#11 The International Digital Art Magazine Artists - Festivals - Innovation and more
NERI OXMAN ANTONIN FOURNEAU TELEPRESENCE & DIGITAL ART HACKER FOR AN OPEN CULTURE CHRISTINE SCHÖPF ARS ELECTRONICA ZERO1 SCOPITONE
d i g i t a l a r t i # 11
LIGHT, MOVEMENT, EMOTION…
October-November-December 2012 - 6 € / 8 $ US
SWARM @ Victoria & Albert Museum, rAndom International, 2010. © Courtesy Carpenters Workshop Gallery, R.R.
FEATURES 03 EDITORIAL 04 NEWS info, blogs and links / digitalarti.com
06 IN SITU news from New York
07 CHRONICLES Marshall McLuhan, Edmond Couchot, Jean-Yves Leloup…
08 ANTONIN FOURNEAU Water Light Graffiti…
10 NERI OXMAN storytelling and high-end research in 3D printing
12 RANDOM INTERNATIONAL light, movement, emotion…
16 NETWORKED SOCIETIES new frontiers in time and culture
20 UBIQUITOUS Lucifuge: telepresence and digital art
22 HACKERS FOR AN OPEN CULTURE will they save the world?
OUR SURREAL WORLD DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY ERUPTS INTO REALITY In his lecture at the ZERO1 Biennial in San Jose, Bruce Sterling perfectly described our immersion in a digital environment. From 3D printing to augmented reality, we live amidst new esthetics without even taking the time to question them. Reality and virtuality have become hybrids, opening a surrealistic perspective, a “hyperreal” panorama of the world. Telepresence, the central feature of this issue, is no longer science-fiction. We have evolved from Jet-lag to Net-lag. All telepresence activity is composed of several parallel time-spaces that we are attempting to synchronize. Connecting several “heres” at the speed of light implies that we also find ourselves with several “nows”. This gap is measured in time zones, not kilometers. The artists who are connected in this real time are inventing new modes of creation, participative and collaborative, which lead viewers to unexpected encounters, as in Maurice Benayoun’s latest televirtual installation, Tunnels Around the World. This issue also features the works of rAndom International, Neri Oxma, the Water Light Graffiti of Antonin Fourneau, currently in residence in our artlab, reports on ZERO1 in the United States, Ars Electronica in Austria, Scopitone in France, and an opinion piece by Louis Montagne who states that perhaps, hackers will save the world, and open culture will be their weapon.
Under the Magazine section of the Digitalarti website, you’ll find the latest news, as well as the archive of our previous issues. Don’t hesitate to send us your comments and feedback, or to start your own blog on our community platform, as we publish a selection of online articles in each magazine. Happy reading and/or writing…
24 CHRISTINE SCHÖPF interview
26 ARS ELECTRONICA seeking Silicon Valley
30 SCOPITONE 2012 digital Nantes
32 AGENDA exhibitions, festivals…
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DIGITALARTI.COM Find all of this information, blogs, links and other news on our site rAndom International
The digital art channel
Carpenters Workshop Gallery organizes a big restrospective on random International artworks. This collective, founded by Stuart Wood, Florian Ortkrass and Hannes Koch, explores behaviour and interaction, often using light and movement. Learn more about them on the central article of this edition.
< http://www.digitalarti.com/video/random_international >
ZERO1 Working with some of the most fertile and creative minds from the worlds of art, science, design, architecture, and technology, ZERO1 produces the ZERO1 Biennial, an international showcase of work at the nexus of art and technology and the ZERO1 Garage where principles of artistic creativity are applied to real world innovation challenges. The ZERO1 Biennial, distributed throughout Silicon Valley and the greater Bay Area, is North Americaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s most significant and comprehensive showcase of work at the nexus of art and technology. Through curated exhibitions, public art installations, performances, and speaker events, the ZERO1 Biennial presents work by a global community of innovative artists who are reshaping contemporary culture. Established in 2006, the ZERO1 Biennial has presented the work of more than 500 artists from more than 50 countries; commissioned 80 original works of art, attracted over 100,000 visitors from around the world, and contributed $20 million in economic revenue to the region.
< http://www.digitalarti.com/blog/ZERO1 >
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KINETICA ART FAIR Kinetica aims to actively encourage the convergence of art and technology, providing an alternative platform to static traditional forms of art such as painting and sculpture. The museum champions artistic innovation of all kinds and showcases work which explores the interwoven complexities between scientific developments and the human condition. Now in it's fifth year, Kinetica Art Fair is the only Art Fair in the UK to provide collectors, curators and the public with a unique opportunity to view and purchase artworks from leading international galleries, artists, collectives, curatorial groups and organisations specialising in kinetic, electronic and new media art. < http://www.digitalarti.com/blog/keith1330 >
AKOUSMA AKOUSMA is the electroacoustic music festival produced each year, in October, by Reseaux in Montreal. Since 1991, Reseaux has been working to highlight electroacoustic music at an international level. This year, the festival will occur from October 24 to 27 at Usine C, Montreal.
< http://www.digitalarti.com/blog/akousma >
The 4th Update biennial proposes an exhibition radically different from the 3 previous editions: for the first time, it is taking place in 2 cities (Ghent and Brussels) and at 3 venues (Zebrastraat, iMAL and La Cambre) and it is exclusively focused on the 20 nominees of the New Technological Art Award 2012 in order to emphasize the actual dynamic of contemporary art creation in our technological world.
< www.digitalarti.com/en/m11_1 >
Kinetica Art Fair 2013 Applications are now being accepted for KINETICA ART FAIR 2013. Kinetica Art Fair is the only Art Fair in the UK to provide collectors, curators and the public with a unique opportunity to view and purchase artworks from leading international galleries, artists, collectives, curatorial groups and organisations specialising in kinetic, electronic and new media art.
< www.digitalarti.com/en/m11_2 >
Cyposium - an online symposium on cyberformance The CyPosium invites cyberformance artists, researchers and interested participants to share and discuss past online performances: “What different kind of events happened? What did they make possible? What was special about the event? Why were things done in a certain way and what were the results?”
DUNE is a public interactive landscape that interacts with human behavior. This hybrid of nature and technology is composed of large amounts of fibers that brighten according to the sounds and motion of passing visitors.
< www.digitalarti.com/en/m11_5 >
Tactile Sensations Tactile Sensations is a dance performance questioning both touch and vision set in an interactive musical and luminous environment where the augmented bodies of two dancers meet. Its light format makes it easy for the performance to be presented in non-conventional spaces - indoors or outdoors.
< www.digitalarti.com/en/m11_6 >
The International Artist Residencies in Budapest are open to submissions from the end of 2012 to the beginning of 2013.
< www.digitalarti.com/en/m11_4 >
< www.digitalarti.com/en/m11_8 >
Gamerz Festival Devoted to game and entertainment in contemporary creation, GAMERZ yearly gathers French and international artists, researchers and professionals in Aix-enProvence, so as to provide the public with a recreational and cultural journey.
< www.digitalarti.com/en/m11_9 >
Announcing (e)MERGE- The 2012 ZERO1 Biennial Street Festival Mark your calendars for (e)MERGE, a street festival specifically focused on showcasing work by emerging artists!
< www.digitalarti.com/en/m11_10 >
The New Mappings Mapping is nothing new in digital arts, even if this part of digital creation is only a few years old.
< www.digitalarti.com/en/m11_7 >
Water Light Graffiti by Antonin Fourneau, created in the Digitalarti Artlab For a few weeks, Antonin Fourneau has been working in residence at the Digitalarti Artlab on the Water Light Graffiti project: a wall made of LEDs which light up when touched by water.
< www.digitalarti.com/en/m11_7 >
< www.digitalarti.com/en/m11_3 >
International Artist Residencies, Budapest, from Dec.12 to Jan.13
creative ideas successfully to market, through concept development, business matching, and direct access to world-class networks of creative professionals.
Festivals, Art Centers X Media Lab festival
Innovation Sound, flesh, openness, and biotech in Europe, US, and Brazil This 6-monthly mailout includes a selection of what happened recently and what is coming up in the next months.
< www.digitalarti.com/en/m11_11 >
CONNECTED CITY, a daily adventure Where are you…? The city is not just an economic network based on division of labor—it is a network of emotional connections, a perpetual source of crossed lives, tragedies, love stories, intimate and public moments.
< www.digitalarti.com/en/m11_12 >
X Media Lab, taking place in Basel in September, creates a meeting place to assist companies and people in getting their own
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IN SITU NEW YORK
NEWS FROM NEW YORK
MECHANICAL GHOSTS © PHOTO CHERISE FONG
From the first vocal synthesizer to kinetic art and new audio, visual and biometric technologies, two exhibitions expose the relationships (and interfaces) that persist between machines and human perception.
Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Voice Array. Courtesy: Bitforms
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It’s rare to see in a little museum on the Bowery known primarily for its temporary exhibitions of avant-garde, experimental and alternative art by living artists, an authentic antiquity of contemporary life. And yet, the New Museum’s thematic and largely historical exhibition Ghosts in the Machine invites us to contemplate the first patented vocal synthesizer, which was presented at the World Fair in New York in 1939. With the assistance of a trained operator, this pioneering machine was capable of producing intelligible phonemes. Indeed, its “vocoder” (voice encoder) technology, developed by Homer Dudley for Bell Labs, unveiled to the public for the very first time a completely disembodied voice. If one New York journalist initially described the invention with giant speakers as the “terrifying metal man”, it also engendered a budding esthetic sensibility for the synthesized voice. (We would hear it three decades later in the film A Clockwork Orange, but it wasn’t until Kraftwerk that artistic voice synthesis went internationally mainstream.)
Each exhibition piece is contextualized within the development of other seminal artworks under the influence of new media. On beyond phonics and into mechanics and optics, we find the kinetic sculptures of Jean Tinguely and an entire floor dedicated to 1960s op-art, with its calculated geometries creating the rather disorienting illusion of movement or (infinite) depth. But the op-art pièce de résistance is no doubt Robert Breer’s Floats, which premiered at the World Fair in Osaka in 1970: two smooth, white cylinders, standing on the floor like two halves of a giant capsule. At first sight, they appear to be modern sculptures, immobile, abstract and conceptual. But upon closer observation over time, we notice that each piece moves independently and randomly, almost imperceptibly. The troubling truth is that these “floating” cylinders, perpetually adrift, are absolutely unpredictable. Such is the trend of these new artworks that tease our perception, whose conception has evolved from empirical to digital. More recently, it’s the juxtaposition of media, combined with the confusion of styles, that disorients and intrigues. Among the New Museum’s selection of trompe l’oeil experiments, two in particular literally jump off the screen. Seth Price’s Untitled Film Right (2006) consists of a silent six-minute corporate video loop of ocean waves in slow-motion close-up, which the artist colorized and converted into 16 millimeter film. The result, reminiscent of vintage experimental film where the source material is almost unrecognizable, is projected onto a transparent screen suspended in a narrow corridor in a corner of the gallery, to the hypnotic, buzzing soundtrack of the antique film projector. In an annex exhibition on the ground floor dedicated to holograms made by artists, Ed Ruscha’s The End
(1998) recreates in dynamic depth the granulated texture of film “rolling” according to the angle of view, alternating the words “the” and “end”. On the other side of Manhattan, in the Bitforms gallery in Chelsea, Mexican artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s exhibition somberly echoes the New Museum’s mechanical ghosts. His Voice Array presents itself like a carnival game disguised as a mural artwork for a techno-cosmopolitan salon. Like an audio-visual update of the vocoder with autonomous encoding, this formidable machine with the intercom interface reproduces, translates into light signals and remixes into a cloud of sound the voice of each person who dares to confide his or her vocal improvisations, intelligible or not. But the artist’s most troubling, if not most moving, work resides in the adjoining entrance of the gallery. Titled Last Breath, it’s a biometric portrait of the Cuban singer Omara Portuondo. The robotic installation is designed to measure, record and indefinitely circulate the individual respiration of a human being, between the mechanical bellows and a brown paper bag. The robot “breathes” 10,000 times a day, representing the typical frequency of an adult at rest, and “sighs” 158 times in the same period, wherein the physical rustlings effectively simulate the rhythmic cycle of human respiration. But will this external pacemaker for a paper lung only truly come to life once its living model has expired its titular last breath? CHERISE FONG
FURTHER INFORMATION: Ghosts in the Machine, 2012.07.18-2012.09.30 New Museum < www.newmuseum.org > Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, 2012.09.06-2012.10.13 Bitforms < www.bitforms.com >
NEURO-ESTHETICS What if “everything” boiled down to chemistry? The kind that agitates our neurons into synapses that induce and translate our perception, apprehension, cognition… In his rather arduous book, Edmond Couchot takes a “global” approach to art by measuring it up to the “cognitive” sciences. But this scientific approach could also be considered “collaborative”, as his field of research covers linguistics, computer science, psychology and neurosciences (which are themselves interdisciplinary). Theorist, artist, former professor-researcher (director of the Arts & Image Technologies department at Paris 8 University), Couchot synthesizes a number of questions posed by cognitive sciences over the past 50 years, how they help to understand “Beauty” and various artistic practices.
HYBRID PRACTICES AND VIRAL DEVELOPMENT Much has been written about techno, electronic music and its many derived forms—passionately, seriously, not to mention maliciously… But that was then. These days, the air has cleared. Techno-culture has gone mainstream. Now is the age of electro-consensus. Following in the encyclopedic footsteps of “multimedia” art, literature and digital animation—in Les Basiques series of online editions directed by Annick Bureaud for the Observatoire Leonardo des Arts et des Technosciences (OLATS)—electronic music is the latest theme to be dissected and cross-examined, this time by Jean-Yves Leloup, whose long-standing passion for the subject is well known. As a journalist, he is also the author of Global Techno (collective work) and Digital Magma. As a professor of “sound staging” at ISTS (Institut Supérieur des Techniques du Son) and music journalism at Paris III (Sorbonne Nouvelle), Leloup also presents himself as a sound sculptor and DJ within the duo RadioMentale (with Éric Pajot), which is known in the fields of cine-mix and sound-design.
THE MECHANICAL BRIDE Marshall McLuhan’s media, hot or cold, had nothing to do with “our” media, new and digital… Yet we still have much to learn from this theorist who “prophetized” the concept of the global village while affirming: The medium is the message… We are still measuring the relevance of his words, even in their original context (the fledgling fifties, budding consumer society, etc), as we read this book published by è®e with the support of Espace multimédia Gantner, titled La Mariée Mécanique (The Mechanical Bride). As unbelievable as it may seem, these texts had never been translated into French. This is now done, in the form of an “art book” enriched with about 60 illustrations, instead of the simpler format of gray essay pages. The texts are more literary, less academic than his landmark
From brain biology to cybernetics, from esthetic tendencies to felt emotions, from mechanics of artistic creation to phenomena linked to brain alterations (special dedication to Oliver Sacks…), from the conceptualization of the personal experience to the concept of temporal resonance, from formal language variants to the wire-haired fox terrier (see page 253)… By “objectifying” that which is artistic and esthetic, by filtering it through formal and natural sciences in an attempt to capture and explain the inexplicable, Couchot sketches out a human geography which, much like an artistic process, is called upon to re-evaluate itself in the wake of the digital mutation that we are currently experiencing.
Edmond Couchot, La Nature de l'Art : ce que les sciences cognitives nous révèlent sur le plaisir esthétique (Hermann Éditeurs, 2012). < www.editions-hermann.fr > Structured like the others in the series around 10 key questions—What were the first musical experiments with technology? What is the practice and history of DJs? What are the current esthetic trends in electronic music?—his analysis details a reality that touches on one nature and multiple pratices. From “erudite” music to the first new wave synthesizers, from kosmische musik to dub, from house to hardcore, from ambient to drum-n-bass… Besides these trends, what’s interesting about this patchwork is how it reveals, piece by piece, the various articulations of this globalized and interconnected puzzle: the hybrid practices and viral development of new composition and broadcasting techniques; the shaping of new listening conditions and festival approaches (clubbing, teknivals, etc); the evolution of a new topological soundscape, reinforced by its visual ramifications; and finally, a whole esthetic that extends far beyond music to answer another fundamental question: How has the way we use electronic media transformed late 20th century music and culture?
Les Basiques: la musique électronique, by Jean-Yves Leloup (Olats, 2012) < www.olats.org/livresetudes/basiques/musiqueelectronique/basiquesME.php >
studies (Understanding Media, The Gutenberg Galaxy…), a bit like Wilhelm Reich’s Listen, Little Man! Indeed, McLuhan seems to be sounding the alarm rather than exposing a reasoned thesis in this “entertaining” book, invoking Edgar Allen Poe and his “descent into the maelstrom”, denouncing the press, radio, cinema, advertising and their potential risks of manipulation, exploitation and mind-control… As an antidote, he invites rational detachment, (a)wakening of the mind, knowing that the time for anger and protest has not yet come, we are only at the beginning of this new process… The future resounds with destructive threats and new developments, against which moral indignation offers very little support… What to think, or rather, what would McLuhan have thought of reality TV, false friends on social networks, real-time chat, virtual worlds and viral ads…
Marshall McLuhan, La Mariée Mécanique : folklore de l'homme industriel (éditions è®e, in partnership with Espace multimédia Gantner, 2012). < www.editions-ere.net > digitalarti #11 - 07
DIGITAL ART ANTONIN FOURNEAU
WATER LIGHT GRAFFITI © PHOTO QUENTIN CHEVRIER
"Water Light Graffiti" tosses the classic antagonism between water and electricity. How did you get the idea for this water-activated LED wall?
Water Light Graffiti @ Poitiers.
Water has never gotten along well with fire, or with its cousin, the electric fairy… However, ANTONIN FOURNEAU plays alchemist by reconciling these two elements in "Water Light Graffiti", a wall of LEDs that draw animated forms, words and figures, activated by a misting spray or water gun, which replace the tagger’s can of spray paint.
FURTHER INFORMATION: < http://atocorp.free.fr >
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Conceived in Digitalarti’s Artlab under the responsibility of Jason Cook, Antonin Fourneau was able to present and test the project on-site in Poitiers last summer. The work is quite faithful to his artistic approach, which combines fun and technology. A graduate of ENSAD (École nationale supérieure des Arts Décoratifs), where he now teaches, Antonin Fourneau is particularly interested in funfairs and video games, from which he borrows the “active concepts” that can be found in his interactive works (Eniarof, Ortep…).
I had already experimented a lot with water as a means of interaction, for example, in a project where you have to touch others with a sponge in order to interact in the water. And when I was at the Galerie Duplex, I made a jaw of LEDs activated by contact with the tongue, called Jawey. I also made several trips to China, where I was fascinated by their practice of cleaning away calligraphy on the ground and by the old men who demonstrate their water-drawing in the parks. I began to think about it during a workshop that I titled Natural Interface Device, at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing in 2011. One night, while I was preparing a class, I had this water sprayer in front of me, and I was tinkering with LEDs. That was when the idea first came to me.
Is there a concept or a theory behind "Water Light Graffiti", or is it just eyecandy: playful tags and techno-bluff? For this project, I really thought about how I could develop an intelligent material without using complicated technology. I’m pretty obsessed with the ingenuity of simple ideas and tired of technology-heavy projects that can quickly become smoke factories. I wanted to develop a material that was fairly easy to use, and which could also be installed on a large scale. For me, technology should be magic and transparent. So I had in my hands two ideal components that I could bring together and interact with each other: water and light. I would say that this project is relatively consistent with my work on Eniarof and Oterp, where I tried to evolve the interaction between humans and technology from the fixed relationship that has dominated up till now… I’m still an adult, but I wish I could keep playing in the street like I did as a child. One of my main satisfactions today, as an artist, is showing things that make people smile,
or at least, delighting them even for a moment. So yes, there is a common idea behind all my work that very often tries to bluff people, but not just technically.
Do you currently have other projects based on this process? I would like to find some time for myself to have fun drawing on the wall… But yes, long before I started making the large-format wall that we presented in Poitiers in July 2012, I had begun thinking about ideas for a small format. The magic slate was one of those cool inventions that I held in my hands as a child, so I will also work on smaller objects. In fact, I had already started making things through this process before Water Light Graffiti, so I think I’ll go back to them.
You developed this project at Digitalarti’s ArtLab. Can you give some (objective) feedback about this experience, and more generally, in light of your other experiences, tell us what can be gained from this type of residency? I’ve had the chance to do a few residencies these past years in Tokyo, Madrid, Lorient, and finally here in Paris, at Artlab. Each time the logistics were different, sometimes with a beautiful space and little production equipment, but lots of people to meet. The Prado medialab in Madrid is the closest to Artlab, which for me is a guarantee of quality. However, Artlab is more focused on production, which is perfect when you come with an idea and need to develop prototypes and get right into it.
The concept of interactivity is at the heart of your work process. What technological developments can we expect in this field? What kinds of new artworks will we be facing? We’re coming to an era where everything will go very fast, and I think it’s important that people understand and know the basics about their future environment. Our technologies will be more and more natural, and therefore pervasive. They’re talking about intelligent dust; everything will be increasingly miniaturized with MEMS (microelectromechanical systems) that can capture a bit of everything around you while being almost transparent. All this must remain magic, and I think that designers, artists and creators will relay the industry to show and encourage unexpected uses of technology and make them more transparent. We will see lots of magic. I feel that all this hyper-boosted creativity will no longer be aimed at the viewer, but at people in general. In the same way, exhibition venues and spaces will
© PHOTOS QUENTIN CHEVRIER
also certainly change… This is why I believe that street art, for example, has a real technological future. There’s a lot of talk these days about making the urban environment more playful… I will continue to create playful things, because I strongly believe in the importance of leisure in our society.
What are the backgrounds and dynamics of your new-generation media art students at ENSAD? At ENSAD I teach in a small lab that sees its number of students double each year, so I do feel that the screenager generation of young people sensitive to electronic objects is increasingly curious about understanding their environment. I was lucky to come across a particular department where I wasn’t restricted to a certain creative form. The AOC (Communicating Object Workshop) studio is more of a free space, or a gateway that welcomes students from different sectors. So I see lots of different profiles that are related not only to media art, but also to textiles, design, 2D animation, photography. I think there will be a generation that is more and more transversal when it comes to technology. My own profile of professor and “tinkerer technician” isn’t always easy to
explain in an art school where the professor’s job is no longer to get their hands dirty with the student… I encourage my students to do things that could pass as engineering, so that in the future they are able to collaborate more easily with other technical professions, while integrating more creativity into a project’s development process. We hear a lot about UX (user experience) designers in the digital world. I would say that I’m more NUX (“non usual experience”) with my students.
Coming back to your own art practice, what other projects or directions are you headed for, or would you like to be leaning toward? Up till now my artistic activity was mostly exhibiting in fairs like Eniarof, in festivals or galleries. What I want most is to communicate my work to a larger audience, when I think it’s worth it. These days, for exactly this reason, I’m becoming more interested in the broader fields of industry, design and architecture. I still defer to Japanese creators whom I like a lot, such as Maywa Denki and Toshio Iwai, who are able to extend their creative folly to several fields at once. INTERVIEW BY LAURENT DIOUF
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FOCUS NERI OXMAN
NERI OXMAN MYTHOLOGIES OF THE NOT YET STORYTELLING AND HIGH-END RESEARCH IN 3D PRINTING As much inspired from Borges’ imaginary beings as borrowed from coral-like masses of DNA, amidst precious sculptures and organic prostheses for decades to come, Neri Oxman’s “Mythologies of the Not Yet” blurs the boundaries between scientific investigation and fantastic utopia. Transgressing art, science and design, these 3D prints brewed in the laboratories of the U.S. East Coast, Israel and Norway by algorithm researchers, biologists, engineers and chemists are, for this artist and MIT professor, the experimental totems of a revolution in progress.
© PHOTO R.R.
Conceived for the Creative Multiversities exhibition produced by Valérie Guillaume at the Centre Pompidou, Neri Oxman’s creatures challenge the viewer’s perception: What are they made of? Glass? Injected plastic? Acrylic, or something else altogether? Are these torsos, helmets and hips, like super-hero prostheses extending the body’s vital functions, part of an haute-couture collection inspired by biomimetic research, or are they the result of laboratory mutations produced by a sorcerer’s apprentice, under the influence of a singular baroque esthetic, between Art Nouveau and the science-fiction of H.R. Giger?
Creative Multiversities: generate, fabricate, represent
Pneuma. Close-up on textures. Colors correspond to different materials and elasticity criteria. From Neri Oxman’s Imaginary Beings, Mythologies of the Not Yet. Centre Pompidou, 2012.
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Architect, doctor in computational design, a graduate of Jerusalem’s school of medecine, Neri Oxman currently teaches at the Massachussetts Institue of Technology, where she directs the Mediated Matter research group. The group aims to reinforce the relationship between objects and natural and constructed environments by introducing design concepts inspired by nature to digital design and new media. The fruits of their research have been awarded numerous prizes and pre-
sented in various biennials (Venise 2002-2004, Beijing 2009-2010) and in France, at the Fonds national d’art contemporain of Orléans. In 2011 at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, Oxman presented her original piece Stalasso, made in collaboration with Craig Carter, professor at MIT’s department of material sciences and engineering. Stalasso was the object of a first meeting with Valérie Guillaume, curator of the Centre Pompidou’s Center for Industrial Creation: Our mission is to explore the creative process, not only in terms of making objects but also new systems of organizing design in the fields of architecture design and new media. Built around three axes—“generate, fabricate, represent”—the exhibition Creative Multiversities reflects on the future of the big data industry, whether it is based on computational design and innovation models such as fablabs or on any other process capable of generating forms and structures that may renew our everyday, cognitive, imaginary or esthetic experiences. The ball started rolling in September 2011, when Valérie Guillaume invited Neri Oxman’s team, along with 20 other architects and artist designers of her
© PHOTOS R.R.
Arachné. Self-portrait 2012, Neri Oxman. Multi-material 3D print on Objet Connex 500. From Neri Oxman’s Imaginary Beings, Mythologies of the Not Yet. Centre Pompidou, 2012.
Stalasso. Experiments on tubular formations. Stalasso, with a Fibonacci sequence inducing a spiral movement of air flowing through its skin cells, shows how it can have specific effects on the environment. Neri Oxman and Craig Carter, Boston Museum of Science, 2009.
generation (born in the late 1970s to early ’80s), to design and produce original pieces for an exhibition in May 2012.
introduces a system of vertical slots, which give the body flexibility without losing strength as it twists. The combination of colors represents the complementary materials that constitute these unusual creatures.
Nine months later, the prodigy of MIT, supported by her colleague Craig Carter, returned to Paris with 18 prototypes: 18 creatures as complex in volume as in concept, combining sciences, contemporary technologies and the universal myths they incarnate.
Biomimetics and Cryptozoology: the algorithms of life Most fascinating about Neri Oxman’s extraordinary bestiary is the way it explores the very process that leads to life, form and function. In the series Pneuma, which references both respiratory organs and the envelope of the soul, Oxman takes inspiration from the porous honeycomb structure of sponges to model a corset-like bustier, fabricated using components with mechanical properties that are resistant, tender and flexible, which allow air to circulate. In another functional family, the artist designer references the power of Leviathan, whose sea serpent characteristics are described in the Book of Job. For example, in the internal design of this second skin (Leviathan 2), she
Besides the MIT research professors, advised by the Wyss Institute of Harvard University, four other industrial engineering teams set out to work on Oxman’s fantasy objects: Math Works, a publisher of scientific software; Chaos Group, 3D rendering specialists; and the Norwegian company Uformia, which is increasingly focusing its activity on drawing and designing 3D objects for printing. And it’s thanks to the R&D team Objet Geometries, based in Tel Aviv, that this allegorical progeny will see the light of day. As key partners of the project, these masters of 3D inkjet printing worked with the artist specifically on algorithms and developing resin cartridges that can produce color patterns in three dimensions. Since 1998, the Objet chemists have been developing a whole range of materials—from the most rigid acrylic-based photopolymers capable of simulating glass to the most elastic technical plastics—, multiplying textural and rendering possibilities
Above: Pneuma. Multi-material 3D print on Objet Connex 500. Below: Levianthan 1. From Neri Oxman’s Imaginary Beings, Mythologies of the Not Yet. Centre Pompidou, 2012.
through a spectrum of tones and a special printing technique that simultaneously sends two jets of material. What motivated us in Oxman’s work is this ability to break free from the restrictions that are inherent to industrial design and push the creative process beyond current technological limits, says Eric Bredin, marketing manager of Objet in Europe. Hailed as a “Revolutionary Mind” by our colleagues at the scientific magazine Seed, Oxman chose to portray herself through the myth of Arachne. Just as the spider can spin up to six different threads of silk, so the architect elegantly trangresses the boundaries between art, science, literature and design, convinced that we are witnessing the dawn of an industrio-cultural revolution as powerful as Gutenberg’s printing press. VÉRONIQUE GODÉ
FURTHER INFORMATION: Neri Oxman < http://web.media.mit.edu/~neri/site/ > Creative Multiversities / Centre Pompidou < www.centrepompidou.fr/Pompidou/Manifs.nsf/0/606C6C4FA276DED6C125795F 003B21FA?OpenDocument&sessionM=&L=1&form= > Objet < http://objet.com > Seed < http://seedmagazine.com >
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PROFILE RANDOM INTERNATIONAL
DIGITALLY PURIFIED Presented at the Carpenters Workshop Gallery, the exhibition "Before The Rain" by the creative studio rAndom International broadens our perspectives on behavioral, technological and purified human representation.
FAR, rAndom International / Wayne McGregor.
Situated at the crossroads of kinetic art and interactive installations, the sevenyear-old London-based creative studio rAndom International has already dug deep into the nuances of human representation in artworks relating to movement, light, and strong yet often minimalist esthetics. Despite their sober approach, everything in their projects is subject to change. Their strangely textured work reveals mechanisms that sometimes act like digital paintings, where light blurs the appearance and fading disappearance of the represented form. Such is the case with the materialized image of the viewer, whose moves are reinterpreted (filtered by LEDs
in Swarm Light or Future Yourself, captured by light-reactive ink in Self Portrait and Study For A Mirror) before they are programmed to disappear. rAndom International’s three thinking heads—Stuart Wood, Florian Ortkrass and Hannes Koch—draw upon a very sensitive combination of technological tools (computers, motion-capture software, LEDs, OLEDs, etc.) as well as more traditional means of representation (frame, mural printers, mirrors), which they take pleasure in transcending together through projects that question behavioral logic. As the trio prepares to occupy The Curve at the Barbican Center in London with their installation Rain Room, their latest exhibition Before The Rain at the Carpenters Workshop Gallery in Paris almost seemed to be a retrospective. It was also the perfect opportunity to meet the artists behind these very particular pieces.
rAndom International was formed quite recently. Did you always have such a strong esthetic in your work from the very beginning?
© PHOTO DEEPRES / COURTESY CARPENTERS WORKSHOP GALLERY
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rAndom was founded following our graduation from the Royal College of Art. It evolved from being a loose collective
since its conception in 2002. Esthetically, we follow no pre-determined school but rather rely on our mutual intuitive understanding; I guess a unanimous contempt for waste, styling and a communal passion for minimalist/reductionist processes in the physical manifestation of our work. Artistically, we are fascinated by a broad spectrum of artists, scientists and people from the performing arts. There are different focal points at different times; for the last couple of years we’ve been particularly led by curiosity for the findings of behavioral and cognitive research. We’ve had an increasing interest in some niches of art history that deal with artists and institutions who have worked on similar themes such as Otto Piene, Group Zero, Howard Wise and others. It’s very interesting to look at this from a contemporary perspective.
The piece "Swarm Light", which translates patterns of collective behavior found in nature into moving light, like a swarm of bees, is fundamental in portraying the dynamic relationship between the piece and the viewer. This approach is also used by other collectives such as UVA. Is this concept of working around light
© PHOTOS COURTESY CARPENTERS WORKSHOP GALLERY / R.R.
Swarm @ Victoria & Albert Museum, rAndom International, 2010.
mobility and viewer interaction essential to rAndom International’s work process?
a true artistic medium, an experience of self-communication …
The response of, and exchange with, the viewer is indeed crucial to a lot of our research; the unpredictability of human behavior is such an interesting starting point for sculpture and installation work, and the latter are brilliant ‘tools’ to evoke, predict, test and perhaps sometimes also control behavioral responses. The medium (light, an algorithm, a piece of sensorbased software, kinetics, etc.) is hereby secondary. With pieces like Swarm Light we were interested in finding out if we’d be able to simulate and embody such efficient and beautiful movement in a natural fashion, and what the exposure to such a simulation would do to us: would it be possible to establish more emotional relationships between an object and the viewer if the behavior displayed by the object appears to be very natural? Swarm Light was the first piece where we simulated ‘figurative’ natural behavior, and we have since pushed the research much further into this direction, so for us it represents our approach, yes.
The element of self-recognition through creating self-image is definitely something that plays a role. We found that this dialogue with oneself is often made much richer through physical engagement/movement than through pure image representation. Communicating with, and through, your own full body in space adds a third dimension and a new level of control over your environment (through gesture, movement or facial expression). The ‘self-communication’ becomes somehow more real like that.
In "You Fade To Light", where the viewer’s moves are reflected in a grid of mirrors through a kind of symbolic silhouette, the informal interactivity between the viewer and his/her light representation ends in the programmed disappearance of this representation. There are two sides: one very real and the other one more abstract, as if the viewer is communicating with him/herself through the piece, making it
"Self-Portrait" is quite original, in that the representation/interaction comes in the form of printing the viewer’s portrait as a light-reactive screen print on canvas. Did you intend through this piece to transcend traditional media such as painting and photography, in order to explore new technological perspectives? We saw it more as an exploration of image value: normally images, and of course portraits, are stored somewhere, and give you a tangible (and often charming, or staged) record of how you ‘were’ in one particular moment in time. With Self Portrait, you don’t have that reassurance; you have to be completely present to ‘consume’ your act of portraiture, as it fades within the minute. By removing the baggage, the viewers are encouraged to experience themselves with more ‘presence’. Or at least, to have a lot of fun by trying again and again without the fear of ‘failure’.
Future Self, rAndom International, 2012.
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© PHOTO COURTESY CARPENTERS WORKSHOP GALLERY / R.R.
"Self-Portrait" is part of a series titled "Temporary Printing Machine". Was it your interest in the concepts of presence and absence that made you want to experiment further with ephemeral printing? What goes for image and portraiture is valid also in a wider sense for all sorts of digital data; with our increasingly screenbased consumption of image and text today, we tend to believe that this data is somehow ‘real’ or ‘tangible’. This may well be a slightly deluded belief: if you remove electricity from the equation, one is likely to be left with nothing. Making machines that heighten the experience of this ‘nothing’ is one of the reasons behind the Temporary Printing Machines.
For "Self-Portrait", you chose to work with light-reactive screen print on canvas. This material emphasizes both the idea of abstract representation and its organic nature. It calls to mind Thierry de Mey’s video installation Rémanences, which used infrared cameras to capture movement. Was it a conscious choice to avoid making an immediate connection 14 - digitalarti #11
with high-tech imagery, as we tend to see a lot lately in media art? Choosing a process like screen printing cotton canvas as a main component in an installation that makes use of face-recognition algorithms, LEDs and a dual core intel Mac was a very conscious choice, as it adds a level of ‘analogue’ to digital image creation. The temporary chemical process again helps to maintain the illusion of seeing something ‘real’ that you wouldn’t get from a TFT screen, or a projection.
In the same way, "Study For a Mirror" also questions the permanence of a piece in time. The conservation of digital artworks is a serious issue, given the impending obsolescence of their technological components. But can a “changing” piece like "Study For a Mirror" be linked to the question of an artwork’s temporality? Yes it can. This particular piece was accessioned into the permanent collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum in 2009, and we’re working closely with their conservation department on all questions sur-
rounding the preservation of such pieces. Besides the immaterial quality of the actual ‘output’ of the piece, we are discussing the core points relating to the concept, the intrinsically linked technological processes that are used to make the idea manifest and the issues surrounding the obsolescence of the components. So at this stage, we’re looking into finding durable ways of measuring and assessing its current ‘function’ so that this can be preserved; it ultimately shouldn’t matter if it’s run by a 2009 state-of-the-art PC or a quantum computer. What matters is what it does, not how. Trying to preserve that is a really interesting challenge.
With its ground-surface of 64 mirrors staring at the viewer walking on the platform, "Audience" is very representative of media artworks that put the viewer at the heart of the installation. But this piece also seems to emphasize this positioning through its inquisitive gaze, almost creating a paranoia that makes the viewer uncomfortable to be followed by his/her own eyes. Does "Audience" try to push the idea of
Audience, rAndom International, 2011.
PROFILE RANDOM INTERNATIONAL
Initially, we had assumed that it would pose some thoughts surrounding the uncanny, surveillance and loss of control. But what we find much more interesting is the behavior it evokes in the viewer and the role-reversal that takes place: the viewer becomes performer, and the installation turns into a spectator.
The piece that you are currently working on at the Barbican Center in London, "Rain Room", accentuates this idea of discomfort in the viewer’s mind. I read something about being able to walk through a 100-square-meter field of falling water… Can you tell us more? Not yet, no (smile). It’ll be premiering at the Barbican Curve space on October 3, and we can’t wait to work with the piece and the audience reaction once it’s up.
Through this upcoming piece, and beyond the question of formal representation, is the study of experiences resulting from the interaction between viewer and artwork just as important? Is it a bit like the “random” part of your artist name? We guess that again, the ‘experience’ is only created to elicit a behavioral response in the viewer. And observing that response, and working with it, is one of the core interests that fuel our work.
The piece "Study of Time /I" again emphasizes this idea of presence and absence/disappearance, this time through
a wall frame of LEDs interacting like a refined ballet of lights. This piece originated from a staged choreography performance, "FAR", directed by Wayne McGregor. Is choreographic experience another approach developed by rAndom International? Why did you chose to create a more intimate installation for this piece? We think the choreographic experience is definitely not an approach that we’ve developed; it’s more a dialogue that evolved from earlier collaborations with Wayne McGregor. His perspective on our work does add some very interesting insights and starting points that we would otherwise find difficult to access. Study of Time /I is an exploration of the algorithmic principles of movement that Stuart and Wayne developed during the making of FAR. Bringing it into a piece like ‘Study Of Time’ just made sense and allowed us to further work on these principles in a more intimate environment. The set for FAR spans almost 10 meters across.
However, there does seem to be a choreographic approach in the piece "Future Self", also in collaboration with Wayne McGregor and Max Richter for the music, which translates your observations on viewer behavior into the animation of an avatar on a three-dimensional LED sculpture…? Future Self was a result of conversations that we’ve had with cognitive scientist Phil Barnard and the Head Of Research of NaturalMotion Games [one of the leading game technology and development companies], Joss Knight in summer 2011. Those discussions dealt with our percep-
tion of motion and the simulation of natural movement to a large extent. At the same time, we simply felt ready to bring the entire discourse to the level of a piece that would allow for full representation of the self using light. The collaboration with Wayne (McGregor) and Max (Richter) was then fuelled by the guys from MADE Space [a creative platform for artists from various fields] in Berlin, who commissioned the entire piece as well as the performance and score. So for us, it’s really interesting to have a piece that works both as a performance and as a sculpture that can be viewed on its own.
Through the visualization of this incarnate light figure, "Future Self" explores the idea of an “enhanced character”, capturing the movements of all the viewers in a sort of quintessential representation. The esthetic is that of an abstract character, as in some of the installations of Electronic Shadow … The focus of Future Self, and in particular its tracking, was rooted in the desire to create interesting iterations of the selfimage. So there’s a few different ways that the piece behaves when there’s one or two people in front of it, but possibly the most striking one is the delayed mirror, which allows you to interact with the future image of yourself. INTERVIEW BY LAURENT CATALA
FURTHER INFORMATION: < http://random-international.com >
Study Of Time, rAndom International, 2011.
© PHOTOS COURTESY CARPENTERS WORKSHOP GALLERY / R.R.
interaction toward “sur-representation”, by linking it to concepts of voyeurism or CCTV webcam channels that are very common in cities such as London?
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INNOVATION DIRECT INTERACTION
emotion into the discussion within worlds that are very different from the linearity and rationality of the written text.
A QUESTION OF TIME NEW FRONTIERS OF TIME AND CULTURE IN OUR NETWORKED SOCIETIES The speed of an Internet data exchange is measured in thousands of kilometers per millisecond. The distance that separates us from a source of digital information on a computer, wherever it may be, has vanished. Nevertheless, during a two-way exchange of information between humans instead of machines, each person’s biological clock influences her experience and her capacity to interpret the exchanged information. Now that synchronous (live) interactions are increasingly present in our digital lifestyles, we can legitimately ask: "When are you?" © PHOTO R.R.
seeing the caller, regardless of his time-space. This new possibility in terms of communication has crept into our daily lives, from update to update. Without giving it a second thought, we have agreed and accepted, only to click and continue.
Jamming The Network @ SAT, Montréal, 2010.
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Ever since the emergence of language, face-to-face human conversation has required sharing the same time-space. The telephone eliminated the distance between the voice and the ear, but the experience of a conversation in the presence of the other remained incomplete. Then, in less than a decade, bidirectional audiovisual transmission over the Internet popularized the impossible: hearing AND
Webcams have restored live conversation and interaction, which for the past several centuries had given way to the predominance of writing, where the primary function of letters and reports to reflect and analyze allowed us to refine our thoughts… in solitary, asynchronous (delayed) mode. With online face-to-face, we are re-immersed in intuitive communicational dynamics, based on the synchronous present moment, which re-integrates body language and
Never before in human history have we had so many possibilities to communicate synchronously. Now everyone can interact directly with one or several people located in similar or different time-spaces. This tidal wave of live conversations and interactions has spurred along with it a wave of self-broadcasting, where everyone is self-taught. The education system, designed to convey information through texts and documents, is having a hard time keeping up. The current experience is spontaneous and on the street; the manuals are being written collectively on the Web, day by day. The counter-force to the scale of destruction is the scale of communication. This quote from the Electronic Cafe manifesto(1), published in 1984, could have been written today. As the use of telepresence in our daily lives begins to increase, it seems that only the cultural and social sectors are exploring innovative approaches, outside the conventional models of marketing and mass media. In a world where everything is destined to being sponsored, digitized and globalized, are cultural and community spaces the last bastions of spontaneity and human contact?
Culture and society / here and now In order to participate in and fully benefit from a live cultural performance, you must be present, here and now. Encounters between artists and audiences engender new conversations and favor spontaneous exchanges, before, during and after the event. This clash of ideas, this group experience, is the foundation of a living culture. How can access to telepresence-ondemand in a public cultural space enrich the experience of creating, interacting and broadcasting? The Metalab of the Society for Arts and Technology (SAT) in Montreal has been exploring this question since 2003. In 2007, it began developing an open-source platform for staged telepresence(2) in an effort to accelerate
© PHOTOS R.R.
networked art and experimentation with other cultural centers, wherever they may be around the globe. Here is some of what we learned from these experiments: • Staged telepresence requires three types of expertise in each place: online networking; digital audio-visual production; art and animation. The field of media art, where most of these expertises cross paths, is ideal for developing new forms of encounters, events and interactions through telepresence. • Using a standard platform accelerates knowledge-sharing and the creation of an international network for experimentation and distribution. This human and technological network also allows for performances that can “tour” through this network. • Different types of interconnexion can be combined: place to place, person to place, place to virtual space, etc. Exploring the possibilities of interaction between real, virtual and augmented spaces is fascinating. To be continued… • In a world where we are increasingly isolated and where we feel relatively anonymous in front of our personal screen, telepresence reactivates our reflexes regarding group behavior and face-to-face interaction. But the essential lesson, imposed by nature rather than technology, is the following: • All telepresence activity is composed of several parallel time-spaces that we try to synchronize. Connecting several “heres” at the speed of light implies that we also have several “nows”.
The digital network is global and synchronized. Humans, however, are local and cyclical. The geographical position of each place and its participants is necessarily linked to a culture, a language and a local solar time. In the case of public and cultural spaces, each has its own history and community. A better knowledge of the human and social biorhythms—the “here” and “now”—of those with whom we wish to connect is just as important as the quality of bandwidth and code.
Impact on types of interactions If the ubiquity of digital communication allows each one of us to spend and organize our personal time exactly as we wish, it’s another story when it comes to collective time-space. For example, if a performance taking place on a Sunday night in Montreal is connected by telepresence to a subway platform in Taipei (Sunday night in Montreal and Monday morning in Taipei), there is very little chance that the Taiwanese audience will participate unless we integrate the participation of commuters into the scene. The “third space” that is created by any form of telepresence activity will finally be situated in a time-space that has been negotiated or imposed according to the nature of existing connections, distances and protocols between the participants.
position of the participants. Along the East-West axis, the more time zones are crossed, the more complex the negotiations… Which participants will have to modify their social biorhythm in order to attend? What will be the etiquette for scheduling flexibility? Will there be an audience in each location? Along the North-South axis, negotiations to synchronize local schedules will be greatly simplified, as all the participants have the same personal and social biorhythm.
In a synchronous scenario implying the assembly of several humans, it is difficult to overrule the solar cycle. The possibilities of interaction must take into account the geographical
As the network reduces the distance to zero, the space separating several groups connected by telepresence is perceivable only through the lag in their biorhythms.
Dieu est un DJ, Falk Richter.
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Mappemonde des corridors culturels spatio-temporels.
This gap is measured not in kilometers but in time zones. When local solar time remains the only link with our geographical position, tell me “when are you?” and I will know what time corridor you are in.
Emergence of cultural time-space corridors Our willingness to collaborate and meet through online networks has led to the emergence of cultural timespace corridors that disregard political borders and replace them with those defined by the sun and language. Online, our local time-space of interaction now extends from north to south on the globe.
Each point on the world map [opposite] represents a corridor where all the participants are separated by fewer than two time zones and are therefore more or less biologically aligned. Moving around online within one of these corridors leads to no major NetLag. Contacts separated by a distance of more than two points are more difficult to cross within our everyday time-space window and require adequate coordination in order to interact synchronously. Beyond four or five points, it is impossible to do a live project without one of the parties temporarily changing their daily behaviors.
to a different biorhythm, their respective mindsets and energy levels are not aligned Crossing the borders of local solar time is a with each other. recent phenomenon. Only in the early 1960s, Another type of “lag” appeared with the as long-haul international flights became Internet: “NetLag”. This occurs when you more common, could the “JetSet” cross seve- virtually cross several time zones in order to ral time zones in just a few hours and feel the participate in a networked collaborative effects of “JetLag”: event. All the participants feel a biorhythmic Solar lag / Physical effects: Once the body lag, more or less strong depending on how finds itself in a different time zone, its cicamany time zones separate them. dian rhythm, its internal clock, is offset. In the end, the lag between the event and the By immediately trying to resynchronize, it daily schedule of the parties involved will be disrupts its biological clock. the result of negotiations (best compromise), Biorhythmic lag / Psychic effects: Because the limits (venues, audiences, fixed events) or biological clock of each party is synchronized authority (customer-supplier).
From JetLag to NetLag
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Telepresence events requiring the audience to be present in each space will naturally favor the North-South axis. As social biorhythms along this axis are aligned on several points, it will be more and more simple to share our daily cultural and professional lives, even separated by thousands of kilometers. As to East-West connections, telepresence still eliminates travel time and reduces the effects of solar offset, but they will be much more oriented toward professional collaborations or occasional cultural and social encounters, given the constant negotiation required to coordinate local schedules and biorhythms. The language spoken must also be considered in the emergence of these cultural corridors. On the world map, the colored zones represent very approximately the use of international languages (i.e. those also spoken outside their country of origin); the black zones indicate places where the native language is rarely spoken outside national borders. This information gives us a rough idea of the potential for collaboration by telepresence in each cultural corridor. As more and more Netizens have replaced the old dream of esperanto with “esperanglo”, the language barrier is slowly dropping, but solar lag will always be present.
INNOVATION DIRECT INTERACTION
So when will we meet?
Instead of being held back by multiple trips back and forth, which are both financially and physically costly, we could undertake long collaborations without expensive travel and finance one or two “presencial” meetings, which would be more productive than ever, as the introductions will have already been made via telepresence. As for encounters between audiences, nothing stops us from planning a series of white nights where everyone on the planet could be together at the speed of light—a 24-hour cultural truce abolishing the alignment of our social biorhythms and allowing encounters between audiences that would otherwise be impossible to program. We have lived too long isolated inside our national cultures, crossing others only through mass media and diplomatic relations. As observed by
As a designer for over 30 years, René Barsalo has founded and co-directed several innovative companies and industry organizations in Montreal, in graphics, multimedia and computers—three sectors that have been constantly evolving since the emergence of digital media. From 2004 to 2011, he was the director of research and development for the Society for Arts and Technology, focused on telepresence and immersion. Currently, he designs digital experiences and is involved in many technological and social co-designs. He is also finishing the production of his first transmedia essay: Notes on digital mutation: first impacts on identity, space and time, to be released in 2013. McLuhan, First we shape our tools, thereafter they shape us(3). The emergence of cultural time-space corridors from our digital “tools” will surely shape our geo-cultural, economic and political future. Being together, face-to-face among citizens, live and without intermediary as the world is in turmoil offers an exceptional opportunity to share our common points rather than our differences. Media artists, experts in human emotion and the
present moment, are best suited to understand and shape these new tools, knowing that they will in turn shape us. It’s just a question of time. RENÉ BARSALO UTC -5, MONTRÉAL, QUÉBEC
(1) www.ecafe.com/museum/about_festo/84manifesto.html (2) http://code.sat.qc.ca/redmine/projects/scenic/wiki/Scenic_fr (3) Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media, 1964.
Dieu est un DJ, Falk Richter.
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© PHOTOS R.R.
When we compare the cost of a plane ticket with that of a telepresence meeting, our collaborations beyond borders, especially along the NorthSouth axis, are bound to be more numerous than in the past. And might cultural solitudes emerge between East and West? Probably much less than in the present…
UBIQUITOUS LUCIFUGE: TELEPRESENCE AND DIGITAL ART If the collective unconscious imagines this faculty to be somewhat divine, notwithstanding its duplicitous connotation, the more down-to-earth definition of telepresence involves gathering together several people in different locations at the same moment, acting on a single project. This new collaborative practice has grown with technological developments such as broadband applications and 3D imaging. Telepresence was also in the spotlight of a recent trans-Atlantic project between the cities of Montreal and Poitiers. Since early 2011, SAT (Society for Arts and Technology in Montreal) and Lieu Multiple (the media art component of
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© PHOTO PHILIPPE JASMIN
Segueing from the realm of virtuality and awaiting the fall of yet another ephemeral new "frontier of reality", telepresence is the latest incarnation of media art magic, as it bridges gaps between protocols and devices with various forms of interactivity.
Yan Breuleux works in experimental video animation for immersive environments. For the past decade, he has been collaborating with musicians and composers—in particular with Alain Thibault as the duo PurForm—to create multiscreen, panoramic and hemispheric performances. His most notable video work is the series ABC Light. His work has been shown in festivals including Transmediale in Berlin, ISEA in Paris, Dissonanze in Rome, Scopitone in Nantes and Nemo in Paris. His online projects have been exhibited at the Museum of Quebec, Museum of Rimouski and New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York. Following his project Black Box, an immersive, four-screen installation, Breuleux assumed the co-design and artistic direction of the panoramic video project Ars Natura for the foundation Nature Museums of Montreal and the Society for Arts and Technology.
© PHOTOS R.R.
Société des Arts Technologiques, Montréal.
Espace Mendès France, Poitiers.
Espace Mendès France in Poitiers) have been collaborating on a telepresence art project with support from the Region of Poitou-Charentes and the Franco-Quebecois funds for decentralized cooperation. This artistic and cultural project uses and distributes digital techniques that utilize the full potential of broadband networks. It follows the signing of a contract in January 2012, allocating public resources to install a broadband communication network that covers the greater Poitiers area. This network should be completed in early 2014 and involves the presence of cultural institutions on the territory.
ating visual disturbances in the environment. Their remote and real-time interaction also activates a generativemusic instrument with resonance strings …/… At all times, both groups of viewer-participants in Montreal and Poitiers can interact and exchange with each other in real time within this dynamic and shared virtual space.
The projet has also led to an artwork called Lucifuge, by Yan Breuleux (Quebec) and Robin Meier (France), in collaboration with the creative-research teams of SAT in Montreal and Lieu Multiple in Poitiers, as well as Hervé Jolly, artist and programmer. The artwork was realized during an exchange program set up by these two structures. The first crossexchange residency Contamine SAT/EMF took place in Montreal’s Metalab on January 21-27, 2012. The objective of this workshop encounter was to conceive the project while taking into account the artistic possibilities of the technologies developed by SAT. The artists also had to establish a production schedule and prepare the next residency in Poitiers, which started in September 2012. The Lucifuge telepresence artwork allows viewer-participants at the Satosphere in Montreal and the Planetarium of Espace Mendès France in Poitiers to contribute to a blossoming complex ecosystem of robot insects and particle masses that flee the light. The viewer-participants use flashlights to chase the robot insects, thus cre-
The Lucifuge installation was constructed using software tools and methods of remote and real-time collaboration developed at SAT’s Metalab: the SCENIC software suite for the telepresence/teleoperation and SPIN (Spatial Interaction Framework) architecture for the assembly and interactive control of the visual and audio elements that allow for spatial interaction and which constitute the experience of the artwork. The SCENIC software suite was designed to help create a new form of networked performance art. This powerful tool is open and simple for stage technicians and artists from all disciplines to transfer high-quality audio, video and data feeds. By encouraging experimentation with new concepts for the stage and the development of skills that are specific to this new space for creativity and distribution, SCENIC contributes to the ongoing discussion around new performance spaces.
Robin Meier is a Swiss artist and trained musician, who is interested in the emergence of intelligence, both natural and artificial, as well as the role of humans in a world of machines. He attempts to shed light on these themes through musical compositions and sound installations. From 2001 to 2005, Meier studied electroacoustic composition at the National Conservatory and CIRM in Nice. From 2004 to 2007, he studied cognitive philosophy at École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris, where he wrote his thesis on models of cognition and their artistic experimentations. Since 2004, Meier also works as an electronic musician with institutions such as IRCAM / Centre Pompidou (Paris), CIRM (Nice), FNM / Staatsoper (Stuttgart), La Muse en Circuit (Paris), Radio France…
The SPIN architecture was developed primarily for the spontaneous creation of collaborative 3D environments. It is composed of a software suite and OSX and Linux librairies for 3D visualization and spatial interaction in networked virtual environments. SPIN can quickly make prototypes of immersive and interactive networked experiences. For example, Lucifuge uses SPIN to create particle clouds that can be generated and altered simultaneously in both spaces. This tool opens a fundamental discussion on new formalisms for formal, relational and playful processes. LAURENT DIOUF Lieu Multiple, digital artwork at Espace Mendès France, C.C.S.T.I. (Centre de Culture Scientifique, Technique et Industriel), Poitiers. Website: http://lieumultiple.org SAT, Society for Arts and Technology, Montreal. Website: www.sat.qc.ca
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HACKERS FOR AN OPEN CULTURE WILL THEY SAVE THE WORLD? It’s always difficult to redefine a trendy word, especially one that’s been so butchered by the media that we think “hacking” is bad, and that “the hacker” is a powerful bandit. © PHOTO R.R.
My definition of “hacker”, whenever I can give it, is closer to “exalted engineer”. The first hackers, and their culture, were born in a miniature model club at MIT. They were making electric trains, very far from the image of pirates that you hear about today!
Louis Montagne Founder of Bearstech http://bearstech.com
This culture, which is indeed a culture, strong and idealistic, was presented by Steven Levy, in the form of fundamental principles: I. Access to computers should be unlimited and total. II. All information should be free. III. Mistrust authority—promote decentralization. IV. Hackers should be judged by their hacking, not bogus criteria such as degrees, age, race or position. V. You can create art and beauty on a computer. VI. Computers can change your life for the better. More than a mere challenge, what motivates hackers is understanding the world and the pleasure of doing something that will stick or that is “smart”. Their approach is creative, active, and very political, based on understanding and innovation: how does an SMS work (why is it more expensive than an e-mail?), what is a microwave, what is the “security of this system”, how are addresses numbered on a street…
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Hacks can very well take place in the real world. Hackers are idealists, they respect the fundamental principles, and will do anything to enforce their respect. The Internet is a flagrant example: experts are often hackers, and it’s thanks to them and these fundamental principles that an (almost) free, open, neutral system—a system that transcends nations and to which anyone can contribute—(still) survives today. This poses a number of questions and challenges many established models. The concepts of borders and nations are becoming more complex, as the digital economy explodes, yet depends on the Internet, and thus, on the six principles. We talk about hacker culture, and in a broader sense of digital culture, with its ethics, its rules, its references, its spaces, its construction. With the lightning development of our all-digital world, digital culture is certainly becoming increasingly visible, but remains reserved and elistist. “42”, “glider”, “bar” are just a few entry points of reference to understanding this culture. While hackers created the demoscene, which provided the first digital artworks, they favored collaboration, decentralization, openness, and very probably engendered Free Software, “open culture” and its “open activists”.
“Libristes”, as they are called in French, are defined on Wikipedia as people who are attached to the ethics of free software and open culture in general. They consider the 4Rs, as defined by OpenContent, to be fundamental: 0. Reuse - the right to reuse the content in its unaltered / verbatim form. 1. Revise - the right to adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself. 2. Remix - the right to combine the original or revised content with other content to create something new. 3. Redistribute - the right to share copies of the original content, your revisions, or your remixes with others. (Beginning numbered lists with 0 is technically practical.) These “open activists” defend great principles: freedom of expression, respect for privacy, the neutrality of the Internet, decentralized operations such as P2P, cooperation… They develop, code, create applications, pilot machines, and share as much as possible about what they do and how they do it. This allows them both to learn from others, who will also share, and to showcase themselves. This is how communities are formed, often around projects or gurus. A very good activist, or a very good hactivist, will quickly make a name for himself, but if he is also working on a useful or interesting project, he can very quickly find himself leading a large group of people. Not exactly a leader, but more of a guru, an example to follow. Hacktivists are today’s “sublimes”, those specialized workers who were the only ones who knew how to adjust, prepare and maintain factory production lines in the industrial era. They were obviously in high demand, chose their employers, took lots of free time, were difficult to manage yet indispensable to operations.
© PHOTO MOHA
Hype(r)Olds. We will need to manage these sublimes, listen to and understand them, as they are the ones who are setting the parameters of the industrial world of tomorrow. We have now arrived at a turning point in our social, economic models and existing structures: our natural resources are drying up, the global economy is reaching its limits, market capitalization is more and more risky, values are increasingly difficult to define. Sustainable development and eco-responsibility, which not long ago were little more than communication tools or mere inclinations, have become hard realities, actions that need to be taken and that a startup, for example, must absolutely take into account. The best way to do this is to share information, the richness of this information and the knowledge, experience and means to apply this information. The recent initiatives of Open Data and Open Gov are a good start, but we must
not stop there. In the coming years, we will need to protect this sharing of knowledge, protect these models and cultures, but also provide proper access to them. Just as we need to learn to be a citizen, we need to learn to be a good digital player, a true Netizen. We also see new types of companies emerging in the world, based on the concept of profitability for the structure and the employees, not just the shareholders (B Corps in the U.S. or SCOP en France, for example). Well beyond the capital divide, these models are the beginnings of what will probably need to exist tomorrow, with employees’ quality of life and company size becoming critical issues. Today, they are adapted to these sublimes, these hackers.
Cash? Who would have thought that we would see the Open Source model applied to other sectors, such as designing farm equipment (Open Source Ecology)? Being able to build your own equipment—now that’s sustainable development! Who would have thought that hacker collectives such as Telecomix would help citizens to regain control of their network, to rebuild their piece of the Internet? Could we have foreseen that movements like Anonymous would become essential to future conflicts, showing the way toward organization that is decentralized, resilient and capable of intervention? Perhaps, hackers will save the world, and open culture will be their weapon. LOUIS MONTAGNE BY COURTESY OF MCD
The strength of the Internet is incredible. Who would have thought that one could make a video, frame by frame, through the collaboration of thousands of volunteers around the world, honoring Johnny
ARTICLE PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED ON DIGITALMCD.COM IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE PUBLICATION OF MCD #68 DEVOTED TO THE OPEN FUTURE IN DESIGN, ARCHITECTURE, MUSIC, INTERNET, VIDEO, ART, SCIENCE… MORE AT WWW.DIGITALMCD.COM
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INTERVIEW DIGITAL ART
CHRISTINE SCHOPF CO-ARTISTIC DIRECTOR OF THE ARS ELECTRONICA FESTIVAL © PHOTO RUBRA
You were one of the co-founders of Ars Electronica in 1979. What were your thoughts as you were conceiving this first festival dedicated to electronic arts?
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We weren’t thinking 30 years ahead, but we thought the scene of art, technology and society the subtitle of Ars Electronica - would consist of the future. This was from the very beginning. The name didn't change, and the subtitle didn't change. […] My boss, Hannes Leopoldseder, whom I think is the real founder of Ars Electronica, came up with the idea, because just a few years before, the first Apple product came on the market as the first personal computer. He and we were convinced that this personal technology would influence the arts, that artists would use it, could use it now, and it would influence our society. Before it was meant to be just a small symposium on electronic music, because an electronic musician came with the idea to do a symposium and then he contacted Hannes Leopoldseder. For Hannes it was quite clear that this could be more than a small symposium, that this could be a festival, and that it could lead into the future. […] We had the idea, but we didn't know that it would be that fast and that strong, that this technology would become part of everybody’s lives. We didn't know, nobody knew, that it would happen within a few years.
The politicians of the time wouldn’t have continued to finance an event that excluded the locals!
8th symphony of Anton Bruckner. We had an 8-track tape, which was split into four, with loudspeakers on both sides of the Danube, inviting the orchestra, a big balloon in the center, a laser (which was a new technology at the time), and we expected about ten thousand people. In fact, a hundred thousand people came. We had done a lot of promotion work and we also invited people to participate: If you can't come to Klangwolke, take your radio, put it on your window, put it in your garden, and create your own Sound Cloud. The symphony was transmitted and broadcasted on the radio at the same time. So, a hundred thousand people came and this convinced politicians. The latter first said, “ok, let's keep Klangwolke, but forget Ars Electronica, that's for a small audience, it doesn't impress us”. Finally, Hannes Leopoldseder convinced them to keep it. His proposal was, “let's do a biennale. So you give the budget every year, we put it together, and every two years we do it”. This was just a practical thing. With that, Ars Electronica got more and more attention. So finally, the politicians understood this was something. […]
Hannes Leopoldseder’s idea was that we needed to have an event outside. This was Sound Cloud: Linz Klangwolke in the big open air, outside. […] So this first Sound Cloud was the
The evolution of the Prix Ars Electronica is fascinating. In the past, for example, the Golden Nica for Computer Animation was the most anticipated, whereas now,
These days, digital and online technologies are ubiquitous. Is it the social aspect of your event that keeps it relevant? The word “society” was present from the very beginning, and we also included sciences. So it was never meant to be an elite art festival. It was meant to be more of a cultural festival, dealing with cultural questions, and it was clear that this technology would influence our society a lot. And what we see nowadays is that even the current crisis would not have happened without digital technology, without networks, the globalization of IT. It was our precise idea to create a festival that included science. The first time it had rather been a technology-oriented and art-oriented symposium […] In the beginning, the topics were not meant for the general public of Linz. They would never go to Bruckner House. This happens everywhere. The people from the city where it happens don't come, but you get people from around the world.
© PHOTO NICOLAS FERRANDO & LOIS LAMMERHUBER
Ars Electronica Center.
it’s the Hybrid Art category that is in the spotlight… When we started Ars Electronica with those categories, we made clear from the very beginning that this was a growing project. Because technology grows, and it has to be open in the future for new categories, it has to be open so that we can withdraw some categories. So the Prix Ars Electronica grew to seven categories over the years with more or less technological changes and art changes. We increasingly find that the borders between the arts are disappearing. For instance, if you go to the CyberArts exhibition, you see the Nica final animation. Is it an installation? Is it an animation? You see in music, the German piece with visualization and acoustics. Is it music? Is it sound art? So this is really moving around. As I mentioned in the very beginning, I don't understand Ars Electronica as a pure arts festival, like Documenta. We understand it more or less as a big research lab.
Digital technology continues to shape our society… There have been years when we focused more on art. There have been years when we focused more on technology. For instance, in 1990: virtual reality and artificial life. All this related to the question: “what does this mean?” We did not merely present virtual reality as a
technological new thing, but asked: “how could this influence our society? What will this mean?” So we had a brilliant round of people here, from very different positions. There was Bruce Sterling, who is definitely not a technological person, William Gibson, people coming from a quite different position, talking about what it means. Other topics were more society-related or even politically influenced. It changes. Some years, it's a more philosophical topic, then it's more technological.
Institutional museums are still reticent about the idea of collecting unstable artworks. Could we say that Ars Electronica, through its openness to emerging artistic practices, has become a sort of lounge for the rejected, for those banished from the contemporary art market? I recently talked with Julius von Bismarck. I asked him about the situation of media art. Is it on the traditional art market of museums, galleries? There is always the financial question. What is the original work when you talk about art? Is it sustainable? Technology changes. Soon, maybe in 10 years, you will no longer be able to display it. This is a problem we have. For the art market, and I think for museums and galleries, there's also a little risk in installing interactive pieces, genetic art, because it's not that sustainable, it needs a lot of main-
tenance. Most museums have nobody who could do the maintenance […].
Is the low visibility of the digital art market essentially linked to the question of original artwork, which makes it a rare commodity? What we show here is more or less coming from laboratories, individual studios […]. I talked to Steven Sacks of Bitforms Gallery in New York. He sells media art. We talked about ARCO in Madrid, where he had a booth. As a certificate of originality, he gives the source code, but it's a joke. Rafael LozanoHemmer, who does many large-scale interactive works, produces prints instead. So an artwork always has to try to find a way to be sustainable. Our history is over 30 years old, and looking back, it always took a while. I remember the first images of Herbert Franke, one of the pioneers of computer graphics and also very related to Ars Electronica. Galleries and contemporary art museums did not show the work he had done. It was prints, easy to make, easy to exhibit. It came really over the years; with a delay of I don't know how many years, the art market opened. It began with video art, which started at the same time in the '60s in the U.S. and Europe. Video art became matter for collectors 20 years later! INTERVIEW BY DOMINIQUE MOULON AUGUST 31ST 2012, IN LINZ, EN AUSTRIA
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FEEDBACK ARS ELECTRONICA
ARS ELECTRONICA 2012 It was precisely September 18th 1979, in Linz that Hannes Leopoldseder, Hubert Bognermayr, Herbert Werner Franke and Ulrich Rützel initiated the first Ars Electronica festival. But who at the time would have thought that an event articulated right from its beginnings around art, technology and society would be so enduring? Christine Schöpf and Gerfried Stocker have taken on the artistic direction again this year.
Overview Cartographers, from time immemorial, have strived to represent the world and one has to admit that the photograph entitled The Blue Marble, a satellite image of the Earth dating from 1972, has greatly contributed to understanding its fragility. Then Google arrived and exposed its every nook and cranny. The exhibition The Big Picture at the Brucknerhaus is an assemblage of multiple representations of the world. There are, for example, two large screens connected to the site Visualizing.org. By looking at the map entitled Map of the Internet Submarine Cables designed by Nicolas Rapp, we discover that cloud computing is nothing more than a marketing invention because the emails that we send to correspondents on other continents use cables that humans have patiently laid along the ocean’s floors. The cable route between the Eastern United States and Europe seem to be the most “congested”. The network of networks thus appears to be a lot less immaterial than one might imagine with these huge energy consuming data centres that a web of cables links one to another.
Under surveillance Desire of Codes is a series of installations by Seiko Mikami that one can see and see again as they evolve so much while being exhibited. This time it is at Lentos that
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In the invisible Ars Electronica, is also a centre that seems a bit like a science museum where art sometimes blends with innovation. And it is down below, right at the bottom that a label, which is apparently without a corresponding work, draws our attention. We then continue our visit between mediators and technological objects when suddenly we feel we’re being observed. Somewhere here, there is a look, an eye spying on us, surveying us, once again. But it only appears furtively in spaces swept by momentarily abandoned looks. Reading the label we
learn that this work, extirpated from the invisible and entitled saccade-based display informs us that it involves the digital control of electroluminescent diodes right down to the millisecond. Retinal persistence does the rest. The furtive apparition of this eye that is spying on us might be considered to be the consequence of an involuntary collaboration between the apparatus of the work and the spectator’s body. Might not this pupil that literally unfolds in space be the perfect metaphor for a society under surveillance that George Orwell warned us about?
Disappearance Every year, the University of Art and Design in Linz welcomes creations from student artists from another school. This year, it is the Berlin University of the Arts that is being honoured and the level is excellent. Among other things, we discover the installation Digi.flat 90-12 by the Berlin collective Korinsky. This involves an assemblage of flat scanners turned towards the spectators. Slowly, they scan the exhibition space. This luminous work that incites contemplation is also interesting because it makes use of machines that are gradually fading away. What can now be digitalised in a world where everything is digital? Flat scanners, which yesterday symbolised access to the digital world,
Seiko Mikami “Desire of Codes”, ICC, Tokyo, 2011, Source: Keizo Kioku
© PHOTOS R.R.
Nicolas Rapp, Map of the Internet Submarine Cables, 2012. Source: Fortune
these mechanical arms are being exhibited, spying at us through their lenses. Those in the first room, numbering six, move around with suppleness in the silence, or almost, to then flee when they are observed. We are always in the line of sight of one of them, as though placed under constant surveillance, but without ever knowing under which angle. The fluidity of the machine’s movements, like a gentle threat, draw our attention while our images on the floor, appear and disappear, from one camera to the next. But there are other articulated arms awaiting us in an adjoining room. They become active also as soon as they see us, but they are smaller, more numerous, noisier too and only work in fits and starts. Here it is by their number that the work seems a little menacing, when it follows us with all of its robotised arms. A circular fragmented screen increases the insect quality of this second machine that ceaselessly observes us while surreptitiously posting video sequences that are like imagistic proofs of its extreme vigilance.
© PHOTOS R.R.
today only evoke the past of analogous electronic documents. These technological objects of a past revolution diverted by artists of the digital generation thus find again a use through the slow acquisition of a piece of the world.
Engulfed spectators It is at the Offenes Kulturhaus that one can find the CyberArt exhibition devoted to works awarded with distinctions ranging, in eight categories, from the highly sought after Golden Nica to honourable mentions. But the museum entrance is partially obstructed by the installation of another event: Sinnesrausch. Two bushy yellow rolls streaked with black resembling those we see in automatic car washes await the public. When they spin, whirling with speed, they are even more beautiful. Who hasn’t wanted to stay in the car as a child, engulfed by the flux of saturated, wet colours? This gateway, conceived by the artist David Moises and entitled Touch of the Tiger – even though there is neither soap nor water at the entrance to the museum – continues to indicate to us the limit between a before and an after, between one space and another; a kind of obligatory passage with the appearance of an initiation rite. Because, ought we not in fact separate ourselves from any prejudice or preconceived ideas before entering into a place devoted to art?
From order to chaos We are now at the CyberArt exhibition, under the lumino-kinetic installation Versuch unter Kreisen by Julius von Bismarck. This is the artistic result of a residency spent at CERN, where particles circulate on rings at great speed. The four lamps that are suspended from the ceiling also describe circles, but at varying speeds. Starting from there, every imaginable choreography is possible as well as every interpretation. The lamps describe figures that imperceptible transitions trigger one to the other. According to the artist, it’s only a question of mathematics here, though one asks oneself which one of the
four incandescent lamps directs the others. And just as quick as they come into alignment as though linked by invisible ties, there is one that seems to accelerate while another can’t manage to keep up with the group. You can watch them for hours on end, hypnotised by the aesthetic beauty of physical laws. The artist, Julius von Bismarck, when receiving his prize admitted to having learned a lot at the CERN. It is likely that the scientists were also marked by his presence.
Lunar geese At Ars Electronica, there are generally works that are presented while others are only documented. In the case of Agnes Meyer-Brandis, it is indeed the documentation that makes the work. The Moon Goose Analogue is only the poetic research stage built upon residences and exhibitions. To begin with, there is a book that was written in 1602 par Francis Godwin: The Man in the Moone that describes Domingo Gonsales’ journey to the Moon, drawn by a flock of geese! But it is also the first text that mentions weightlessness. The German artist decided to raise “lunar geese”, making sure that they would memorise her face as soon as they hatched. Agnes Meyer-Brandis has given them all the names of astronauts before preparing them to repeat the exploit achieved by those lead by Domingo Gonsales on the Moon. The confrontation between art and science in this project is perfectly orchestrated, right down to the gray colour of the lunar surface, recreated for the occasion and without forgetting the control room connected to the geese. Science here is at the service of the imagination, which always precedes it.
The free art of assemblage There are artists who have never quite grown up. The collaborative project Free Universal Construction Kit is one example. Initiated by Golan Levin and Shawn Sims after having noted the incompatibility between the various pieces coming from the many models of construction games, they
have now made it possible to freely download three-dimensional models for 80 adapters designed to connect the bricks of different brands ranging from Lego to Tinkertoys and on to Duplo. 3D printers are becoming more democratic. We are gradually seeing appear within small manufacturing laboratories the culture of Open Source technologies being associated with the practice of Free Art. The Free Universal Construction Kit is therefore much more political than it seems when it incites us, not to refuse standards any longer, but to imagine possible connections that allow us to create by operating through hybridisation. And it is perhaps the hybridisation of approaches, at the crossroads of art, technology and society that assures the longevity of the Ars Electronica festival itself. DOMINIQUE MOULON
FURTHER INFORMATION: Ars Electronica < www.aec.at > Visualizing.org < www.visualizing.org > Lentos < www.lentos.at > Seiko Mikami < www.idd.tamabi.ac.jp/~mikami/artworks > Junji Watanabe < www.junji.org > Korinsky < www.korinsky.com > David Moises < www.davidmoises.com > Julius von Bismarck < www.juliusvonbismarck.com > Agnes Meyer-Brandis < www.ffur.de > Golan Levin < www.flong.com > Shawn Sims < http://sy-lab.net > Free Universal Construction Kit < http://fffff.at/freeuniversal-construction-kit >
1. Junji Watanabe, Hideyuki Ando, Tetsutoshi Tabata, & Mariana Verdaasdonk, saccade-based display, 2007.
2. Korinsky, digi.flat 90-12, 2012.
3. David Moises, Touch of the Tiger, 2005.
4. Julius von Bismarck, Versuch unter Kreisen, 2012. Source: Rubra.
5. Agnes Meyer-Brandis, The Moon Goose Analogue, 2012.
6. F.A.T. Lab & Sy-Lab, Free Universal Construction Kit, 2012.
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© PHOTO COURTESY OF PATRICK LYDON / R.R.
Hojun Song, OSSI (Open Source Satellite Initiative), 2008.
SEEKING SILICON VALLEY The valley of innovation on the West Coast of the United States is the symbol of digital culture. Google, Facebook, Ebay… The whole world dreams of their campuses. Two years ago, the ZERO1 Biennial in San Jose spotlighted these young talents who are inventing new applications and transforming our daily lives under the theme Out of the Garage. This year, lead curator Jaime Austin has chosen the theme Seeking Silicon Valley, in search of this cultural identity that is so specific to the San Francisco Bay Area. The idea came to her on the way to the airport, as she went to pick up international guests who were eager to visit these famous sites of digital innovation. The “discovery tour” of companies was
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often deceptive. There was nothing to see but parking lots and campuses closed off to the public. The Silicon Valley network is much more virtual than physical. Creativity and innovation remain behind closed doors. For this reason, Silicon Valley native Jaime Austin invited four international curators to inaugurate the ZERO1 Garage in San Jose and experiment with collaboratively curating an exhibition from far beyond the Bay Area. Each was able to express her vision of Silicon Valley and bring a unique perspective on art and innovation: Dooeun Choi, a South Korean curator based in New York; Gisela Domschke, connecting Silicon Valley to Brazil; Michelle Kasprzak from Amsterdam; Regi-
na Möller from Berlin. Together, they already form an innovating team in Silicon Valley, where 95% of big company CEOs are men. The exhibition, which lasts through December 8, 2012, presents 24 artists representing 11 countries. Outstanding projects include Philippine-born, San Francisco-based Stephanie Syjuco’s FREE TEXT: The Open Source Reading Room, a selection of texts about the Open Source movement and Creative Commons; Shu Lea Cheang’s Baby Work, an interactive, musical, robotic wall created from e-waste; and Michael Najjar’s visualization of Nasdaq indices in the form of an Argentinian mountainscape. Dooeun Choi invited Maurice Benayoun to present his telepresence installation Tunnels Around the World, which connected Media City Seoul 2012 with Silicon Valley in real time. She also selected Eduardo Kac’s Aromapoetry (first discovered at Centre des Arts d’Enghien-lesBains), which offers an experience in olfactory nanotechnology, Chinese artist Wu Juehui’s Brain Station 2, which transforms brainwaves into light, and South Korean artist Hojun Song’s Open Source Satellite Initiative (OSSI). According to Song, science is a fantasy and should be open to citizen contributions. This project, which he started several years ago, has led him to participate in all the scientific symposia regarding outer space. This first satellite built exclusively from open source components was made thanks to a residency in France, and will soon launch with Russian partners. To donate to the project, log on to http://opensat.cc . Art in space, nano art, telepresence and brainwaves: Dooen Choi, who shares her homeland with Nam June Paik, focuses on artists who use technology to reveal the invisible, who connect with us through intimate experiences and conjugate the future in the present tense. For urban screens, she presented The Sigh of Fukushima by Bae Youngwhan, a South Korean artist who walked across Fukushima with a Japanese guide and a handheld camera, and News From Nowhere by Moon Kyoungwon and Jeon, whose diptych questions the role of the artist after the end of the world. Berliner Regina Möller is most impressed by Silicon Valley’s capacity to make bodies disappear in favor of virtual reality. Her selected artists—Wendy Jacobs, Jae Rhim Lee and Jegan Vincent de Paul—all show that we are more than just virtual beings, and they place our physical bodies at the heart of our digital experiences.
© PHOTO COURTESY OF PATRICK LYDON / R.R.
The question of invisible bodies, as well as new applications and innovation in terms of environmental issues, is the theme explored by Gisela Domschke. The Brazilian artists she invited work on recycling (Gambiologia) or question our frantic consumption of mobile devices (Lucas Bambozzi). Finally, Michelle Kasprzak emphasizes that art is probably what is missing from the Valley. The link between science, innovation and creativity is nonetheless fertile. Today’s artist is an entrepreneur. To illustrate these art-science connections, she chose European artists: the Belgian Frederik De Wilde, whose nano artwork is so black that it absorbs light; the Frenchwoman Nelly Ben Hayoun, whose Ground Control: An Opera in Space by the International Space Orchestra is the first orchestra made up of space scientists; the Swiss Pe Lang, who presents his kinetic installations (Falling Objects and Moving Objects), as well as the famous decomposed-recomposed Toaster Project by the British designer Thomas Thwaites. For Michelle Kasprzak, the main ingredient of this innovative valley is the right to fail. It’s about the constant prototyping that takes place before the experiment succeeds. Sometimes the process is more important than the result. Such is the new
frontier and the major teaching from this ecosystem so particular that it can’t be reproduced anywhere else in the world. In addition to being showcased in Garage ZERO1, the permanent exhibition hall designed by the architect Christopher Haas, art was spread throughout public space. E-Merge, the event dedicated to emerging artists, attracted 10,000 people to downtown San Jose. The ArtHERE initiative allowed local companies to be associated with the art program; for example, the Downtown Yoga Shala invited Hong Kong artist Samson Young to give a sitespecific performance of his experiment in transforming brainwaves into music. Video artworks were also shown on screens installed in public space, including a program curated by Nina Colosi of the Streaming Museum of New York(1). A network of local partners has engaged social and environmental projects that will continue well after the Biennial, as they foreground connections between real/virtual art/technology, global/hyperlocal, public/private: Lemonopoly is an interactive game that aims to make the valley autonomous in terms of lemon production, Manifest.AR@ZERO1 assembles artworks in augmented reality… One installation even touted in front of the Ebay campus: Before Us is the Salesman’s
House by Jer Thorp and Mark Hansen. To conclude this panorama, ZERO1 organized talks with artists and exhibition curators. One of the highlights was Bruce Sterling’s presentation of the New Aesthetic(2). He began by reminding us that computer art has a history that is not sufficiently recognized. Computer-generated images have existed for more than half a century. What is new, however, are our everyday actions: taking a photo with an iPad, searching for a WiFi network in public space, etc. We now live in the world of code, a world that has become surreal through the emergence of digital technology in reality. Congratulations to the ZERO1 team for the 2012 biennial, which inaugurated its permanent exhibition space welcoming international artists to the heart of Silicon Valley. We fully share ZERO1 director Joel Slayton’s convictions: art, at the frontier of technology, broadens our critical understanding of the world by provoking new ideas, experimentation, and creative strategies. We know that things get interesting when disciplines rub up against each other. To be continued… ANNE-CÉCILE WORMS
Shu Lea Cheang, Baby Work, 2012.
FURTHER INFORMATION: < www.zero1biennial.org >
(1) www.streamingmuseum.org (2) www.wired.com/beyond_the_beyond/2012/04/ an-essay-on-the-new-aesthetic
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DIGITAL NANTES As a mainstream event, open to its city and friendly with all sorts of electronic music, the SCOPITONE festival continues to popularize digitals arts through widely diverse installations and its new Stereolux venue. © PHOTOS COLLECTIF BELLAVIEZA / R.R.
While various venues were chosen for their musical and festive qualities (Le Stakhanov, Le Ferrailleur, Le Pôle Etudiant, La Friche Electro), symbolic cultural venues were also foregrounded, such as Le Lieu Unique, which hosted Japanese artist Ryoichi Kurokawa’s newest work. Discarding the traditional triptych format, Mol consisted of a holographic projection on two plexiglass surfaces. Although staging a piece with optical illusions and mirrors was new to the artist, the artwork remained loyal to his rough and synesthetic interactions between images and sounds.
Mol, Ryoichi Kurokawa.
FURTHER INFORMATION: < www.scopitone.org >
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Visitors of the Château des Ducs de Bretagne usually expect to see medieval tapestries and suits of armor rather than digital installations. During the week of Scopitone, however, this Nantes landmark offered the public two of the latter: spectacular artworks that people could admire and experience. Illustrated by Ulf Langheinrich’s detailed, trembling sounds, South Korean artist HeeWon Lee’s Infinity II—the reverse waterfall that appears to flow upward, a liquid loop on a giant screen—seemed to capture the timeless character of the Horseshoe Tower. On the ground floor of the Bâtiment du Harnachement, Laurent La Torpille’s installation 13 septembre 1858 offered a three-screen interactive exploration of the Austria steamer, which disappeared off the coast of Newfoundland 150 years ago.
mapping specialist Desaxismundi who are now benefiting from these infrastructures. Besides the festival, comments Cédric Huchet, digital program curator, our perspectives should lead us to develop broader fields of work and discussion. It’s about establishing a true digital platform. This year, several Scopitone initiatives went in this direction. An encounter between companies and artists brought up, among other topics, regenerated creativity in companies associated with digital arts, for example, Samuel Bianchini’s interactive installation Valeurs Croisées, produced during an external research contract with Orange Labs, a global network of research centers initiated by Groupe France Telecom Orange. The theme of Art and Robotics was featured in a lecture presenting contemporary issues surrounding the human-robot relationship and certain induced social learning experiences (for example, through the functions of the NAO robot), as well as in a workshop hosted by American artist Jason Cook, who is also responsible for Digitalarti’s Artlab. Cook presented his recent work Touch Sensitive, a feathered sculpture manipulated in real time by an Arduino-equipped glove.
Sensible 1.0, Bram Snijders + collectif Deframe.
Stereolux, creative platform for media art
If Scopitone always enjoys being spread out over several venues, the festival now has a dedicated space: Stereolux, named after the structure that headlines it, itself part of a “new media” cluster on the edge of the island of Nantes (alongside other venues such as La Fabrique and Trampolino). This research partnership has allowed them to move several activities off site, including residencies, through digital labs that are spearheading the current trend of festivals integrating these technological and artistic platforms into their programs.
As to video mapping, an art that is increasingly grabbing the spotlight through architectural mapping performances popularized by several French artists and collectives (1024 Architecture, Anti VJ), Scopitone seemed to suggest the artists’ desire to return to more intimate, if not minimalist, mapping. Such is the case with Sensible 1.0 by Bram Snijders and the collective Deframe, which maps the human figure in pure lines of body art. Or Re:, by Snijders and Carolien Teunisse, where the mapped projection surface is the video projector itself. The piece reflects upon itself both literally and figuratively: on one hand, very suggestive geometric figures are projected on the mirrors surrounding the installation; on the other, the installation epitomizes technology representing itself.
After Laurent La Torpille this year, it’s Murcof and Simon Gelfus of Anti VJ, as well as YroYto and Transforma—for the long-awaited follow-up to their Asynthome project, Bsynthome—and the augmented-
© PHOTOS COLLECTIF BELLAVIEZA / R.R.
Mécaniques Discursives, Fred Penelle & Yannick Jacquet.
Re :, Bram Snijders & Carolien Teunisse.
In La Friche Electro Alstom, Joanie Lemercier’s Eyjafjallajökull, a double panel angled against the walls and mapped to the contours of the Islandic volcano that paralyzed air traffic last year, re-awakened after its showing at the Mapping Festival in Geneva. Its refined decor used a rather sensual reverse mapping technique, where the painted visual was “augmented” by fleeting veils of light. This poetic finesse could also be found in other pieces, whose artisanal connotations sometimes extended to a smaller scale.
Fred Penelle and Yannick Jacquet’s Mécaniques Discursives juxtaposed wall drawings and digital animated images on the top floor of Stereolux, creating very dadaist collages that were fun to watch and follow.
Despite these more stylized approaches and finer arrangements, many other installations at Scopitone engaged in more massive and immersive formats, in the great tradition of destabilizing pieces by pioneers such as Granular Synthesis and Kurt Hentschläger.
Kristin & Davy McGuire’s more confined miniature multimedia theater piece The Icebook was sensitive on a very small scale. Inside a minuscule room, small groups of visitors watched a short digital fairy tale (in which a princess draws a boy into the forest in order to warm her frozen heart) in the form of a screen-supported pop-up book, whose paper scenery provided the visual backdrops to these tiny embedded sketches.
In this context, the installation Cinétose, created by the Québécois team Projet EVA, won the prize for most oppresive art piece. As an imposing electro-mechanical installation, Cinétose—referring to motion sickness—consisted of large steel plaques suspended from a mobile grid above the audience, which descended upon them menacingly and inflexibly, each plaque vibrating with a din of frenetic percussion. At first, the audience observed this fantastic ballet of restless, resonant tiles with a certain distance, but as the metallic mass came closer, the experience became increasingly claustrophobic. In Montreal, where the piece was presented at the Elektra festival last May, safety regulations authorized the grid to go
Eyjafjallajökull, Joanie Lemercier.
Cinétose, Projet EVA.
down to 1.20 meters above the ground; in Nantes, however, viewers had to lie down to avoid being crushed by a descent culminating at 40 centimeters above ground. This unprecedented performance for all involved—Projet EVA included—proved that the concept of experience and performing improvisation remained all the more relevant in a digital context open to both trending genres and modulating projects. LAURENT CATALA
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EVENTS COMING SOON
>>> SOUND ART. SOUND AS MEDIUM OF FINE ART Exhibition at ZKM Karlsruhe, Germany Until January 6th, 2013 < www.zkm.de > THOMAS ISRAEL, À LA LISIÈRE DU BOIS Exhibition at Galerie Charlot Paris, France Until October 13th < www.galeriecharlot.com > FORM@TS Exhibition at virtual space of Jeu de Paume Paris, France Until October 22nd < http://espacevirtuel.jeudepaume.org > SCHÖFFER IN THE WORLD Exhibition at Institut hongrois Paris, France Until October 25th < www.instituthongrois.fr > LAURENT PERNOD, LE PROCÈS DU SINGE Exhibition at Galerie Odile Ouizeman Paris, France Until October 27th < www.galerieouizeman.com > ZERO1 BIENNIAL San Jose, USA Until December 8th < www.zero1biennial.org > RANDOM INTERNATIONAL, BEFORE THE RAIN CarpentersWorkshopGallery Paris, France Until December 21st < http://carpentersworkshopgallery.com > 32 - digitalarti #11
>>> RAFAEL LOZANO-HEMMER, VOICE ARRAY Exhibition in Bitforms gallery, NY, USA Until October 13th < www.bitforms.com > CASEY REAS, CENTURY Exhibition at galerie [DAM] Berlin, Germany Until November 27th < http://dam-berlin.de > ZIMOUN, WOODWORMS, WOOD, MICROPHONE, SOUND SYSTEM Exhibition at CentQuatre Paris, France Until March 17th < www.104.fr >
>>> ELECTRONI[K] Rennes, France October 8th to 14th < www.electroni-k.org > TEMPS D’IMAGES Paris & Île de France, France October 9th to 21st < www.tempsdimages.eu > ACCÈS(S) Pau, France October 10th to 20th < www.acces-s.org > KONTRASTE Krems, Austria October 12th to 14th < www.kontraste.at >
MUTEK.MX Mexico, Mexico October 1st to 14th < www.mutek.mx >
RIAM Marseille, France October 16th to 27th < www.riam.info >
SERENDIP Paris, France October 5th to 14th < www.serendip-arts.org >
MAL AU PIXEL Paris, France October 26th to December 8th < www.malaupixel.org >
FANTASTIC Lille, France October 6th to January 13th < www.fantastic2012.com >
MUNTADAS, BETWEEN / ENTRE Exhibition in Jeu de Paume, Paris, France October 16th to January 20th < www.jeudepaume.org >
NOVELA 2012 Toulouse, France October 6th to 20th < http://bellegarde.toulouse.fr >
GAMERZ Aix-en-Provence, France October 19th to 28th < www.festival-gamerz.com >
NEMO FESTIVAL Paris, France November 27th to december 16th < www.arcadi.fr >
3D PRINTSHOW London, UK October 19th to 21st < http://3dprintshow.com >
ELEVATE Graz, Austria October 24th to 28th < http://2012.elevate.at >
M!RA Barcelona, Spain November 10th < http://www.mirabcn.cat >
LAB.30 Augsburg, Germany October 25th to 30th < www.lab30.de >
FESTIVAL OFNI Poitiers, France November 14th to 18th < www.ofni.biz >
SHIFT Basel, Switzerland October 25th to 30th < www.shiftfestival.ch >
CYNETART Dresde, Germany November 15th to 21st < www.cynetart.de >
SHARE FESTIVAL Torino, Italy October 30th to November 11th < www.toshare.it >
MEDIA ARCHITECTURE BIENNALE Aarhus, Denmark November 15th to 17th < www.mediaarchitecture.org >
ICELAND AIRWAVES Reykjavík, Island October 31st to November 4th < http://icelandairwaves.is >
AAF, AUDIO ART FESTIVAL Krakow, Poland November 16th to 25th < www.audio.art.pl >
LES INSTANTS VIDÉOS Marseille, France November 6th to 17th < www.instantsvideo.com >
PIKSEL[X] Bergen, Norway November 22nd to 25th < www.piksel.no
RENCONTRE DES ARTS NUMÉRIQUES, ÉLECTRONIQUES ET MÉDIATIQUES Le Vigan, France December 7th to 15th < www.oudeis.fr >
FESTIVAL HTMLLES 10 Montreal, Canada November 10th to 18th < www.htmlles.net >
CYBERFEST St Petersburg, Russia November 23rd to 28th < http://cylandfest.com >
IXEM Palerma, Italy December 8th to 9th < www.ixem.it >
SIGGRAPH Singapore November 28th to december 1st < www.siggraph.org > RENCONTRES INTERNATIONALES PARIS / BERLIN / MADRID Paris, France < www.art-action.org > CITY SONIC Mons, Brussels, Belgium August 31st to September 15th < www.citysonics.be > CLOCKENFLAP Hong Kong, China December 1st & 2nd < www.clockenflap.com > LAB[AU], S/N & BINARY WAVES Exhibition at Ososphère, Strasbourg, France From December 6th to 18th < www.ososphere.org >
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