Diamond in you

Tatsuo Miyajima

The work of Tatsuo Miyajima can often fit into one of three themes: ‘keep changing,’ ‘connect with all,’ and ‘goes on forever.’ LED counters also hold a commonplace in Miyajima’s work, usually serving as an effective representation of time, repetition, and measurability in general. In the piece Diamond in you series, Miyajima constructs an abstract shape consisting of repeating crystalline structures with mirrored surfaces. Each surface also contains a slow-ticking LED counter, counting from 1-9 and skipping 0. The title directly relates to the highest level of Buddhist enlightenment, ‘kongochi,’ in which ‘kongo’ means diamond. Diamond in you can be rearranged into different configurations, one of which is a perfect half-sphere representing the inner-universe of the self. The implications of this form give the sculpture a transformational quality, and the ticking numbers and reflections of these numbers also contribute to the ever-changing nature of the piece, and Miyajima’s conception of art and time in general.

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. 



Tongues of Fire



Like much of Paul DeMarinis’ work, Tongues of Fire recontextualizes functional, yet antiquated, technology in a modern setting.  The piece utilizes a precursor to the oscilloscope, the manometric flame apparatus, which was invented by Rudolph Koenig in 1862. The manometric flame apparatus measured sound waves by adjusting the flow of a flammable gas into chamber through a vibrating diaphragm.

In Tongues of Fire, DeMarinis sought to draw attention to the physical embodiment of speech as sound, demonstrating the relationship between spoken word, wave, and signal. DeMarinis played the words of George W. Bush on the eve of the U.S. invasion of Iraq into the apparatus while recording it with a modified antique bellows camera. The modified camera captured the flame using a technique called “slit-scan photography”, which allowed the changes in the flame over time to be recorded continuously onto a roll of film. Every 15 seconds of the political speech resulted in 31 inches of film.

The piece highlights the incendiary and destructive potential of speech by connecting cultural connotations of flame with the image of the waveform, which has become commonplace in modern, digital society.




“Din Blinde Passenger” (Your Blind Passenger)

“For me Utopia is tied to our ‘now’, to the moment between one second and the next. It constitutes a potential that is actualized and transformed into reality; an opening where concepts such as subject and object, inside and outside, proximity and distance are thrown up in the air only to be defined anew. Our sense of orientation is challenged, and the coordinates of our spaces,collective and personal, have to be renegotiated. Mutability and motion lie at the core of Utopia.” – Olafur Eliasson (1)

As visitors step into long tunnel filled with dense fog and slowly shifting colored lights, they must give up their sense of sight in order to pass from one end to the next in this 2010 installation by Olafur Eliasson at the ARKEN museum in Copenhagen. The dense fog instead encourages visitors to rely on their other senses to navigate the space, drawing to their attention changes in light and sound as other visitors move around you. The colored lights change subtly, from the bright yellows of morning to the deep inky purples and blues of twilight, allowing participants to notice the changes in light of everyday that they might otherwise miss with the distractions of the outside world present. Concentrating on our personal relation to the world around us, Eliasson seeks to reveal the idea of ‘Utopia’ to us as “the now”, or as “moments between one second and the next”. A sensory experience. His 90 meter installation challenges visitors to consider their place in their environment and how they relate to not only the world around them, but also others who share the same space. By blocking outside distractions with the fog, we can better understand our own Utopia, redefining our identity in relation to our surroundings.Eliasson’s use of the visitor as a participant in the work is more than just a cheap thrill, instead the slow pace of the trek through the tunnel encourages quiet reflection and promotes both inner and outer awareness of the world and our place in it. (2)


1. DB, Andrea. “olafur eliasson: your blind passenger.” Designboom
(blog), December 24, 2010.
(accessed February 1, 2012).

2. Aldredge, Michelle. “Olafur Eliasson: Your Blind Passanger.” Gwarlingo (blog), July 25, 2011. http://www.gwarlingo.com/2011/olafur-eliasson-your-blind-passenger/ (accessed February 1, 2012).

3. Eliasson,
Olafur. “Olafur Eliasson.” Last modified 2010. Accessed February 1,
2012. http://www.olafureliasson.net/works/din_blinde_passager.html.

Round Rainbow

Eliasson’s pieces try to make the viewer participate and be aware of their physical environments.  He also explores the often unnoticed relationship between the viewer and the object and how they can be interchanged.  Moma curators describe his works as “ongoing exploration of subjectivity, reflection, and the fluid boundary between nature and culture.”1

Round Rainbow from 2005, exemplifies Eliasson’s portfolio very well.  His focus for this piece centers around the element of rainbow formations that form in nature. The piece called for a tripod, a acrylic glass ring, HMI spotlight, and a motor.  It appears to be set in a dark space, where the shadows and visual light patterns are the only focus. This installation piece looks very simple, construction and concept wise, but it has a very poetic and calming effect on viewers. The natural phenomenon behind the concept developed by the matierals and the environmental aspect of the piece seem to go very well with each other.  The piece is currently located at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, DC.


The following link is an interesting podcast from a couple of visitors that saw the piece and give great detail, explanation, and critique of the artwork.  Take a listen… http://www.podcast-directory.co.uk/episodes/%E2%80%9Cround-rainbow%E2%80%9D-by-olafur-eliasson-14473019.html






Tower of the Nameless

image of artwork

Rebecca Horn

Tower of the Nameless


Ladders, violins, motors, electronic components

Private Collection, Vienna, Austria

The breakup of Yugoslavia and the resulting Bosnian War led
to the displacement of a massive quantity of people. Many refugees fled into
Vienna, and soon the underground was filled with listless wanderers who did not
speak German or have any semblance of a home to return to. With no identity,
grasp of the language, or place to stay, music become the refugees’ only way to
express their shared sorrow. Horn created this piece in hopes of offering
stability to a nameless and lost people. The sculpture is composed of several
ladders extending from the ground and up to a very high window, adorned with
nine mechanical violins that play a single, mournful note on their own. It is
as if they sing of some kind of bittersweet hope of what might lie at the top
of the ladder and out into the sun. The melancholy humming of the violins has
been known to inspire buskers to improvise along with them. 

Where We Are is Always Miles Away


Tavares Strachan is known for exploring themes regarding space, containment and homeostasis, namely preserving the nature of moments and locative installations. There are definite similarities between Strachan’s ’05 work, “The Difference Between What We Have and What We Want,” and his ’06 project, ” Where We Are is Always Miles Away.” In “Difference,” Strachan removed a 4.5 ton block of Arctic ice to be displayed in his native Nassau, sealed in a solar-powered freezer. The concept of preserving objects exactly as they are found in their native locales is explored again in “Miles,” wherein the artist excised a 1.5 ton section of New Haven’s Crwon Street (including all the signs, meters, remaining earth and other materials attached to the section) and brought it to San Francisco [1]. Again the piece was displayed in a hermetically-sealed containment unit designed to mimic the atmosphere that would have surrounded the piece at the time of removal, essentially preserving a place and a moment both at once.

Stuck Red and Stuck Blue

Image of Stuck Red and Stuck Blue [1]

One of Turrell’s earlier works, Stuck Red and Stuck Blue are a pair of installations which were first
created in Mendota Studio in 1970 but not formally displayed in an exhibit
until nearly 20 years later in 1989. The installation consists of a pair of
clean-cut, rectangular shaped depressions in two opposite walls, each completely and
evenly illuminated by fluorescent lights (Stuck
Red illuminated by a red light while Stuck
Blue is illuminated by a blue light). The chamber the installation resides
in is very carefully crafted to make sure the walls, the light chambers, the
light illumination intensities and paths all share identical size. The chambers
then emit light that casts an even purple glow along the rest of the
installation. There is even an optical illusion included in the piece, giving
the impression that the light projections are a part of the same linear plane
as the walls are when viewed from a distance. Like many of his other light
based pieces, Stuck Red and Stuck Blue invoke
a sense of timelessness with their simplicity and usage of ageless light. As
quoted by Turrell himself in the book “James Turrell: The Art of Light and
Space”, “It has no sense of stylistic development”[2]; that is to say it does not
evolve or progress, but rather stays free of change or history and static in its
form. Turrell’s style of simplistic “sculpture” with light stands as a landmark
in optical manipulation, pushing themes of dichotomy and illusion(though he
doesn’t consider it so).

[1]: Image of Stuck Red and Stuck Blue from San Diego Contemporary Art Museum

[2]: James Turrell: The Art of Light and Space (Googlebooks)


Random Screen

Random Screen is a mechanical thermodynamic screen that the user can’t control and that functions without any electricity. Conventional tea candles illuminate and generate the changes on the 5×5 pixel screen. (early version 4×4) This work is one of a series of low-tech screen projects that was originally inspired by the Blinkenlights media façade of the Chaos Computer Club in Berlin.  The video documents Version 3, 2009.


papierpixelThe predecessor of Random Screen is the Papierpixel project (2005, left)  in which a manual screen was controlled by a punched tape system that had to be pre-programmed by hand. Random Screen takes the reduction of the electronics one step further. The pixels become independent and fire goes digital.

Each individual pixel of Random Screen is an independent unit [see image below, right]. Core components are a projection foil, a modified beer can and a small tea candle.The candle serves as a source of light; at the same time, the warmth it gives off sets the modified beer can in motion. The can, modified into a sort of freely rotating fan mounted above the candle, can spin around freely. The candlelight shines through a window cut in the beer can onto a projection surface and makes the pixel light up.



random pixelDepending on how fast the fan spins, it gently turns the respective pixel either on or off. The larger the candle’s flame, the brighter the pixel shines and the faster its switching frequency. The candlelight is diffused on a second projection foil in the middle of the pixel box in order to generate as little shadow-flickering as possible on the projection surface. The individual pixel boxes stacked on top of and next to one another form the Random Screen. The modularity of the pixels allows the screen surface to be expanded at will, and this construct’s simple components make it easy for others to copy.

Aram Bartholl 2005


Random Screen at :

– Transmediale 07, documentation here

– Ars Electronica 2006, documentation here

– 3rd (A) r4WB1t5 micro.Fest 21.01.06 at ENEMY galerie Chicago US

– 23C3 at the Blinkenarea 27-30.12.05

Continuel – Lumiere – Cylinder

According to artist Julio LeParc, a member of GRAV in Paris, our “first experiments with light were conducted in 1959: We place the light in small boxes which reproduced, multiplied and combined with the screens made of Plexiglas slates, prisms, squares and circle shapes, using a scale of 14 colours. Like in other experiments it is not about creating luminous paintings. The light is but a way to manifest some of my concerns, such apprehending the variation of the potential induced and to manifest it in one visual field. Many experiments were made from the handling of material and the differentiation of the issues. 

I also wanted to work simultaneously using reflections; some Plexiglas slates 45%,fixed or mobile elements placed on each side.So the reflected shapes inter penetrated in their transparency and seems to float in space. In other experiments of the same series, some Plexiglas slates were placed in depth so the lateral pictures lightening up alternatively, and created some visual sequences of 8 situations. Many topics can be subjected to all those experimental boxes, combining and alternating them in different way.

Le Parc, Continuel-Lumiere-MobileSome other experiments with the light are drawn from the mobile elements originally destined inside boxes. On the base of reflections of light on a background through small Plexiglas or metal slates, a series of experiments combined the place of the source of light, the incidence of the suspended elements, the shapes of the background. This series led me to realize in 1962 an ensemble destined to a white room in darkness.

The ensemble was laid out in the middle of a room; the suspended elements received 4 rays of light and distributed their reflections horizontally, vertically and obliquely on the wall, the ceiling and the floor. In 1962, I did other experiments using a ray of artificial light; some of them consist to project a ray of light on a cylinder  which reflected the ray and distorted it on a wooden white circle which was the bottom of the cylinder. The ray was then intercepted by mobile elements which fractioned it by different manners. The visual results on the white circle were a constant and imperceptible game of shadows and lights, which were previously set. The same principal of shaved light was used to other experiments.

At the same time I realized other experiments to visualize rays of light in the space. First I tried to suspend, inside those small transparent Plexiglas boxes, some particles with air; to be able to penetrate those boxes with ray in movement, but I finally used some water in small aquariums. The water coloured with fluorescent aniline, made the ray of light coming through, perfectly visible. From these experiments, I conceived a smoker’s room which walls pierced with small holes, made spout out the moving luminous rays, so the air from the room reduced from the smoke permitted the visualisation of all the rays penetrating in all directions. 

[In order] to surprise the viewer, to place him in the centre of a phenomenon, to embody him with[in a]  visual situation, some experiments were realized in the first Labyrinth our group [GRAV, Groupe de Recherche d’Art Visuel ] presented at the Biennale of Paris in 1963… Those experiments excluded the possibilities to apprehend the phenomenon with one look, like in the situation where traditional paintings hanged to a wall or sculpture on a stand where the viewer is turning around. On the contrary, they plunge [the viewer into] a visual situation…

Those experiments with light and movement are linked to the principal of moving away from a fix, stable and definite work. The viewer is surrounded with the development of a multitude of changes. The uniform support of the element or the forms, accentuates without distraction, the instability mode in evidence, so the viewer perceives a part of the changes which is enough to apprehend the total meaning of the experience.

In the traditional art work, everything is fixed by sign and keys one has to know to first be able to enjoy it. Facing this situation we thought, the presentation of experiments with multiple possibilities of change, from which the images were the results of the simple set up of elements more or less complex and not from an experimented hand, and where the artist represented a way limited but effective; starting or continuing the demolition of the traditional notions of Art and all its representation and appreciation.”

[1] Text and images by Julio Le Parc, artist’s website:  http://julioleparc.org/en/artwork.php?aw_cat_id=7

Cloud Canyon, Cloud Fruits

Medalla Cloud Fruits

bubble machines hung from the façade of the Goethe
Institute, London, 1972.


Cloud Canyon no 2, 1964 with David Medalla


Images:  http://www.1fmediaproject.net/2011/05/03/unlv-public-art-lecture-series-and-city-of-las-vegas-arts-commission-proudly-present-david-medalla/

The Jew of Malta

Jew of Malta - medial stage and costume design


The Jew of Malta – Scenic Concept: Content-driven Interaction

The Jew of Malta – Development of Costume Design

Description of the project

 The goal of the project was the enhancement of the traditional static stage setting into a reactive and dynamic stage design that plays its own vital role in the narration.

On the stage, large planes were arranged onto which architecture, generated in real-time, was projected. The projection screens formed clipping planes through an imaginary virtual architecture positioned on stage. Machiavelli’s – the opera’s protagonist’s – movements and gestures were camera-tracked, and the virtual architecture moved according to his movements and gestures. This concept allowed linking the staged action and the architecture closely: Machiavelli, as a powerful and dominant character in the play, has power over the stage (and consequently over his co-actors) through the possibilities of interaction given to him.

In addition to the architecture, the costumes of the actors were also augmented with digital media. Via a tracking system developed especially for this opera, digital masks were generated in real-time, according to the silhouettes of the actors. Textures were then pasted onto these masks, and the ensuing “media costumes” were projected to fit exactly onto the singers. This way, it was possible to depict the characters’ conditions and feelings with dynamic textures on their bodies.

Despite the complexity of the software and hardware developed for this project, technology was never at the forefront. The exclusive aim was to generate new ways of expression for the director and the actors.

The project was commissioned by the Opera Biennale Munich in 1999 and premiered in 2002. Composer: André Werner, libretto based on the novel by Christopher Marlowe. The project is a co-production between ART+COM and bureau+staubach, supported by ZKM Karlsruhe. Co-authors and developers: Nils Krueger, Bernd Lintermann, Andre Bernhardt, Jan Schroeder, Andeas Kratky.

source:  http://www.artcom.de/en/projects/project/detail/medial-stage-and-costume-design/

The Memory Plane

Video: http://julienmaire.ideenshop.net/mov/memory_cone_1_rc.mov

“The inverted cone” is a metaphor used in the book “Matter and Memory” from Henri Bergson: it’s a simple drawing: an inverted cone whose summit is inserted into a plane. The “plane P” as Bergson calls it is the plane of “my actual representation of the universe”. The cone can be shortly describe as different levels of memory and experiencesfocused on one point. When we move in present time our conscience is the summit ofthe cone.

The installation is an almost 1 to 1 transposition of the concept of Bergson into an optical process.

Slide pictures, buy on the fly market since ten years (collection of Sebastien Koeppel), have been used as basic memory material for the first presentation in Artefact Festival in Leuven (Belgium). Anonymous photographer, family pictures or industrial pedagogic slides are projected with a slide projector. Rather to enlarge the image on a screen, the still image is reduced by lenses and is concentrated on a “Digital mirror”.

DMD (Digital Micro-Mirror Device) are commonly used in video projector, they perform the “digital light processing” or DLP developed by Texas Instruments.

The installation uses a disassembled video projector, the micro mirror device was taken out from the video beamer and receives directly the reduced slide projection. The video beamer is connected to a camera that film the hand of the performer who organizes some simple pieces of papers (white or gray).

Each paper, open a window in the projection (white color triggers the micro mirror and project part of the photographic picture on the screen: the spectator see portion of the photographic picture through the video projection.

The performer chooses some details simply by moving the pieces of paper on a table. He discovers and recomposes slowly a global memory or performs a selective remind of a moment. Some pictures are trivial some other contains a large amount of information. Past and present medium are here in fusion in one shot: a projection of a moving plane (the video) is directly confronted with a still, there are two very different layers and they continue to carry their own visual basic properties.

The system produce a very particular composite image that have nothing to do with a digital
processing of a picture through a computer.

The system is working with all kind of positive film material, 35 mm, 8 mm, or 16 mm film as well as all kind of still pictures and also episcope projection which make possible to use all kind of paper / reproduction and archives.

Sobra la Falta

Biopus projectWhen in 1921 Czech writer Karel Capek presented to the world his science fiction play R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots), the technical object called “robot” was portrayed as a subject supposed to act as an obedient slave. Nowadays, what better illustrates such servitude role than the domestic vacuum cleaner Roomba, the crown jewel of domestic automation? But shouldn’t artificial objects upheavals and demand alternative functions, less humiliating and way more creative? The piece “Sobra la falta” (2008) [1], by the Argentinian artist collective Proyecto Biopus, goes precisely in that direction.

The phrase “Sobra la falta” can be translated as “the lack.”  The artwork is basically a “recycling” robot built with cheap components, which collects garbage thrown by the exhibition visitors, and uses the disposed material to draw pictures. Following simple software rules, the little thing crawls towards the dump site, executes a fine-toothed comb, sorts out objects of similar color and shapes and finally “sculpts” an image on the floor, based on shots previously taken. Then, a second robot suddenly “erases” the first’s work in order to it begin a new one, disturbing the living space comprised of humans beings and machines and jeopardizing the Good Neighbor Policy between them. After the fulfillment of robot’s participatory injunctions, the relationship is regained, referring to some meditations included in the introduction of the book Participation, edited by Claire Bishop (Bishop, 13).

Proyecto Biopus intends to generate left-wing commentary from the piece, putting in perspective social problems embodied by the labor conditions of sanitation workers, a well known unprivileged working class. In this respect, “Sobra la falta” can be compared to the work of Mierle Laderman Ukeles involving cleaning work, including “Touch Sanitation” (1970-80) in which she collaborated with the New York Department of Sanitation.  The group reveals, by means of a simple robot, cracks on the wall of the social relations brought on by new technologies (as suggested in another context by Nicolas Bourriaud, in Relational Aesthetics, p. 68). At the same time, “Sobra la falta” questions two crucial problems of our time: fly-tipping (illegal dumping) and blind consumerism.

A suggestion for relational aesthetics followers: How about display the Argentine group robot next to candy packages of Cuban artist Felix Gonzalez-Torres [2]? The critical potential of the two pieces would be better leveraged…

[1] http://www.proyecto-biopus.com.ar/biopus_eng/sobra_la_falta/index.html

[2] http://davidhorvitz.com/felix/


The Search for Luminosity

The Search of Luminosity  Source artist website

This installation that was at ArtBots 2008 in Dublin falls into the group ‘bio-art’. But unlike much bio-art, this work gently points toward a happy cyborgian union of biology and machine [1]. Allison Kudla uses technology and biology in her art to learn more about the world we live in.

For The Search for Luminosity, Kudla used six living Oxalis Regnelli (a.k.a. ‘lucky shamrock’) and one lamp dedicated to each plant. These plants have a special ability or characteristic to open their leaves when the sun/light appears, and to lower them at night. But that’s not all. The plants have a built in biological clock, which makes the opening process begin before the sun appears in order to give them a head start. Through evolutional survival, this must certainly have proven to be effective, enabling the plant to absorb more sunlight.

This plant is well suitable to an feedback loop installation. The exact working is explained in this video. In short: a scanner checks every plants’ status continuously for the positioning of their leafs. When a plant is preparing itself for sunrise, the scanner will switch the light above the plant on, while turning it off at the plant on its opposite side. This way, the plant can demand for sun. The installation is coordinated so that a cycle takes 24 hours to complete.

The Search of Luminosity  Source artist website

Kudla wants to give her plants some form of authority and power and herself some insight into the world. “By placing a level of communication between a plant and its sun, an additional degree of freedom is gained to the organism. In doing so, the movements of the organism caused its own physical structure and rhythm to change. It was only through this loss of balance that the reorganization could occur. Thus giving us a peek into the methods whereby we can recognize ourselves as open systems involved in a similar encounter.” [2] 

The Search of Luminosity  Source artist website

Ken Rinaldo also did a piece in which he illuminated living organisms in order for them to grow and to study their behaviour. He discussed this in ‘Technology Recapitulates Phylogeny: Artificial Life Art (1998) [3]. At one point, he says: “The collapse of individualistic, reductionist, hierarchical thinking has given rise to simultaneous world consciousness and therefore ideational plenitude. With this synthesis, humans are able to exploit models of living systems that demonstrate the possibilities for technology further recapitulating phylogeny. The hope is for a sustainable melding of our biological environment and the technotope. I for one look forward to the day when my artwork greets me with a ”good morning’ when it has not been programmed to do so.” Rinaldo also wants to see other biological life improving its intelligence. Kudla takes this one step further, by providing them with with tools of self empowerment. Will the earth see the day when it is ruled by plants?


[1] VIDA, Art and Artificial Life (international awards)

[2] Allison Kudla’s website

[3] Rinaldo in Shanken, Edward. Art and Electronic Media (Phaidon 2009): p. 249-250



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

Tape Noir

Tape Noir

Between Terminals C and D of Philadelphia International Airport, artist Mark Kaishman showcased his exceptional work Tape Noir from 10 September until 24 October 2009.
Using nothing other than regular packing tape, Kaishman recreated several iconic film noir movie stills.

Kaishman sticks strips of tape onto clear plates of Plexiglas, and only when placed in front of a light box can the image be seen. Varying the number of layers of tape produces the necessary shadows and highlights that otherwise cannot be perceived by the human eye until illuminated from behind. Kaishman considers his tape art to be “a form of painting. The 2-inch tape acts as a wide brush, and the light behind the panels as an alchemist’s luminous blending medium.” [1]

Kaishman started working with tape because of his fascination with light and light play. Originally, he approached this fascination as a traditional stained glass artist, in which medium he had a certain amount of experience. Kaishman soon discovered that, by using tape, he could still interact and play with light, but in a far more experimental manner. The use of tape was more than a replacement of stained glass, however. Tape “miraculously bonded together all my previous experiences.” [2]

Kaishman generally uses recognizable cultural icons, that have become infused in various aspects of Western culture. By using these images he can “highlight such issues as contrast of high and low culture, questioning authorship and anonymity, experiencing different timescales as in timelessness of the original versus expediency of packing tape, and exploring the phenomenon of presence as the inherence of prototypes within the tape images, kind of an incarnation of original in its remake.” [3]

By using standard packing tape, Kaishman took an ordinary and omnipresent object and infused it with an art form. In a way, he used a ‘found’ object to create and artwork, therefore turning his Tape Noir into an intermedium. [4] The tape is no longer a simple packaging aid, it is transformed to a new plane of existence, coexisting with Plexiglas and light, creating a unique representation of a (video) reality.

Tape Noir - Terminal View

Kaishman uses photographic stills to create his tape art, making it a strikingly representational art that is still recognizable as an image, yet so much more than a simple photograph. Perhaps his Tape Noir series can be seen as a small aid in ‘the death of photography’, as argued by Geoffrey Batchen. Batchen says that “ [p]hotography will seize to be a dominant element of modern life only when the desire to photograph […] is refigured as another social and cultural formation. So the end of photography cannot leave the equivalent of a clean slate. Indeed, photography’s passing must necessarily entail the inscription of another way of seeing – and of being.”[5]

This other way of seeing and being is perhaps embodied by Tape Noir, since it is a photograph dressed down to its bare necessities: small block of shadow and light creating the bare minimum of an image. The link with pixilation is quickly made. Tape Noir, being firmly embedded within photography and yet balancing this with digitally generated images, can perhaps be seen as the ambiguous grey area between ‘real’ and ‘virtual’, between representation and creation. Thus, Tape Noir is another example of art inavertedly exploring the possibilities the future may hold in store for us.



Artist’s Website


[1] [2] [3] Kaishman, Mark. ‘Frequently Asked Questions’. Retrieved from artist’s website:  http://www.khaismanstudio.com/images/popup9.htm

[4] Higgins, Dick. Intermedia. (1965). As found in Shanken, Edward. Art and Electronic Media. London: Phaidon, 2009: pp196

[5] Batchen, Geoffrey. Phantasm – Digital Imaging and the Death of Photography. (1994) As found in Shanken, Edward. Art and Electronic Media. London: Phaidon, 2009: pp210

77 Million Paintings

In 2009, Brian Eno – music inventor, record producer and acclaimed visual artist – was invited to Sydney to curate a project called Luminous, part of Vivid Sydney, a unique public festival to “transform the city into a spectacular living canvas of music and light in and around the Sydney Opera House, The Rocks, Circular Quay and City Centre.” [1]

The beauty of the festival lies not only in the array of different artworks and performances shown during the course of Luminous, but also, according to Eno, in the common denominator of the combined artists: the inability to place them in any obvious category. He stated that “[t]hey are people who work in the new territories, the places in between, the places out at the edges. […] Some of them take old forms and infuse them with new life, and make them new again, and others have invented forms of art that didn’t previously exist.” [2] Thus, Luminous created an outlet for the more ambiguous and less easily placed artworks.

The crowning jewel of the Luminous festival was Eno’s 77 Million Paintings, projected onto the distinctive white sails of the the Sydney Opera House (1973), the architectural landmark and designed by architect Jorn Utzon, designated by UNESCO as a world heritage site in 2007.

Through the use of self-generating software, three hundred images hand-drawn by Eno are randomly cut-up, the pieces rearranged and realigned in an endless variety of ways. The randomness of this rearrangement creates a constantly evolving artwork, with a seemingly infinite number of combinations, hence the title.  Accompanying the light show is a specially made soundtrack, interwoven with the projected images, all set to create a “mesmerizing soundscape”. [3]

With 77 Million Paintings, Eno stated he wanted the people watching his work to “surrender to another kind of world,” [4] to embrace their own imagination through this surrender. He said that “[b]y allowing ourselves to let go of the world that we have to be part of every day, and to surrender to another kind of world, we’re allowing imaginative processes to take place.” [5] Art, according to Eno, triggers the imaginative process, and through imagination alone can we cope with the gruesome encounters of everyday life. Imagination enables mankind to survive, even during the hardest of times – such as the economic crisis we have been facing the last year or so. [6]


77 Million Paintings is said to be a “very meditative experience” [7], by chief executive Richard Evans. Using the Sydney Opera House (1973), designed by architect Jorn Utzon as the backdrop for this work of art was not a simple choice either. Evans: “[w]e are not colouring in the opera house, we’re actually kind of taking the art of the opera house and raising it to a different level.” [8] In other words: the iconic white sails of the opera house are not just used as a large projection piece, 77 Million Paintings and the opera house itself cooperate extrinsically in order to create a whole new level of artistic experience.

The ambient, looping quality of the work shares similarities with Eno’s early ambient recordings, including his seminal Music for Airports, 1977, which “was designed to be continuously looped as a sound installation, with the intent to diffuse the tense, anxious atmosphere of an airport terminal.”

Kepes%20Light%20Mural%20for%20KLM.jpgHistorical precursors to 77 Million Paintings in the domain of visual art include  Gyorgy Kepes’ Light Mural for KLM, 1959. Light Mural for KLM was programmed by Kepes as “an immense kinetic mural, in which stencilled shapes in light emulate […] the poetry of a cityscape as seen from an airplane at night. Superimposed over the thousands of tiny points of light are coloured arabesques illuminated at different tempos.” [9] Though Kepes did not have the technology at hand to create a flowing and randomly computer-generated work such as Eno’s, his mural can be seen as a predecessor to Eno’s piece. Both are displayed on large scale public building, using lights and changing light patterns at varying speed intervals to create a mesmerizing illuminated artwork, to be enjoyed by everyone. No doubt, for its time, Light Mural for KLM could also be viewed as a meditative experience, not unlike 77 Million Paintings. There is a undeniably hypnotic experience to watching a large scale light play, be it projected and created through techniques of the 2000s, as in Akira Hasegawa’s Digital Kakejiku or with the light installations of the 1950s.

Brian Eno and his 77 Million Paintings are also a contemporary embodiment of Bauhaus master László Maholy-Nagy’s visionary use of artificial light as an art medium, exemplified by his nenowned Light Space Modulator or Light Prop (1930). Maholy-Nagy was also an important theorist on the topic, writing in 1928 that,

light_space1319564216405.png“Ever since the introduction of the means of producing high-powered, intense artificial light, it has been one of the elemental factors in art creation, though it has not yet been elevated to its legitimate place. The night life of a big city can no longer be imagined without the varied play of electric advertisements, or night air traffic without lighted beacons along the way. The reflectors and neon tubes of advertising signs, the blinking letters of store fronts, the rotating coloured electric bulbs, the broad strip of the electric new bulletin are elements of a new field of expression, which will probably not have to wait much longer for its creative artists.” [10]

With the advent of projection mapping and public screens, the artistic use of light has become an increasingly prevalent mode of production, and creative artists like Eno are expanding the field and contributing to its critical acceptance. On the other side of the spectrum of scale, Eno has also developed a number of applications for smartphones and pads that allow users to interact with generative ambient image and soundscapes, providing an intimate person experience.


Luminous Festival Website no longer operational.  Festival now called VIVID

Brian Eno (Wikipedia)



[1] [2] Luminous Festival Media Release, March 19, 2009. Retrieved from Luminous Festival website (no longer online) http://luminous.sydneyoperahouse.com.

[3] 77 Million Paintings, found under ‘Installations’ at official Luminous website.

[4] [5] [6] [7] [8]  Mail Foreign Service. ‘Sydney Opera House’s white sails turn into giant canvas for spectacular light display’. Daily Mail Online. 26 May 2009. Retrieved from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1188229/Sydney-Opera-Houses-white-sails-turn-giant-canvas-spectacular-light-display.html#ixzz0j7Qx2PsQ

[9] Kepes, Gyorgy. Light Mural for KLM. (1959) As found in Shanken, Edward. Art and Electronic Media. London: Phaidon, 2009: pp58

[10] Maholy-Nagy, László. The New Vision. (1928) in Shanken, Edward. Art and Electronic Media. London: Phaidon, 2009: pp 194

[11] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ambient_1:_Music_for_Airports

Coincidence Engines

Coincidence Engine One: Universal People’s Republic Time

Coincidence Engine Two: Approximate demarcator of constellations
in other cosmos

Coincidence Engines is a series of works conceived in homage to the Poème Symphonique of 20th-century Hungarian composer György Ligeti, who used metronomes not for their intended utilitarian purpose of keeping musical time, but as musical instruments in their own right. Extending and developing this approach, Coincidence Engines employs a multitude of dynamically modulated time-keeping devices to explore themes of regimentation, multiplicity, (im)perfection and entropy.

The project reinterprets the clock as a machine that has the capacity to transcend the workaday function of keeping time. Coincidence Engines treats the seemingly mundane event of a clock’s tick as a building block for the construction of rich and complex acoustic structures. Massed clock ticks, both freely drifting and rigorously synchronized, fill a series of environments configured to focus, stimulate and challenge the visitor’s visual and auditory perception. Alternately mesmerizing, contemplative and thought-provoking, Coincidence Engines opens a space wherein the passage of time can be considered simultaneously as an abstract concept and as a sensuous, aesthetic experience.

Beyond being sound-producing instruments, the Coincidence Engines installations are free-standing, quasi-architectural constructions that are integral to the viewer-listener’s absorption in fields of sonorous expression. The work’s hybrid, interdisciplinary approach is simultaneously engaging and sophisticated. Coincidence Engines’ potent experiential qualities provide multiple points for audiences’ interactions with an innovative form of contemporary cultural expression.

Coindicence Engines One and Two

Coincidence Engine One

The work consists of a number of different works, including Coincidence Engine One and Coincidence Engine Two, which shall be discussed. Coincidence Engine One, subtitled Universal People’s Republic Time consists of a large number of unsynchronized clocks whose combined ticking sounds produce an unusual and intriguingly organic sonic environment. The way the small sounds of a single clock are magnified by the sheer number of the clocks (1,226 battery-powered alarm clocks were used, set in an expanded polystyrene structure) gives the spectator the impression that a great deal of effort is involved in the moving of time, with each second that passes. The proverbial ‘sea of time’ becomes somewhat tangible on the auditive scale, engrossing the spectator in the textured noise of clicking and clacking. The design of the polystyrene structure in which the clocks are set, facilitaties this swallowing of the spectator by ‘time’.

Coincidence Engine Two

Coincidence Engine Two, subtitled Approximate demarcator of constellations in other cosmos develops a sophisticated synchronization control and amplification system around a group of 96 specially-modified clocks that enables the artists to articulate audio-visual compositions by programming and sequencing the clocks’ ticking behaviour, which is then amplified through use of installed loudspeakers. Coincidence Engine Two relation to Coincidence Engine One is the aspect of control, the juxtaposition (as exists between the two works) of structure and chaos.

Where in One the soundscape was that of textured layers of clicking and turning, Two delivers an experience of structure, set into place by the creators of the work, who chose to ‘orchestrate time’ in this piece, instead of merely ‘setting time’ and then leaving it be to lead it’s ticking life. The aspect of control also suggests the agency of man over time, as opposed to the passive role. One gives a sense of surrendering to time, being swallowed by it, as is also reflected in the engulfing set-up of the installation. In Two, however, the shape of the installation is more reminiscent of a table used for planning business, architecture or possible even reflecting a pool table, which are all nods towards human agency and ability to plan and create order in chaos. In the words of Naum Gabo and Anton Pevsner as stated in their work The Realistic Manifesto: “we construct our work as the universe constructs its own, as the engineer constructs bridges, as the mathematician his forumla of the orbits. We renounce the thousand-year-old delusion in art that held the staic rhythms as the only elements of the plastic and pictorial arts. We affirm in these arts a new element the kinetic rhythms as the basic forms of our perception of real time.” (Gabo & Pevsner 1920, p. 193) Coincidence Machines does then indeed construct exactly that: kinetic rhythms that reflect basic forms of our perception of real time, that being the clock itself.

Links & References

Naum Gabo and Anton Pevsner. The Realistic Manifesto, 1920. In: Edward Shanken, red. Art and Electronic Media. London:
Phaidon, 2009, p. 193

Coincidence Machines

Links to video of the installations

Rechnender Raum (Computing Space)

Ralf Baecker’s work Rechnender Raum (Computing Space) received its name from Konrad Zuse’s book of the same title from 1967, the first book on digital physics. Zuse proposed that the universe is being computed in real time on some sort of discrete computing machinery, thus challenging the view that some physical laws are continuous by nature. The physicist focused on cellular automata as a possible substrate of the computation.

Baecker’s kinetic sculpture seems to embody what the scientist claimed at the time, it could perhaps be one of Zuse’s cellular automata; it is an artificial, functional, logically exact neural network. “Through its strict geometric and otherwise very filigree construction, the observer is able to track the whole processing logic from every viewpoint around the machine. This disclosure of the machines core is enforced by an uncommon distribution of its constructing elements: a nine angled architectural body forms a torus. In contrast to an ordinary alignment of a hidden logic and an outer user facing display its geometric basis is turned inside-out. The core of the machine, with all its computing elements, is shifted outwards on the surface, while the “display” which indicates the results of the tasks is displaced into the centre of the system. Even though the tasks and their logic run directly in front of the viewers eyes and even if one is long sinking into the interaction of the elements which is accompanied by a polyphonic but steady and reassuring buzz, it is not possible to follow the succession of the single conditions of the machine.” [1]

Constructed from sticks, strings and small plumb-bobs, Rechnender Raum resembles a large cage from afar. As an observer, one has the impression that it hosts a living being, as the ever-turning mechanisms of the kinetic sculpture emit insect-like hums and buzzes. As the functions of the mechanism are kept on the outside of the sculpture, one can easily follow them, yet the results of the computations enter the centre of the structure and are hidden from the observer. “So an interesting paradox appears: while the machine opens up everything it closes it at the same time, as if it has a secret.” [2] Baecker’s sculpture’s is extremely captivating through its intricate endlessness, transparency, fragility and power.

This work can also be seen as the grandchild of works such as Moholy-Nagy’s Light Space Modulator or Schoffer’s CYSP I. However, Rechnender Raum does not interact with, or extend itself into the physical environment.  Rather, it creates an internally self-propelling network of endless, balanced duration. It fulfills what Moholy-Nagy wrote in 1928, “The next stop between the equipoise is kinetic equipoise, in which the volume relationships are virtual ones, i.e., resulting mainly from the actual movement of the contours, rings, rods and other objects. Here the material is employed as a vehicle of motion. To the three dimentions of volume, a fourth – movement – (in other words, time is added).” [3]

Baecker’s Computing Space can be seen at the Netherlands Media Art Institute in Amsterdam in the Sonic Acts XIII exhibition 25 February – 2 May, 2010.



[1] Ralf Baecker’s website

[2] Ibid.

[3] Moholy-Nagy, Laszlo, The New Vision, 1928, In: Edward Shanken, red. Art and Electronic Media. London:
Phaidon, 2009, p. 193

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


The Crossing

The Crossing

The Crossing by Bill Viola consists of a large screen which displays a motion picture on both sides (front and back) simultaniously. It is hung in the middle of a room so viewers can walk around it if they wished. On one side, the video shows a man walking towards the audience in slow motion. He comes to a halt, and moments later a fire starts at his feet. The fire climbs up his body until the man is entirely covered in flames. When the fire slows again, the man is gone, guzzled by the fire.                                                                                               

On the other side of the screen, the same man walks towards the audience in slow motion. But when he stops this time, water starts dripping on his head. Gradually, more and more water falls down on him until finally he is not visible anymore, completely hidden behind the water. Again, when the water stops falling, the man has disappeared. All this was accompanied by matching sounds.

Video documentation of The Crossing and making of the work can be found on the SF MOMA website:  http://www.sfmoma.org/multimedia/videos/11

Viola’s personal history unveils why his art (almost) always has something to do with water. When he was six years old, he fell out of a boat when he was on holiday with his parents. He nearly drowned. But unlike most people, Viola described the experience as “… the most beautiful world I’ve ever seen in my life” and “without fear,” and “peaceful” [1]. This near-drowning experience  resulted in his fascination with water.

“Often I’ve used water as a metaphor, the surface both reflecting the outer world and acting as a barrier to the other world.” [2]

For The Crossing, Viola added another element: fire; water’s natural opposite. This results in an interesting interplay between antipoles. Tung Nguyen says this piece is about balance. “The concept of balance is presented through opposite concepts that each alone is an extreme that can only be balanced by one of the other extreme. Left – right, fire – water, red – blue, warm – cool, hot – cold, bottom – top, and so on. The viewer can even sense the artist’s desire for moderation, for compromise, and the message that the extremes are what harming us (burnt by fire or washed away by water) and we need a common ground to survive.” [3]

But one might also think about the disappearance as the most important part. Where has the man gone, is he dead? Or is he in a higher state? Perhaps he has dissolved on to the other side of the screen: first catching fire to be put out by the water later or first being soaking wet and in need of some warmth. In that case it is more a “what-came-first-the-chicken-or-the-egg” kind of question. Who is to say? One thing is certain: Bill Viola says the idea came out of his  unconscious. Since we can’t look there for answers, we should probably interpret this piece on our own, with help of our own unconscious part of our brain.

In the following video, the artist explains how he got the idea and why
he just had to make this piece:

In Viola’s essay, ‘Will There Be Condominiums in Data Space?’ (1982) [3], he brings up the subject of the ‘brain’. He says: “In our brain, constantly flickering pulses of neuron firings create a steady-state field onto which disturbances and perturbations are registered as percepts and thought forms. This is the notion that something is already ‘on’ before you approach it, like the universe, or like a video camera which always needs to be ‘video-ing’ […].” This explains how the idea got into his head: it was at first pulses of neuron firings which turned into thought forms. The brain is always on, you can’t switch it off. The idea was just pulsed into his head. So basically, when we are watching this artwork, we are looking at an adaptation of random neuron firings in Bill Viola’s head.



[1] Bill Viola: The Eye of the Heart. Dir. Mark Kidal. DVD. Film for the Humanities & Sciences, 2005. Quote on Wikipedia

[2] Interview from Michael Nash, 1990

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

Artist Website


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




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>


Going Forth By Day

Bill Viola

‘We live in the mechanical age. Painted canvas and upright plaster no longer hace a reason to exist. We need a change is essence and in form. We need to go beyond painting, sculpture, poetry and music. We need a greater art in harmony with the requirements of the new issue.’  – Lucio Fontana, “White Manifesto” 1946 (in AEM, p, 194).

The use of video and exploration of the moving image can definitely be seen as a change from traditional art forms. Bill Viola has been a pioneer in the use of video and the exploration of the moving image, creating single-channel videotapes, installations, and a range of artworks that reflect his deep engagement with art history, spirituality, and conceptual, as well as perceptual, issues. 

‘Viola’s new installation is a highly complex project shot on state-of-the-art, High Definition Video technology, and involved the use of a variety of locations for recording, an extremely high level of cinematic production values, and the technical expertise needed to create the individual panels with sophisticated digital processing and post-production editing.’ (1)

The artwork ‘Going Forth By Day’ explores themes of human existence: individuality, society, birth, death, rebirth. Commissioned by the Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin, the work is experienced architecturally, with all five image-sequences playing simultaneously in one large gallery. Entering the space, as a visitor you literally step into the light pf the first image. Once inside, you stand at the center of an image-sound world with projections on every wall. The story told by each panel is embedded within the larger narrative cycle of the room. As a visitor you are free to move around the space. Panels are either to be watched individually or as a whole experience.


Video of “The Deluge,” part of the Going Forth by Day cycle.

’The five image sequences are each approximately thirty-five minutes in length and play simultaneously on continuous loops. Sound from each panel mixes freely with the space, creating an overall acoustic ambience. The images are projected directly onto the walls—without screens or framed supports—as in Italian Renaissance frescoes, where the paint was applied directly onto the wet plaster surface of the walls. The title of the work derives from a literal translation of the title of the Egyptian Book of the Dead, “The Book of Going Forth by Day”—a guide for the soul once it is freed from the darkness of the body to finally “go forth by the light of day.’ ” Exhibition curator John G. Hanhardt states, “Together, the suite of works serves to create an epic articulation of the passage of nature’s cycles and offers mythic reflections on the temporal flow of birth and regeneration” (2). 


‘As the viewer passes through the entryway, he/she will walk through “Fire Birth,” a large image of a body submerged in flaming red water, an allusion to the world ending in fire and beginning in water. On the left wall of the gallery, the panel “The Path” is projected, a long, panoramic moving image of individuals walking through a wooded environment; a flow of humanity engaged in a never ending journey. The facing wall features the panel “The Deluge,” which depicts the façade of a building with people fleeing a deluge of water that bursts out of the building. On the right gallery wall is the panel “The Voyage,” which suggests a narrative of passage, as a dying old man in a house overlooking a large body of water, has a boat prepared to depart for the far shore. The final panel, “First Light,” shows a landscape at dawn with a group of rescue workers, who, exhausted by their efforts to save lives after a catastrophe, finally succumb to sleep; as they sleep, a man silently rises out from the water into the heavens.

Bill Viola’s images are designed to the echo the Renaissance fresco painting. The images are projected directly on the wall, no framing mechanism has been used. You could say that the combination of religion and modern art installations is quite remarkable. Though here, Viola did a great job putting all the elements in harmony.

1. Press release, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 2002.    http://www.guggenheim.org/new-york/press-room/press-releases/press-release-archive/2002/661-july-26-bill-viola-going-forth-by-day

2. Ibid.




“Audiopad is a composition and performance instrument for electronic music which tracks the positions of objects on a tabletop surface and converts their motion into music. One can pull sounds from a giant set of samples, juxtapose archived recordings against warm synthetic melodies, cut between drum loops to create new beats, and apply digital processing all at the same time on the same table. Audiopad not only allows for spontaneous reinterpretation of musical compositions, but also creates a visual and tactile dialogue between itself, the performer, and the audience.” [1].

“Audiopad has a matrix of antenna elements which track the positions of electronically tagged objects on a tabletop surface. Software translates the position information into music and graphical feedback on the tabletop. Each object represents either a musical track or a microphone.” [1].

The project is done by graduate students of MIT at the MIT Media Lab, Tangible Media Group. PingPongPlus – by the same Tangible Media Group – is also an example of charging interaction in an environment with visual feedback in otherwise empty space.

This work is very similar to the Reactable developed within the Music Technology Group at the Universitat Pompeu
in Barcelona, Spain by Sergi Jordà, Marcos Alonso, Martin Kaltenbrunner and Günter Geiger.

The work is also similar to Piano as an Image Media (1995) in AEM. In this artwork the computer and a musical instrument are combined by mediating the striking on the piano keys. Similarly to Audiopad is the computer mediated interface that replaces the physical interaction with this instrument. Both use touch and movement gestures and visual feedback to create sound and music. In Piano as an Image Media the sound originates from one physically present instrument where Audiopad seems to be able to present an unlimited library of computer generated sounds.

Lucio Fontana makes a striking notion on the limitation of one instrument alone. Movement and color – both implemented by AudioPad – create extra dimensions in The White Manifesto (1946): “Matter, colour and sound in movement are the phenomena whose simultaneous development completes new art. Colour in volume develops in space adopting successive forms. Sound produced by means that are still unknown. Musical instruments do not satisfy the need for vast ranges of sound and do not produce sensations of the required breadth.” [2].

Article in Wired: http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/news/2003/07/59837

[1] Project website: http://www.jamespatten.com/audiopad/index.php

[2] Edward Shanken, red. Art and Electronic Media. London: Phaidon, 2009 P. 195

Robotarium X

Artist Leonel Moura’s Robotarium X is the first zoo for robots. At the center of this public garden in the Jardim Central in Lisbon, Portugal, is a large glass structure containing 45 robots, most powered by photovoltaic (solar) energy. The robots are all original, created specifically for the project, representing 14 species classified by distinct behavior strategies and body morphologies. Obstacle avoidance, movement or sunlight detection and interaction with the public are some of the robots skills.


Robotarium X approaches robots very much in the way as we are accustomed to approaching human beings. We, humans, enjoy watching and studying the behavior of other life forms and many people also enjoy capturing and killing them. However, in this case, although the robots are confined to a cage, the Robotarium is their ideal environment with plenty of sun, smooth surfaces to move on, tranquility and attention. There are no fights or aggression and the only competition is to assure a place under the sunlight (1).

As Jack Burnham asked himself in his essay ‘Robot and Cyborg Art’, ‘Is it possible then that art is a form of biological signal?’ ‘If man is approaching a time of radical change, one not controlled by natural selection and mutation, what better non-scientific way exists for anticipating self-re-creation than the spiritually motivated activity of artificially forming images of organic origin?’ (2) Following this, Robotarium X can be seen as an art work of a new kind of art that realizes a critical questioning of knowledge and culture. Notions like nature, life, the artificial, machine, art, culture and science, are challenged by this display.

Inspired by the Johnson Solid named ‘Bilunabirotunda’ the structure is made of steel and glass creating a very transparent environment that allow for a good visibility from the exterior and plenty of sun exposure for the robots. The space inside is around 22 m2 with 4 meters at its higher point (3).

Another great artwork by Moura, which involves animal or better ‘insect robots’, is ‘Portable Robotaria’. This is a series of lab-like displays containing ‘insect robots’ fed by electric light.

1. www.leonelmoura.com

2. Jack Burnham, Art and Electronic Media, p. 247

3. www.leonelmoura.com

“Coeurs Volants” by Marcel Duchamp


Coeurs Volants (also known as Fluttering hearts or Flying hearts) is a collage Marcel Duchamp made in 1936 for the cover of an issue of Cahiers d’art which contained an essay by Gabrielle Buffet-Picabia (ex-wife of the Dada artist and close friend of Duchamp Francis Picabia, ed.) on Duchamp’s optical machines and experiments, entitled ‘Coeurs volants’. The collage is composed of three hearts, one inside the other, in alternating colours of, red, and blue that create the optical illusion known in French as ‘coeurs volants’ because the contrasting colours of blue and red appear to ‘fly’ towards the viewer.” 1.

Watched through stereo-glasses the image becomes three-dimensional, possibly Duchamp’s intention. Apparently, however, Duchamp never told anyone that this effect would occur when the artwork is seen through such glasses.

Many contemporary artists cite Duchamp as a founding father, the creation of Coeurs volants certainly was a milestone for pop art, op art, and other contemporary reflections on iconic imagery and perception. Duchamp pioneered the use of science in art, not merely sticking to the discipline of art. In doing so, he is an important model for contemporary interdiscplinary artists.

Duchamp was fascinated by the human perception of motion, and much of his work shows this. He thought that movement, next being physical, also was social. While many of his artworks actually moved, Coeur Volants does not, so there seems to be little resemblence between them. Many of these works however, like Coeur Volants, are also examining the perception of motion. An example of this is the appearance of concentric circles on the spinning plates of Rotary Glass Plates (Precision Optics). Moreover, in his early days Duchamp created another artwork that only suggested and did not actually move; this inspiring piece is Nude Descending a Staircase. The artwork itself is inspired by Eadweard Muybridge’s chronophotographic motion sudies, it is based on a studies showing a naked woman descending a staircase. When looked upon Nude Descending a Staircase does the same thing as Coeur Volants, it appears to actually move.

Naum Gabo, like Duchamp, was also fascinated by the perception of motion. In his Kinetic Construction (Standing Wave) an undulation is induced in a standing pole, the high frequency makes it appear like a solid object. Both Coeur Volants and Kinetic Construction (Standing Wave) demonstrate that human perception is restricted and does not always reveal pure reality.

Asociation Arte Concreto Invención and Lucio Fontana were undoudtedly influenced by Duchamp and his art based on perception when they wrote their manifestos, both argue in favour of motion in art. (AEM194-195) In the Inventionist Manifest, dating 1946, AACI argues that the essence of representational art is illusion, among others they explicitly mention the illusion of movement. Their slogan, “Exalt the optical” reinforces Duchamp’s work, as this is very much in the spirit of Coeur Volants.

1. Source: ‘Marcel Duchamp in Newark’ by Helmut Wohl, in The Burlington Magazine, vol. 145, no. 1198, pp 36-39. http://www.jstor.org/stable/3100582


“Pulse Room” by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer

"Pulse Room" at Artefact Festival, Leuven BE

Pulse Room is an interactive installation featuring one to three hundred clear incandescent light bulbs, 300 W each and hung from a cable at a height of three metres. The bulbs are uniformly 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. At any given time the installation shows the recordings from the most recent participants.

This work was inspired by Macario, directed by Roberto Gavaldón in 1960, a film where the protagonist suffers a hunger-induced hallucination in which every person is represented by a lit candle in a cave. Other references for this work include minimalist, machinic and serialist patterns in music (for example in scores by composers Conlon Nancarrow, Steve Reich and Glenn Branca) and the postulation of the theory of Cybernetics at the National Institute of Cardiology in Mexico City to explain the process of self-regulation of the heart.” 1.

"Pulse Room" lightbulb close-upRafael Lozano-Hemmer creates an awareness of the audience that participated in the piece by showing their former presence in a visualy impressive environment. Witness by Susan Hiller more or less does the same thing, supported by sound. Mikami’s World, Membrane and the Dismembered Body also uses sound, supported by visualisations, to create awareness of the bodily functions, instead of using only illumination. As Pulse Room functions through simulation of the heartbeat, Bodies© INCorporated by Vesna, Nideffer and Freitas is based visitors making their own simulations. The visitors of both works are incorporated in the pieces, each participant retaining their own identity in the ‘public’ flux. Bodies© INCorporated though, wages critique on contemporary capitalism, a critique that is nowhere to be found in Pulse Room.

Pulse Room is a fairly accessible piece of art, enjoyed by artlovers and non-artlovers alike as a special experience. This corresponds with Lozano-Hemmer’s own plea against the views on ‘Technologically Correctness’ in art and how art should be ‘Technologically Correct’. In Perverting Technological Correctness (AEM 240) Lozano-Hemmer claims that in judging if a contemporary media artwork is ‘Technologically Correct’ one should observe the level of ‘specialness’ and that these artworks do not have to meet certain arbitrairy rules, like providing global culture and introducing infinite creative possibilities. Pulse Room has this certain specialness, ignores all the established rules on ‘Technical Correctness’.

1. Source: www.lozano-hemmer.com

“Revolving Hotelroom” by Carsten Höller

Revolving Hotelroom at Gugenheim NY

“Definitely pricey, but also the perfect Christmas gift for that special someone who says contemporary art puts them to sleep.” 1.
“Carsten Höller’s Revolving Hotelroom invites guests to stay over at the museum by sleeping in an art installation comprised of three turning glass discs mounted onto a fourth disc “that all turn harmoniously at a very slow speed.” 1.

Briefly after its premiere at the Gugenheim NY, UK-based newspaper The Guardian wrote the following on their website:

“Thanks to the artist Carsten Höller, you can get your own hotel room for two at the Guggenheim in New York this October (2008, ed.). Holler is installing a fully serviced hotel room – consisting of three revolving discs carrying a dressing area, desk and double bed – in the gallery as part of the show theanyspacewhatever, celebrating the work of 10 artists whose careers the Guggenheim has been central to. Holler’s work is fully equipped for overnight guests, who will have full access to the exhibition at night – but be on full view to the public during the day. Guests will also have to pay for the privilege – the museum is charging a fee through the website of New York’s Waldorf-Astoria hotel. For the show’s curator, Nancy Spector, the work is “a great example of how Carsten and each one of these artists is interested in engaging the viewer … in the very realisation of their artwork.” 2.

Revolving Hotelroom resembles Jenny Holzer’s Untitled by the way it becomes part of the museum, it is literally incorporated in the structure. Also both first appeared at the Gugenheim in Manhattan. Another connection can be made to Field of Interaction, because this work makes an entire room into an artwork, but an artwork that still fullfils its initial function as hallway. Just like Revolving Hotelroom is stil a functioning hotelroom.

Duchamp's "Fountaine"

Revolving Hotelroom‘s best resembling artwork though, is not featured in the Art and Electronic Media book. This is Marcel Duchamp’s Fountaine. It so much resembles Revolving Hotelroom because of the usage of context, in fact this is what makes these artworks to art. Both works are in it self objects of use (considering a hotelroom to be an object), by placing them in the context of a museum they become art. The difference here is that Revolving Hotelroom preserves its function, where Fountaine is rendered useless. Moreover, the museum not only influences Revolving Hotelroom, this influencing works in two ways. Because it exhibits Revolving Hotelroom the museum is tranformed into a hotel, at the same time retaining its primary function. The ontology of both museum and artwork are fundamentally changed by ech others influence, their very essence has become twofold.

Indeed, like many artworks this work seems to fall in between, like Higgins remarked in his 1965 writing Intermedia (AEM 196). But not in between media. As in these times the separation of the media of which Higgins spoke is not as evident anymore, aided by the rise of internet. No, Revolving Hotelroom falls between ontological function instead.

The video’s below both follow guests of Revolving Hotelroom at Museum Boijmans van Beuningen in Rotterdam, where it featured as part of the Divided, Divided exhibition. The upper video is German spoken and was made for German television. The bottom one is in Dutch, made for the blog of Dutch newspaper NRC-Next.

1. Source: http://gothamist.com

2. Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk

“Creepy Circus Song” by ArcAttack

Creepy circus song's tesla coil generators“Texas group ArcAttack make music by manipulating electrical arcs generated by Tesla coils . In these two videos (shown below, ed.), they perform Creepy Circus Song.” 1.

“The crew of Texas-based band ArcAttack are responsible for creating the incredibly neat Singing Tesla Coil, which was present again at 2009’s edition of Dragon*Con. Almost like a real-life AniMusic (computer animated music, ed.), ArcAttack features a robotic drummer, an organ made of PVC pipe, and of course their giant Singing Tesla Coils. Add in a bit of guitar and you have an ArcAttack show. Check out the awesome Tesla Coil emulator over on their website. A very interesting and unique experience.” 2.

This work uses tesla coils to generate spectacular visual and sonic effects much like lightening and thunder, as in the work of Orr and Schwartz.  Similarly, the use of high voltage electric current in Doorway to Heaven by Chris Burden, reveals the dual mythic nature of electricity – as a vital source of energy but as a potential hazard that can take life away (as in Mary Shelley’s Victorian thriller, Frankenstein or, The Modern Prometheus.

Without the existence of science an espescially physics, this artwork could never have been made. This fact, brings to our attention that science and art must closely work together and form a pact. For long, back in 1920, Gabo and Pevsner pleaded for this joining of forces in their Realistic Manifesto. Both disciplines can benefit from eachother, and most important of all, humanity benefits from this cooperation.

1. Source: www.rhizome.org

2. Source: http://yousoundlikearobot.com

“Man With A Movie Camera:the Global Remake” by Perry Bard

Man with a movie camera: the global remake“Man With a Movie Camera: The Global Remake is a participatory video shot by people around the world who are invited to record images interpreting the original script of Vertov’s Man With A Movie Camera and upload them to this site. Software developed specifically for this project archives, sequences and streams the submissions as a film. Anyone can upload footage. When the work streams your contribution becomes part of a worldwide montage, in Vertov’s terms the “decoding of life as it is”.” 1.

“Everyday a new version of the movie is built. On the left is Vertov’s original. On the right is a shot uploaded from a participant. The uploaded shots are rotated each day if there is more than one. So the built movie may never be quite the same. Black shots are still waiting for an upload.” 1.

Like Beatles Electroniques this project experiments with hybrid media, combining film and Internet (instead of film and video). By remaking Man with a movie camera in a participatory way, many spontaneous and creative copies emerge, suggesting the same properties in humanity. This parallels the spontaneous use of technologies of rapid reproduction in Bruni Munari’s Xenografie Originali  In another sense this global remake matches Matt Mullican’s Computer Project, through the fascination with notions of perception, collection, organization and representation as well as the love for everyday experience and human interaction with the outside world. But above all Man with a movie camera: the global remake most strikingly resembles Glyphiti by Andy Deck in being a collaborative web-based artwork, which is made up of many fragments that change over time.

The basic principle of this artwork has its roots in Bertolt Brecht’s 1932 manifesto “The Radio as an Apparatus of Communication,” advocating a two way communication in radio (AEM 228). The Vertov remake embraces the idea that one must be able to recieve as well as to transmit through the media, even if this medium is film. Besides empowering the periphery and the margins by collaboration, the global scale of this project incites a greater consciousness of the world (population) as Roy Ascott proposed (AEM 231). 

More background information on Vertov’s original version can be found on http://dziga.perrybard.net. You will also find the instructions on uploading your own scene into the movie.


1. Source: http://dziga.perrybard.net/

Cheap Imitation

‘Cheap Imitation’ is an homage to Marcel Duchamp, who was himself a frequent re-user of existing works of art. In this installation David Rokeby has cut up Duchamp’s ‘Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2’ (1912, below, left) into several hundred facets. This faceted image is projected on a wall in life-size. All the facets are interactive, they will only light up when there’s movement in front of their exact locations. When there’s no movement, the projection is all black. This means that the nude from the projection will start coming to life through motion tracking.

A monitoring camera is pointed at the viewer from the screen. When the viewer moves his/her hand, only a part of the projected image is revealed. When the viewer moves his/her whole body, the entire work can be revealed. So through a participant’s motion, the artwork of Duchamp temporarily comes to life; the facets illuminate and fade away revealing the dynamic experience of a movement.


      Cheap Imitation


Duchamp’s ‘Nude Descending a Staircase’ was inspired by Eadweard J. Muybridge‘s ‘Woman Walking Downstairs’ (below, center) – a stop-motion film from his 1887 picture series, published as ‘The Human Figure in Motion’. Duchamp’s painting combines elements of both the Cubist and Futurist movements. He tries to depict motion by superimposing his images, much like stroboscopic motion photography.
Rokeby’s imitation of Duchamp’s artwork, takes Duchamp’s image a step further by making the nude really able to “move”. The installation also takes Muybridge’s early cinematic achievements a step further by making his installation an interactive experience.

Duchamp: 'Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2’ (1912)     Duchamp: 'The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even' 


This interactive feature coul d also be seen as another homage to Duchamp. Rokeby states that ‘Cheap Imitation’ also incorporates the “feel” of Duchamp’s ‘The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (1915-23, above right).  This is a painting on a transparent glass, which sort of functions as a mirror. It reflects whoever stands in front of it; we are never able to look at it without seeing ourselves. In this way it channels a form of interactivity between the viewer and the artwork. Rokeby’s work functions as an interactive mirror as well.



One might consider Rokeby’s installation as ‘archeological media art’, as defined by Erkki Huhtamo in his article ‘Resurrecting the Technological Past: An Introduction to the Archeology of Media Art’. Huhtamo defines these artworks as time-machines that are: “not automatic or remote-controlled means of mass transportation (like the cinema), but individual ‘hand-driven’ vehicles. The realm they transverse only opens up for the active participant”. [1]  ‘Cheap Imitation’ is such a time-machine; with every move, the participants light up different facets of the artwork, thereby sliding through different facets of time.




More information:

Website of David Rokeby: http://homepage.mac.com/davidrokeby/home.html

Website of ‘Cheap Imitation: http://homepage.mac.com/davidrokeby/cheap.html




[1] Notes: Huhtamo, Erkkhi. ‘Resurrecting the Technological Past: An Introduction to the Archeology of Media Art’ (1995). In: Edward Shanken, red. Art and Electronic Media. London: Phaidon, 2009: p. 199.

The Image Mill: Sustainable Cinema #1

The Image MillScott Hessels’ The Image Mill: Sustainable Cinema combines motion, illumination and duration in an eco-friendly.  In contrast to the late 19th century when cinema was invented and there was little concern for the environment, The Image Mill draws attention to issues of sustainability in an era of environmental crisis.  It reminds us of Eadweard Muybridge’s stop-action photographs of animal motion, the Zoetrope, and other pre-cinematic devices prior to the Lumière Brothers first public projection of their film, The Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat in 1895. The artwork consists of two wheels that spin in opposite directions. A series of animation frames are painted onto glass that is placed on the interior wheel. The cut slits are mounted on the outside wheel and rotates in the opposite direction.  Water falls on the two wheels and a movie appears.

This huge Zoetrope creates an optical illusion of action, as we can see a horse running. Which is one of the first ‘moving’ images that led to the invention of cinema. Hessels explores a possible future of environmentally responsible media- looking forward by looking back. An interesting notion of his artwork is the use of water. It is the water that makes the wheel spin, that gives us the illusion of action. In this era of global warming, climate models etc. where everything is being analyzed for its benefit to the climate, the artist shows us in actually a very simple artwork how natural resources can be used. The horsepower that drove the Michigan industrial age is at a transition to a new age of alternative energy… the pony stumbles but continues on. According to Hessels’ website, the artwork has been made by Michigan metal workers and the artwork proves that the skills of industrial-era tradesmen can be tapped as a valuable resource as the region considers new sustainable directions.

“Life, Nature and matter are a perfect unity,” said Lucio Fontana. (Fontana, 1946) Change is the essential condition of life. The ideas of Fontana, although written in the 40’s relate to Hessels’ artwork. As we are exhausting our natural resources, it is time we take a different approach to these natural resources (although this has been ongoing for a while now, and Hessels’ artwork is not really that much of a revolution). So in order to maintain our standards of life, we need to change. Hence the use of water, one of the most important and precious natural resources, as a natural source of energy to power this artwork.

Lucio Fontana, “The White Manifesto” 1946, in Art and Electronic Media, Edward Shanken, p 195.

See Hessel’s site with extensive documentation of The Image Mill

Camera Lucida

0acameralucid.jpgCreated by Evelina Domnitch and Evelina Domnitch, “Camera Lucida is an interactive “sonic observatory” that directly converts sound waves into light by employing a phenomenon called sonoluminescence. The project was conceived both as an artwork and as a musical instrument that allows its player to see and shape sounds while moving through space….

The Camera Lucida project began as a speculative reverie on observing sound waves with the naked eye. The idea of using a gas that would luminesce when irradiated by sound converted into voltage was very appealing to us. However, as soon as we came upon the phenomenon of sonoluminescence, it became quite clear that we had struck virgin soil. Though imbued with excitement and great potential, this path was riddled with obstacles: most of the physicists, chemists and sound engineers we consulted predicted that our project was destined to fail or that the effects would be barely perceptible to the naked eye….

In order to fully embrace the forces composing sonoluminescence, we decided that the Camera Lucida must be constructed as a finely tunable musical instrument, and this could only be accomplished by introducing several new layers of instability to the sonochemical process. The first layer of instability arises from the modulation of an ultrasonic signal by an audible one. The second layer is a multi-channel, multi-directional resonating chamber (in contrast to the customary single channel, single transducer systems), permitting one to regulate the degrees of chaos (thus introducing an additional dimension of chance).

pl_arts_f.jpgAlthough we may not yet be able to unveil the precise laws governing sonoluminescence, with the help of innovative technologies, one can interact with these laws and perhaps eventually elucidate the unforeseen workings of nature. “Despite all its success, there is still much that goes on in nature that seems more complex and sophisticated than anything technology has ever been able to produce”. Technology and art need not strive to imitate nature, but instead to participate in its multifarious unfolding. Conceived as both a work of art/nature and a scientific research tool, the Camera Lucida project seeks to blur the discrepancy between such definitions of intent.”

Excerpted from Domnitch and Gelfand, “Camera Lucida:  A Three-Dimensional Sonochemical Observatory” Leonardo Vol. 37, No. 5, pp. 391–396, 2004.

Artist’s website http://portablepalace.com includes video of sonoluminescence in Camera Lucida and link to Leonardo article.

Top image of “observatory” dome.[1] Bottom image of sonoluminescent phenomena.[2]

[1] http://www.xymara.com/inmyx/index/inmyx207/ae-200702-index/ae-200702-cameralucida.htm

[2] http://www.wired.com/culture/art/magazine/16-04/pl_arts

Photon Voice

From environmental installation “Photon Voice”, CAVS/M.I.T., NEA Inter-arts Project, “Desert Sun/Desert Moon”, Lone Pine, CA. Filmed by “Smithsonian World” June, 1986. In Collaboration with the Laura Knott Dance Company. Light encoding and transmitting installation /performance designed to encode sound, images, and motion into sunlight. Details of sun tracking sculpture, and receiving stations that decode the sunlight’s “radiation pressure” to construct microscopic sculptural forms from the interaction of photons with electrons in matter.

View of sculpture installation and performance in canyon, transmitting encoded sunlight from background to foreground lenses and into a vacuum particle chamber. * Smithsonian World film crew documenting in background.

Detail of transmitting and receiving apparatus during performance

16 mm film of focused sunlight in pure vacuum chamber, levitating and forming graphite particles into minute kinetic sculptural forms. Sounds, images and movement of dancer encoded in the light determine its shape.

Source: http://www.dxarts.washington.edu/?who=brixey&project=photon

Catso Red

In Catso, Red, the artist has created what appears to be a red cube in the corner of the gallery by projecting a red square of light diagonally across the room. As viewers move closer, they see that the red light actually follows the contours of the walls. Turrell designed Catso, Red in 1967 as part of a series called Cross-Corner Projections, and installed the work at the Mattress Factory in 1994. As you look at the piece, or an experience, you can assemble the piece. As you move on it, you can reassemble it. And the fact is that you can go back in and assemble it again to its original state, and yet, having done that does not steal its magic. It’s very important to me that you see it one way at first, and then it reveals itself as something else. Then you go back again and see it the initial way again.

Spinning Shaft


[img src:http://www.sinalightworks.com/catalog-kinetic/pictures/picture-6.jpg]

“Alejandro and Moira Siña are Light Artists based in Boston. Their use of single electrode Neon and almost invisible wiring enables them to create large ethereal lightworks.”[1]

“Spinning Shaft rotates to create the perception of a cylinder or a virtual image of light. As it turns at a constant speed, a neon without electrodes pulses on and off with varied timing. The rhythm and speed are determined by analogue electronics and programmed patterns that take approximately two minutes to
cycle. […]The work offers the spectator many views; one can see a hollow light cylinder by its side as well as a view of the inside of this generated light tunnel.” [2]

[1] http://www.sinalightworks.com/

[2] Edward A. Shanken, Art and Electronic Media, p. 69

Day Passage



“Day Passage”[1]

“Day Passage” was created by Rockne Kreb  as part of the Art & Technology program at he Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and exhibited at the US Pavilion at EXPO70 in Osaka and at the ‘Art and Technology’ exhibition at LACMA in 1971.  Working in collaboration with Hewlett-Packard corporation, Krebs used argon and HeNe lasers to create a multi-coloured, 3D light sculpture.

It is “a composition of laser beams-red, green, and blue-in a darkened, L-shaped room with mirrors at its head and foot and two mirrors at its bend. The result is that the beams are reflected to infinite depths in an infinity of interlaced and parallel patterns. They shift color and seem also to shift in space.”[2]

[1] img src: screenshot from Edward A. Shanken, Art and Electronic Media, p.68

[2] http://www.hparchive.com/measure_magazine/HP-Measure-1971-06.pdf

Artist’s website: https://www.rocknekrebsart.com/

See also:  See also  http://www.laserfx.com/Backstage.LaserFX.com/Newsletter/BriefHistory.html