice randomly reads aloud some of the quotes, accompanied by music.

For Moveable Type, Rubin and Hansen used traffic inside the building of the New York Times (which commissioned the work) as the artwork’s source of data. “The installation draws its content from three sources: a live feed from The New York Times, capturing text and data in near real-time as the information is published; the activities and comments of visitors to The Times’  Website; and the complete Times archive dating back to 1851” [1]

Moveable Type uses some of the same techniques as Listening Post. The algorithms are designed to select quotes based on certain rules. As seen in the video, one feature is to let all the 560 fluorescent screens display letters to the editor (accompanied by typewriter sounds). Another is the appearance of quotes from that day’s paper which begin with the words ‘I’ and ‘You’,  placing them next to each other by contrast (or not).

For Listening Post the idea was to visualize the collective consciousness, a form of eavesdropping, making the Internet be seen and heard and letting the viewer be surged into this force field. For Moveable Type the idea is to view the news as seen by the New York Times in an exploding charged environment. To take bits of news and display them all together, ripped out of their original context and giving them a new context. Also, the process and the energy that is previous to the publishing of a newspaper is now on display. With this last feature, Ben Rubin and Mark Hansen want to give credit to this hard work.

Is this augmented reality? Is it media archeology? Is it remediation?

Peter Weibel states that “the image has mutated into a context-controlled event-world, in which the context may constitute a different visual system, sound sequence, machine, human observer, distace or pressure….  the system itself is just as variable [as the image] it will behave like a living organism.” [2] As Bill Viola put it, “chopsticks may be a simple eating utensil or a weapon, depending on who uses them” [3].

Similarly, Rubin and Hansen try to give their content a new context (different visual system and sound sequence), thereby transforming it into a big living organism. It behaves very randomly and every day it has its busy moments and its quiet moments. Its behavior is related to the behavior of the people and the flow of information in the physical and information spaces of the leading newspaper in the US.  Moveable Type may not be as readable as The New York Times but it provides unique insight into the site of the newspaper’s production in an aesthetically stimulating way.



[1] http://www.digitalsignageuniverse.com/technology5.html

[2] Weibel, “The World as Interface – Toward the Construction of Context-Controlled
Event-Worlds “(1996) in Shanken, Edward. Art and Electronic Media (Phaidon 2009): p. 224 – 227.

[3] Viola, in Shanken, Edward. Art and Electronic Media (Phaidon 2009): p. 219

Listening Post

Ben Rubin

Mark Hansen





Gravity is normally only visible in the ebb and flow of tides. Seawater is continuously exposed to the gravitational force of the moon and the sun, and to centrifugal force owing to the earth’s rotation. Luke Jerram’s Tide is a sound sculpture that makes these fluctuations in gravity audible. The installation consists of three water-filled glass globes on stands. Tiny changes in gravity measured on the spot cause the water in the globes to rise or fall. When the glass globes are rubbed, they produce a sound akin to that of singing wine glasses: we hear gravity, the variable tide and the interplay between planetary systems.

A gravity meter located in the gallery space, pointed at the center of the earth, measures the changing gravitational pull of the moon and sun on the earth. This information is represented as a video projection showing a full 24 hours of altering gravity. Through the use of water pumps, the received data is also made to control water levels within each sculptural object. A friction device makes the glass of each sculpture resonate and sing (like rubbing a finger around the rim of a wine glass). The rise and fall of water levels over time from high to low tide changes the note produced by each singing sculpture.

Referencing the planets in movement and form, the resonating spheres of glass create a chorus of sounds which fill the gallery space. Being ‘directed’ live, these machines are altering their state with the changing position of the moon in relation to the gallery.

“During the day, changing gravity causes the sound sculptures to continually change in pitch. But once a day, at precisely the moment of transition from high to low tide (and vice versa), the globes come into harmony. At the magic moment, when the globes are closest to and furthest from the moon, Tide feeds back in an even rhythm. The planetary system of gravitational fields briefly finds a delicate equilibrium and creates a combined spherical sound play.” [1] 

This moment of balance, or ‘equipoise’, is described by Moholy-Nagy in ‘The New Vision’ (1928). Moholy-Nagy states that, for a sculpture not to be based on illusion, it has to be able to be brought to balanced rest by opposing forces [ebb and tide]. “An actual realization of equipoised sculpture can be made through the application of magnetic forces”. [2] At the time Moholy-Nagy wrote The New Vison he could not have imagined that instead of magnetic or electrical forces, gravitational pull could be used to achieve equipoise.

The final work is based on Kepler’s theories of the Music of the Spheres and references early scientific apparatus, as studied in the London Science Museum. The work now functions as both an astronomical clock and a media art exhibit. 


“Two years of extensive research was carried out in the development of the work. Advice and support came from over 100 individuals and organizations from around the world including the University of Hawaii Astronomy Department, Medieval musicologists, Clear Night Sky campaigners and a 17th Century glass harmonica maker. NASA provided information on their three-dimensional gravity meter used in submarines for stealth navigation.”

Relationships with other artworks

The artwork Tide can be can be categorized in artworks that make the viewer aware of environmental changes that can not be observed without special aides. Other notable artworks in this category are Takis’ ‘Signal Lumineux’ (1958), ‘Sun Run Sun’ by Yolande Harris (2008) and Stephen Hurrel’s ‘Beneath And Beyond’ [3]. Just like Tide, Signal Lumineux and Beneath and Beyond transform the slightest changes in the environment to sound and/or motion. Yolande Harris’ Sun Run Sun transforms the movement of nearby satellites into sound with her portable installation. [4]

More information about Tide

More information about the artist, Luke Jerram



[1] Tide’s Official Website, <http://www.lukejerram.com/projects/tide>

[2] Edward Shanken, red. Art and Electronic Media. London: Phaidon, 2009: p. 193

[3] AEM Journal Entry for Stephen Hurrel’s ‘Beneath And Beyond’: <http://www.artelectronicmedia.com/?q=node/521>

[4] AEM Journal Entry for Yolande Harris’ ‘Sun Run Sun’, <http://www.artelectronicmedia.com/?q=node/112>


Hand From Above

‘Hand From Above’ is a public art piece on the ‘BBC Big Screen’ in Liverpool. “It encourages us to question our normal routine when we often find ourselves rushing from one destination to another.” [1] When pedestrians walk by, they see themselves on the big screen and will be tickled, stretched, flicked or removed by a big hand.

 The screen is connected to a CCTV camera, linked to a computer that runs software that can pick walkers-by based on their proportions and how apart they are from other people. When there is too big a crowd it resorts to tickling people, with a random selection.

 In a certain way this is an augmented reality, especially made to shake people out of their normal routine. As we can see in the video, people clearly react to it; they mostly have fun with it. But it also makes you think; a higher power (in this case a hand from above) can easily wipe you away. Our lives are all very precious to us, yet they’re also very fragile. Maybe we should stop once in a while and think about our lives and the world that surrounds us. This is in line with David Rokeby’s ideas about interactive technologies. He defines an interactive technology as a mirror which provides us with a self-image and which also provides us “with a sense of the relation between this self and the experienced world. This is analogous to our relationship with the universe” [2].   

   Hand From Above     Hand From Above

‘Hand From Above’ investigates how the use of outdoor screens can be used to enhance the feeling of community in a city. There’s even an entire project with conferences about this phenomena, called Urban Screens. Urban Screens defines its goals as follows: “We want to network and sensitise all engaged parties for the possibilities of using the digital infrastructure for contributing to a lively urban society, binding the screens more to the communal context of the space and therefore creating local identity and engagement”. [3]

 ‘Hand From Above’ is an engaging urban screen that playfully transforms its passers-by. It will get people’s attention and temporarily wake them up from their daily routine. 




[1] Chris O’Shea: http://www.chrisoshea.org/projects/hand-from-above/

[2] Rokeby, David. ‘Transforming Mirrors: Subjectivity and Control in Interactive Media’ (1995). In: Edward Shanken, red. Art and Electronic Media. London: Phaidon, 2009: p. 223.

[3] Urban Screens: http://www.urbanscreens.org/