Topshot Helmet

‘Topshot Helmet’ is a device to see yourself from above. It is inspired by the so called ‘GTA View’. GTA (Grand Theft Auto) is a videogame in which a virtual camera follows the avatar from a top view. In this gameplay the camera will always stay right above the avatar, giving the player a birds-eye, godlike view (see also the left picture below).

 With the ‘Topshot Helmet’ you are able to experience this view in reality. You basically wear a big, white helmet that covers your head. A big helium balloon is mounted with wires onto the helmet, and always floats right above you. At the bottom of the balloon, a camera is positioned that is connected to the helmet. In this way it is possible to see the world, and yourself from above.

         GTA View           Topshot Helmet view

Wearing the ‘Topshot Helmet’ will give you an out-of-body-experience. Through this helmet your vision will be released from your body, suggesting that you can control yourself from above. This is almost Godlike. In her article: ‘Embodied Virtuality: Or How to Put Bodies Back Into the Picture’, N. Katherine Hayles explains that the dream of transcending the body has always been expressed through certain kinds of spiritualities. But today we have new possibilities: “to achieve this apotheosis one does not need spiritual discipline, only a good robot surgeon”. [1] Or in the case of the ‘Topshot Helmet’: maybe one only needs a camera and a helium balloon.    

This godlike view is, however, very restricted; a view from above doesn’t reach very far. It is only possible to see things that are in your direct surroundings. Whilst wearing the ‘Topshot Helmet’ you have to adapt yourself to a new way of seeing and navigating, which is more restricted than most of us are used to.   

Also, the design isn’t optimal. Because the helmet is tied to a helium balloon, it is difficult to keep your balance. You can’t easily walk around; a gush of wind, or even a low ceiling will destroy your experience.

       Topshot Helmet

When you wear the ‘Topshot Helmet’ you do get a lot of attention. In the video above we see the artist walking around town with his helmet. This almost looks like some kind of performance; bystanders must be wondering how the artist can navigate his way around. What’s more, the artist sort of looks like a cyborg; half man, half machine. The helmet with the helium balloon also resembles the Sputnik, the first Earth-orbiting satellite.

Therefore the artwork doesn’t just give a simulation of a videogame-aesthetic, it also reflects on other kinds of electronic views on the world. Thinking about videogames, video camera’s, and even satellites, we come to realize how much our view of the world is influenced by electronic media and technological inventions. We all live in a hyper real world.


More information:

Website ‘Topshot Helmet’:

Website Artist:



[1] Hayles, N. Katherine. ‘Embodied Virtuality: Or How to Put Bodies Back Into the Picture’ (1996). In: Edward Shanken, red. Art and Electronic Media. London: Phaidon, 2009: p. 261.


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.

2. Ibid.



Life Writer

“Life Writer consist of an old-style type writer that evokes the area of analogue text processing. In addition a normal piece of paper is used as projection screen and the position of the projection is always matched with the position of the type writer roll. When users type text into the keys of the type writer, the resulting letters appear as projected characters on the normal paper. When users then push the carriage return, the letters on screen transform into small black and white artificial life creatures that appear to float on the paper of the type writer itself. The creatures are based on genetic algorithms where text is used as the genetic code that determines the behaviour and movements of the creatures.” [1]

The philosophy behind Life Writer is that of emergent interaction by user interaction: “By connecting the act of typing to the act of creation of life, Life Writer deals with the idea of creating an open-ended artwork where user-creature and creature-creature interaction become essential to the creation of digital life and where an emergent systems of life-like art emerges on the boundaries between analog and digital worlds.” [1]

The interactive virtual life environment is also present in A-Volve (1994-5). Here participants are able to create creatures – in this case fish – more specifically by profiling their virtual fish. The fish evolve by surviving attacks of other fish and procreate passing along their code profile. The creatures in Life Writer reproduce similarly but survive by eating the letters the participant sends into the virtual world, not each other.

In Artificial Life and Interactivity in the Online Project TechnoSphere (1996) Jane Prophet discusses her project TechnoSphere as an application of artificial life as a medium. Here participants are able to create a virtual creature to let it develop itself in the virtual landscape subsequently. “For example, a creature can splice digital DNA with another if they are similar, but only if both creatures are more than 50% full of food, otherwise cybersex is out of the question and the search for food takes priority.” [2].

TechnoSphere is also similar to the approach of Life Writer in the evolution of artificial life: “The notion of self-organising artificial life systems which we have used in TechnoSphere depend on a ‘bottom-up’ approach, with behaviour emerging as artificial creatures interact, rather than us imposing a ‘top down’ control on behaviour.” [2].

The only ‘top-down’ control in Life Writer is death. In the complete document by Jane Prophet, she also states that “Our intention is that users should not be able to interfere with creatures by, for example, killing them” [3]. This is an distinct difference with Life Writer where in Life Writer the participant does have control over both creation and death by striking the typewriter keys and using the scrolling functionality of the typewriter respectively.

[1] Project website:

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

[3] Artist website:


“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:

[1] Project website:

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

Art Ticker

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

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

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

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

[1] Artist short statement:

[2] Project website:

[3] Statement of project:

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

“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:

“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.

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2. Source:

“Tv Garden” by Nam June Paik

Nam June Paik in "TV-Garden"

“In TV Garden (1974), the artist combines a myriad of live plants with dozens of single channel video monitors nestled amongst them. The monitors show a multitude of scenes with discombobulated sounds. The result is a surrealistic collage that creates an unexpected blend of technology and nature, a commingling of disparate elements that jolts the mind.” 1.

“120 television monitors appear like exotic blooms in a luxuriant garden of 600 plants. Nature, technology and art enter into a poetic union. The coloured pictorial treasure trove on the television screens is derived from the film composition Global Groove. In 1973 Paik, assisted by the Japanese designer Shuya Abe, created a synthesiser which could manipulate and transform existing film material. Instead of delivering banal everyday entertainment, the television takes on a creative role and invites the public to enter into the real space of a quasi-natural experience. In this artificial natural setting, technology provides humans with the basis for their own creative contemplation. With the acquisition of one of the three versions of the most famous multi-tv installations by the pioneer of video art, born in Korea in 1932, Paik has come a step closer to realising his wish to create an American, an Asian and a European version.” 2.

“Paik’s first large-scale installation TV-Garden is made up by some thirty television sets lying on the floor among a large number of tropical plants. The furiously edited Global Groove video playing on the screens of the TV sets flickers and flashes through the mesh of green. Ambivalent like most of Paik’s works, this one leaves open the question of whether we are dealing with a symbiosis of nature and technology, or whether the new media are leading us back into the jungle with their disordered mass of rampant images.” 3.

Paik's "TV Garden"The replacement of media into another environment can also be seen in The Influence Machine by Tony Oursler, which project images of heads and knocking hands onto trees, accompanied by sounds, thereby creating a sense of ghostly presence in urban vegetation. Paik and Ousler draw parallels in these works, the first between media and the jungle, the latter between electronic and paranormal comunication.

Like Paik’s TV Garden, his Video Flag has three different versions, respectively X, Y and Z. This collection of works just as TV Garden uses many tv-screens to raise our consciousness on contemporary media, the compulsively flickering screens draw a parallel to our media culture. In much of his art Paik seeks to expres the media and electronics by drawing parallels, for instance between cybernetics and Buddhist philosophy, as in his 1966 writing Cybernated Art. (AEM 198)

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“Dia Exit” by Steven Jouwersma

Dia Exit

 “In Dia Exit, 40,000 slides, that artist Steven Jouwersma collected in exchange for apple pies, are destroyed. In front of the Tschumipaviljoen (Groningen, NL, ed.) is a pole with a red button. If someone pushes this button, a slide is projected. Curiosity for the next slide sends the projected slide into a shredder. 40,000 slides are to be seen again, only once, subsequently they will be turned forever into a pile of grit.” 1. 

This artwork, like D’Agostino’s TransmisionS: In the Well (which is much more critical of technology), creates a consciousness in the viewer that technology is constantly develloping. By shredding the already projected diapositives (slides) it shows that every technological development has a certain lifespan.

In another way Dia Exit resembles Relocating the Remains by Keith Piper, as both works explore the collective past of the audience. They both use the outdated medium of diapositive slides, but more importantly, they both use discarded pictures. These picture, once held dear to their owners and creators, have lost their value and have been replaced by digital versions. Thereby the slides and their content have become disembodied and therefore no longer have any value.

Moreover, the artwork accents humanity’s voyeuristic disposition. Out of curiousity for the next image, one is willing to destroy the image that’s on display. Not only does this show our great interest in the lives of others, but also our destructive craving for the unknown. Part of what makes this art work and create meaning is the interaction with its audience. Like John Cage wrote in A Year From Monday the audience is just as guilty for the crime of art as the artist himself (AEM 215).

1. Source: (transated from Dutch, ed.)


“Transverse Temporal Gyrus” by Animal Collective and Danny Perez

"Tranverse Temporal Gyrus" performance

“Neither live concert nor art exhibit, Transverse Temporal Gyrus is a site-specific sonic installation featuring Baltimore-hailing band Animal Collective and experimental artist Danny Perez as part of the Guggenheim Museum’s 50th anniversary celebration.
Through sound and video projection, the environment of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed building becomes psychedelic, distorted and luminous, all designed to pique the senses. Band members and performers used props and costumes to add to the ambiance of the looping pre-recorded music. “The core elements and colors are worked into the piece in order to unite this room of sound with the inside of your brain,” asserted Animal Collective.” 1.

“This performance piece transformed the museum’s rotunda into a kinetic, psycheVisitirs exploring the space, letting 
themselves immergedelic environment. Transverse Temporal Gyrus featured original recorded music composed specifically for the event along with video projections, costumes, and props, rendering the band members and performers into intense, visual abstractions. During the evening, guests were invited to freely explore the space in order to fully immerse themselves in the environment created by Animal Collective and Danny Perez.” (2.) As in The Weather Project, the audience allowed themselves to be immersed, fully surrendering to the psychedelic environment.

This work shows resemblence to Beatles Electroniques in conjuntion of pop music with art and video. Laurie Anderson’s performances like Mister Heartbreak resemble Tranverse Temporal Gyrus even more, as the actual band or artist joins sonic, visual, and performative elements into a unified, integrated whole. Both Animal Collective and Laurie Anderson succesfully combined art and avant-garde pop music in a way that appealed to a relatively broad audience.

The collaboration between musician and artist bridges the communication gap that exists between art and its potential audience. In Toward a Third Culture: Being in Between, Victoria Vesna argues that artists, natural scientists and literary intellectuals should work together to gain an atmosphere of collaboration and mutual respect that facilitates development (AEM 275). However, the problem of scarcely reaching a broader audience is overlooked in Vesna’s writing. Luckily, Animal Collective and Danny Perez provide us with a solution; experimental electronic visual art and pop musical artists can successfully join forces to significant acclaim in both large concert halls and museums.

Another band that is linked to the New York art-scene is Yeasayer, their video for Ambling Alp shows us where Animal Collective and Danny Perez got some of their inspiration. Yeasayer also performed at the Gugenheim NY.

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“Silicon Remembers Carbon” by David Rokeby

Silicon Remembers Carbon (Version 1)

“The central element in Silicon Remembers Carbon is a large video image projected down onto a bed of sand on the floor of the installation space. Visitors’ movements subtly affect the mixing and dissolving of video images and sounds. Each visitor leaves traces which affect the experience of the work for later visitors. The installation presents a fragile illusion, a consensual hallucination, requiring the visitors’ participation for its continuation, through their body movements, a willingness to blur their eyes slightly to hide the scan-lines, and their ability to project depth into the flat image. They are offered a range of possibilities from sustaining the illusion by creating and maintaining distance, to dispelling it by stepping into the illusionary space itself. For the artist, the visitors’ movement through this range of possibilities represents a more important interaction than the direct interaction with the technical system itself.” 1.

Technical information on how this piece exactly works can be found on David Rokeby’s website. To understand the next text, one should know that movement along the side of the projection causes a second image to be projected.

'Live Virtual Shadow' in Version 2

“The new image usually contains shadows or reflections of people along the edge of the clip that is visible. One tends to interpret those reflections and shadows as the being generated by people actually in the room, either oneselves or others, rather than as being present in the image itself. So this installation is some sort of fake reflecting pool, an inversion of Narcissus’s experience. Whereas Narcissus’s tragedy is that he cannot recognize himself in his reflection, the visitors to the space would find themselves identifying with shadows and distorted reflections that had only circumstantial relation to them. The identification is be momentary, and elusive. My intention is to play along the boundary of identification.” 1.

In the second version, the technology was adapted so that instead of casting their usual shadows, the audience cast shadows of video. At the same time a previously recorded shadow is projected in this image. More info on the second version can also be found at Rokeby’s website.

The interaction with the artwork that is so important to Rokeby reminds of the 1970 piece called Live-Taped Video Corridor by Bruce Nauman. That work plays with its audience and disorients the viewer through the relative placement of videocamera and monitors. Both use a combination of live and pre-recorded video images. Additionally, Silicon Remembers Carbon constitutes an interplay between projected image and audience that can also be experienced in the work of Studio Azzurro, like La Camera Astratta.

In an Oxford Journal review of the Silicon Remembers Carbon exhibition, Rokeby is praised by the author Maryleen Deegan of London’s King’s College for converging digital humanity and art. (2.) In his important essay, “Transforming Mirrors:
Subjectivity and Control in Interactive Media, Rokeby describes interactive art as a medium through which we can communicate with ourselves; in other words, it reflects like a mirror. When this is applied in conjunction with Marshall McLuhan’s ‘The medium is the message’, then the mirror would be the message. Reflection makes us evaluate and affirm ourselves, feel engaged and disembodied at the same time. But above all it raises our consciousness. (AEM 223).

Version 2: The shadow of the person walking by is smearing in a second image, in which a recorded shadow appears.

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UCBM (you could be me)

Viewers experience a “test” of their adaptation to artificial empathy. A speaking female shown as a video projection is the artist’s surrogate in the setup, an intensely self-absorbed persona but funny too. Her script revolves around ironic scientific and theoretical commentary, and she also solicits from viewers as much input and intimacy as she can get. She wants to make a portrait of who viewers are by assessing their willingness to relate, then she gives each interactant a score and a personalized adaptation pattern .

photo: Paul Litherland.

(interactive video installation with motion sensors, touch interface, computer, videodisc, sound; electronics and programming by Jeff Mann)


The Influence Machine


mixed media

Target Art in the Park

October 19 – 31, 2000

Madison Square Park


Tony Oursler’s The Influence Machine, installed at Madison Square Park, captured voices and images of ghosts, both contemporary and historical, creating a séance experience that recalled 19th-century sound and light projections. Oursler experimented with video, smoke machines, a variety of soundtracks, and several sculptural elements to explore the historical and current impact technologies have on our daily lives.

The Influence Machine was comprised of projections of large faces onto smoke and trees with corresponding narratives–poetic texts written by Oursler for this project and other voices from the history of early technology. Images of knocking hands were also projected onto trees and surrounding buildings with corresponding knocking sounds that alluded to Morse code and other early forms of communication. Texts ran over construction fencing and trees pronouncing intimate and encoded messages. In addition to Oursler’s abstract narratives, the soundtrack for The Influence Machine included segments of radio feedback, the unusual sounds of a glass harmonica performed by Dean Shostak, and a score by Tony Conrad commissioned for this project.


tr@nsfer is a reference on Tony Oursler’s work. Forests and trees, as a space of ghosts’ appearance, are becoming a space of virtual characters’ appearance that live on the internet. The female figure relives moments of her online function and interaction with internet users, transferring emotions such as “waiting”, “inquiry”, “duration”.

Another installation of Tony Oursler at Soledad Lorenzo Gallery. Madrid.Spain


Piano as an Image Media

Toshio Iwai :: Piano – As Image Media [1995]

This work combines a real grand piano and computer generated moving images. A player can compose simple melodies visually using a trackball interface to position and place »dots« on a moving grid on the lower projection screen. These dots constitute a virtual score, which triggers the piano keys, which in turn project computer-generated images on the upper screen. In this way the piano itself seems to become transformed into image media – a flow of image depresses the piano’s keys, which as a consequence release yet another flight of images.

Type of Work

Interactive installation


· Concept and realization: Toshio Iwai

· Production: ZKM | Institute for Visual Media


Silicon Graphics Indigo2 Extreme

Commodore Amiga 2000 with Accelerator board 68030 CPU/ Multi serial board/ MIDI interface data projector, video projector

2 semi-transparent projections screens

MIDI grand piano

trackball on plinth


custom software written in C

custom software written in Basic

With the help of a trackball, draw a dotted line on a surface, these points go up to touch the piano keys, which in turn also emit a musical note, a visual effect with the melody line.


Dialtones (A Telesymphony)

Dialtones “is a large-scale concert performance whose sounds are wholly produced through the carefully choreographed ringing of the audience’s own mobile phones. Before the concert, participants register their mobile phone numbers at a series of web terminals; in exchange, new ringtone melodies are automatically transmitted to their phones, and their seating assignment tickets are generated. During the concert, the audience’s phones are dialed up by live performers, using custom software which permits as many as 60 phones to ring simultaneously. Because the exact location and tone of each participant’s mobile phone is known in advance, the Dialtones concert is able to present a diverse range of unprecedented sonic phenomena and musically interesting structures, such as waves of polyphony which cascade across the audience. Dialtones was presented at the Ars Electronica Festival in September 2001, and at the Swiss National Exposition in May and June of 2002.” [1]


Making the Invisible Visible


“Making Visible the Invisible” is a commission for the Seattle Central Library, situated in the Mixing Chamber, a large open 19,500 sq ft space dedicated to information retrieval and public accessible computer research.

“The installation consists of 6 large LCD screens located on a glass wall horizontally behind the librarians’ main information desk. The screens feature real-time calculated animation visualizations generated by custom designed statistical and algorithmic software using data received each hour. This data consists of a list of checked-out items organized in chronological order. The item may be a book, a DVD, a CD, a VHS tape, etc. and from the list we can collect and aggregate titles, checkout time, catalog descriptors such as keywords, Dewey classification code if they are non-fiction items. There are approximately 22000 items circulating per day. Items with Dewey Decimal System labels provide for a way to get a perspective on what subject matters are of current interest at any given time as the Dewey system classifies all items according to 10 major categories:000 Generalities;100 Philosophy & Psychology;200 Religion;300 Social Science;400 Language;500 Natural Science & Mathematics;600 Technology & Applied Sciences;700 Arts;800 Literature;900 Geography & History. These are then subdivided into 100 segments.There are 4 visualizations at this time.”【1】


Passage Sets: One Pulls Pivots at the Tip of the Tongue


First Screen [img src:]

Second Screen [img src:]

Third Screen [img src:]

"This interactive video installation is a poetic reflection on travel, sensuality and identity in cyberspace which Bill Seaman stages through the combination of an interactive poetry program, self-generating poetic texts and an associative image and sound level."[1]

“In this interactive installation, a richly layered stream of poetic text, video and other
images is projected onto three screens, accompanied by music and spoken word. The
sequence and overlapping of these elements is variable and incorporates what the artist
terms ‘recombinant poetics’. Users can activate and modulate the visual, sonic and
textual elements via lists and menus, generating multimedia collages.”[2]


[2] Edward A. Shanken, Art and Electronic Media, p.113

Piano as an Image Media

Piano as an Image Media[1]

“This work combines a real grand piano and computer generated moving images. A
player can compose simple melodies visually using a trackball interface to position and place »dots« on a moving grid on the lower projection screen. These dots constitute a virtual score, which triggers the piano keys, which in turn project computer-generated images on the upper screen. In this way the piano itself seems to become transformed into image media – a flow of image depresses the piano’s keys, which as a consequence release yet another flight of images.”[2]




“Aeriology could be described in terms of a project for an unfolding of the ethereal. Twenty kilometers of copper wire wrap the Reg Vardy Gallery to form an energy gatherer, one where form in the nature of a coil expands the possibilities for an art concerned with lines, flows and folds. These harmonising coils reveal unseen activity through sympathetic amplification.” [1]

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“Made from over twenty kilometres of copper wire that has been wrapped around the gallery’s architecture, Aeriology transforms the space into a beautiful walk-in radio antenna. Through sympathetic amplification the harmonising coils of this installation reveal otherwise unheard activity turning the ethereal into audio.”[2]



Rehearsal of Memory

reharsal of memory

“The aim of this piece was to work with a group of people from Ashworth a high Security Mental Hospital to produce an interactive programme embodying the life experience of those involved. This is manifested in the form of an anonymous computer personality made up of the collective experience of the group. Ashworth Hospital is located in the north of
England near Liverpool and is home and prison to people who are a danger to themselves or to people outside the hospital” [1]

Description by Julian Stallabrass

[1] .

Aspen Movie Map

“The Aspen Movie Map was a revolutionary multimedia system developed at MIT by Andrew Lippman in 1978. The Aspen Movie Map allowed the user to take a virtual tour through the city of Aspen, Colorado. This was accomplished with the use of four video cameras, which were pointed in different directions and took video footage while mounted on the back of a truck through the streets of Aspen. Once the footage was recorded, the pictures were linked together and allow the user to choose one of several predefined paths in which to tour the city.” [1]


Imaginary Landscape No. 4

Imaginary Landscape No. 4 is a musical composition created by John Cage in 1951.  The video is from a Dec 5, 2008 performance by students of Profs. Joachim Pissarro and Geoffrey Burleson at Hunter College, New York.  Burleson introduces the work, with the performance beginning at approximately 2:00 into the video.

“Two performers are stationed at each radio, one for dialling the radio-stations, the second performer controlling amplitude and timbre. Durations are written in conventional notation, using notes, placed on a five-line staff. The rhythmic structure of the work is 2-1-3 and is expressed in changing tempi. Cage uses proportional notation where ½ inch equals a quarter note. The notation is not entirely proportional though, since accelerandos and ritardandos are still present in the score. The score gives notations for tuning (controlled by player 1) as well as volume and tone color (controlled by the second player).”[1]

When one listens to the work, it is obvious that one cannot predict what will be heard, which is exactly what Cage was aiming at with this composition. Apart from that it was a way of abandoning his preferences and dislikes (Cage wasn’t very fond of radios). As he put it himself in For the Birds: “I had a goal, that of erasing all will and the very idea of success.”[1]

imaginarylandscape.jpg“The method of composing is basically the same as used in Music of Changes. Cage used the I-Ching [an ancient Chinese book of wisdom also known as the Book of Changes] to create charts which refer to superimpositions, tempi, durations, sounds and dynamics. In the sound charts 32 out of 64 fields are silences. In the charts for dynamics, only sixteen produce changes, while the other maintain the previous situation. Similar charts were produced for the the other parameters.”[1]

In his essay, “To Describe the Process of Composition Used in Music of Changes and Imaginary Landscape No.4” (1952) published in his seminal book, Silence (1961, p 57-59), Cage argued that, “It is thus possible to make a musical composition the continuity of which is free of individual taste and memory (psychology) and also of the literature and ‘traditions’ of the art.” He continued, “The sounds enter the time-space centered within themselves, unimpeded by the service to any abstraction, their 360 degrees of cricumference free for an infinite play of interpenetration. Value judgments are not in the nature of this work as regards either composition, performance, or listening. The idea of relation being absent, anything may happen. A ‘mistake’ is beside the point,, for once anything happens it authentically is.”

[1] Galen Joseph-Hunter, “Transmission Works: Selections Towards Identifying a History” 2007.

The Fantasy Beyond Control

[…], the first interactive art video disk was completed. Unlike Roberta, whose adventures took place directly in the environment, Lorna was a middle-aged agoraphobic, fearful of leaving her tiny apartment. The premise was that the more she stayed home and watched television, the more fearful she became—primarily because she was absorbing the frightening messages of advertising and news broadcasts. Because she never left home, the objects in her room took on a magnificent proportion, they were to her what Mount St. Victoire was to Cezanne. In the disk, every object in her room is numbered and becomes a chapter in her life that opens into branching sequences. Viewer/participants access information about her past, future, and personal conflicts via these artifacts. Many images on the screen are of the remotecontrol device Lorna uses to change television channels. Because viewer/participants use a nearly identical unit to direct the disk action, a metaphoric link or point of identification is established between the viewer and referent. […]

Lynn Hershman, Roberta’s Body Language Chart, 1978.

Lorna literally is captured by a mediated landscape. Her passivity (presumably caused by being controlled by media)is a counterpoint to the direct action of the player. As the branching path is deconstructed, the player becomes aware of the subtle yet powerful effects of fear caused by media and becomes more empowered (active) through this perception. Playing Lorna was designed to have viewer/participants transgress into an inverse labyrinth of themselves […]

Lynn Hershman, Constructing Roberta Breitmore, 1975.

Illuminating Video: An Essential Guide to Video Art. 267–273. New York: Aperture/BAVC, 1990.

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Opto-Isolator (2007: Golan Levin with Greg Baltus) inverts the condition of spectatorship by exploring the questions: “What if artworks could know how we were looking at them? And, given this knowledge, how might they respond to us?” The sculpture presents a solitary mechatronic blinking eye, at human scale, which responds to the gaze of visitors with a variety of psychosocial eye-contact behaviors that are at once familiar and unnerving. Among other forms of feedback, Opto-Isolator looks its viewer directly in the eye; appears to intently study its viewer’s face; looks away coyly if it is stared at for too long; and blinks precisely one second after its visitor blinks.

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Video Quartet

“This work is a four screen projection of found Hollywood film clips transferred to colour video and audio track. The duration of the
installation is 14 minutes long.” [1]

“Video Quartet is composed of hundreds of clips culled from Hollywood movies then and now (mostly then), edited together with Final Cut Pro software, and presented in real time on four side-by-side video screens. Marclay has carefully selected the clips, either retaining their original music or inserting some type of found sound, and created a mesmerizing audio-visual collage, a visible avant-noise epic. Considering that Video Quartet is created from wildly varying samples flickering across four screens, the consistency of mood, tone, and form Marclay manages to maintain is something of a minor miracle. On the screens: tentative taps on a piano; cockroaches falling onto a dusty piano; another piano playing by itself; a gong being struck; a car peeling out; metalheads rocking out; Hendrix jamming; Michael J.” [2]

video quartet [3]




Listening Post


"Listening Post is an art installation that culls text fragments in real time from thousands of unrestricted Internet chat rooms, bulletin boards and other public forums. The texts are read (or sung) by a voice synthesizer, and simultaneously displayed across a suspended grid of more than two hundred small electronic screens.

Listening Post cycles through a series of six movements, each a different arrangement of visual, aural, and musical elements, each with it’s own data processing logic.

Dissociating the communication from its conventional on-screen presence, Listening Post is a visual and sonic response to the content, magnitude, and immediacy of virtual communication."[2]


Wipe Cycle

gillette schneider wipe cycle 1969Gillette and Schneider’s Wipe Cycle confused, intrigued and excited viewers who were surprised to find themselves on television screens where commercial programming or taped images of other people had appeared just prior to their own. By screening live and recorded, commercial and non-commercial images on a bank of nine video monitors, the piece was able to introduce uncertainty into a medium that was known for its direct address and, in early surveillance uses, mirror-like properties. The time-delays, live and recorded elements of the piece were occasionally ‘wiped’ to make the information overload that the viewer was experiencing more distinct. By incorporating and inculcating viewers in the medium of television and surveillance, Wipe Cycle is able to resituate their relation to commercial television and surveillance cameras more specifically, and mass culture more generally. What was before seen a heavily centralized, top-down mass medium here becomes one that is participatory and complex. Wipe Cycle resets viewer expectations of the medium of television and encourages critique of a formerly unassailable form.[1]

“In the exhibition «TV as a Creative Medium,» [at the Howard Wise Gallery, New York, 1969] the installation was constructed before the elevator. So each visitor was immediately confronted with his or her own image. But the monitors also showed two video tapes and a television program. The installation, which made visitors a part of the information, was rigged in a highly complicated fashion: in four cycles, images wandered from one monitor to the other delayed by eight or sixteen seconds, while counter-clockwise a gray light impulse wiped out all the images every two seconds.”[2]

In a 1969 interview with Jud Yalkut, Gillette and Schneider describe Wipe Cycle as “a television mural designed to engage and integrate the viewer’s television ‘image’ at three separate points in time and five exchanging points in space.” Gillette further pointed out that “it was an attempt to demonstrate that you’re as much a piece of information as tomorrow morning’s headlines” and that “the satellite which is you is incorporated into the thing which is being sent back to the satellite. In other words, rearranging one’s experience of information reception.” In their metacritical investigation of how technology had the ability to ‘rearrange one’s experience of information’, Gillette and Schneider deployed very same the technology they were critiquing in order to provide insights into the relationship between humans and electronic media.[3]


[1] Edward A. Shanken, Art and Electronic Media, 2009, p 100.

[2]  Source: Video-Skulptur retrospektiv und aktuell 1963–1989, Wulf Herzogenrath, Edith Decker (eds.), Cologne, 1989, p. 114.

[3] Judd Yalkut, interview with Frank Gillette and Ira Schneider, East Village Other, 1969.

He Weeps for You

He weeps for you [1]

“One of the first video installations by Bill Viola, closely related to his videotape productions of the 1970s. A drop of water emerging from a small brass valve is magnified by a video camera and projected on a large screen. The close-up image reveals that the viewer and part of the room where they stand are visible inside each forming drop. The drop swells and shudders as it reaches surface tension, finally falling and creating a loud resonant sound as it lands on an amplified drum below. A new drop immediately begins forming and the cycle continues in infinite repetition.” [2]

“He Weeps for You” (1976)…installation at the hamburger banhof in berlin 2007



Science Experiments Series: Goldfish

The Neistat Brothers (Casey and Van) are a self-taught, filmmaking duo from New York, renowned for their lo-fi, DIY films. Whether playful appropriations of Hollywood films or bizarre homemade science experiments, the Neistat Brothers’ films convey a subversive critique of consumerist culture.[1]

[1] See “Neistat Brothers Collector,” Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts, 2007.  Download Neistat_Roomsheet.pdf

Traffic Sign

Traffic Sign (blockbrush)

Fred Vetzenhauer’s work “Traffic Sign”, painted in 1974, is one of his most prominent paintings. It was created within the late period of the Vietnam War. A few critics which were familiar with his rather small body of work acclaimed “Traffic Sign” as a direct critique on the use of biochemical weapons during the war, such as Napalm and Agent Orange. Rumors are that the numbers of red and green blocks represented the exact relation between hazarded and remaining land. The colors of his painting “Traffic Sign” where enriched with a luminous paint containing radium.

Traffic Sign (blockbrush)

His most famous piece at the Royal Collage of Illumination Exhibition Hall in 1981.

Vectorial Elevation: Relational Architecture 4

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s Vectorial Elevation is “an interactive art project originally designed to celebrate the arrival of the year 2000 in Mexico City’s Zócalo Square. The website enabled any Internet user to design light sculptures over the city’s historic centre, with eighteen searchlights positioned around the square. These searchlights, whose powerful beams could be seen within a 15 kilometers radius, were controlled by an online 3D simulation program and visualised by digital cameras. A personalised webpage was produced for every participant with images of their design and information such as their name, dedication, place of access and comments. These web pages were completely uncensored, allowing participants to leave a wide variety of messages, including love poems, football scores, Zapatista slogans and twenty-seven marriage proposals. In Mexico, the project attracted 800,000 participants from 89 countries over the course of its two-week duration.”[1]

The artist notes that “Vectorial Elevation alludes to Sol LeWitt’s “art of instructions” as well as László Moholy-Nagy’s paintings by telephone in 1922. Another precedent was the teleoperation of the Lindbergh searchlight in Los Angeles in 1928, activated when President Coolidge pressed a telegraph key at his desk at the White House.” [2]

The following video includes extensive documentation of the project’s concept, technical aspects, including web-based interface and robotic spotlights, and installation, narrated by Lozano-Hemmer.

The artist’s website offers even more documentation of the work in various sites, including videos from Lyon and time-lapse images from Vancouver

[1,2] Text, image and video from:

The Other

The Other is an interactive audio installation incorporating temporary an reconfigured architecture, audio only resonance and interaction measurement with heartbeat sensors.


The visitor enters the project space and is requested by an assistant to apply the heartbeat sensor to his chest. Then he is lead to a separee and finds himself in this dark, small place in front of a door – alone. Suddenly moans, knocks and laments from a person can be heard from the room behind the door. The voices inside call for help. The intensity of his knocks and laments increase, he screams. Whatever the visitor tries to do – there is no answer and the door is locked. At this point the assistant comes back and explains what just happened to him.

The Other is an installation which basically measures the heartbeat and plays back short sounds from a sample bank which are in accordance with his rate of heartbeats. The higher the heartbeat gets, the more intense the screams and knocks from inside will be. Behind the door there is nothing else than an actuator applied on the door to create the knocks and a speaker, responsible for the voice. Both are connected to a computer running a MaxMSP patch which fetches the heartbeats and creates the “answers” in form of the audio resonance.

We exhibited this installation at the Hochschultage at the University of the Arts in Bremen in February as a preview for the project “The Tell Tale Heart” (T3H). A few dozens of visitors “enjoyed” the experience. Although for most people it was obvious that it was set up (depending on the introduction by the assistent, a lot of improvisation here created some interesting reactions), most had a stressful moment in the separee. Most tried to open the closed door, some even thought that there was an actual person inside, trying to communicate. Some were confused, trying to look for help from the assistents. Others were completely repelled, stating that they don’t want to experience it. But in the end for most it was an interesting experience.




The Other view

Blinkenlights (Reloaded)

The author of this entry’s own video from 2005 when the Blinkenlights installation was revamped for a city lights festival:

Observation of the Observation: Uncertainty

Observation of the Observation [1]


This video shows a video art work created by Peter Weibel. By this art video anyone can observe self-perception from a third-person perspective. There are three video monitors and cameras are arranged in a circle way so that anyone can observe himself from the behind and they are able to interface with the piece, and position of their bodies.

“The cameras and monitors are juxtaposed in such a way that the viewers are unable to see themselves from the front, no matter how much they twist and turn. The self-observers see different parts of their bodies, but never their faces. Shut inside a room, every point in the room is the observer’s jailer, perspective of their deathly fate.” [2]



interface [1]


interface 1972 [2]

“Interface (1972) was Peter Campus’s second closed-circuit installation. It was presented for the first time in Europe at the Cologne Kunstverein in 1979.

The main element of Interface is a pane of glass in the form of a screen, which is placed towards the back of a dimly-lit room. The video camera is set up behind the glass and directed towards it. Facing it on the other side of the glass is a video projector connected to the camera (creating a closed circuit which instantly transmits what the camera records). The camera and projector are placed on a diagonal. The visitors, who make up an essential component of the work, are invited to walk through the space in front of the glass, which thus serves a double function: it reflects the viewers’ image like a mirror but also serves as a screen, permitting them to watch the image recorded by the camera. By means of the glass, the visitors entering the environment of Interface are thus simultaneously confronted by two images of themselves, one of which is ‘positive’—the video image—and the other ‘negative’—their reflection in the glass. While the glass reflects an image in colour with well-defined contours, the indirect, ‘ghostly’ recorded image in black and white seems more fragile, as if it were floating in space. As they move back and forth in front of the glass, visitors are led to determine the exact position where the two images overlap and it is from this point that they can actually see the splitting of their image.” [3]




Three Transitons

interface 1972 [1]

Peter Campus is one of the important video artist in the field of art video . To create the video, he used  interface installation (1972) a dark room, a video capturing camera and glass. The video camera capture the environment from one side of a piece of transparent glass as a result two types of image are created one is mirror image which is reflected on the glass and other is reverse image. By applying this approach its possible to create different type of video art.

For example, one of his video art is ´Three Transitions´ which is shown in the following video