Saturday, 29 September 2012

ISEA 2012

ISEA2012 Machine Wilderness

As contradictory as it sounds to hold a conference/exhibition on ecology in a remote location among the fragile sands of New Mexico,  ISEA12 had an ecological theme "Machine Wilderness". The associated air miles and car use were the unfortunate overheads. Outstanding works included François Quévillon's Derive (video) which visualised weather data embedded in the drawing of a reactive 3D graphic landscape. It was remarkable in its subtle rendering and potential for showing data in intuitive ways.
Other top works included The Hand of Man in Taos, 

The Hand of Man-Christian Ristow
A gigantic hydraulic hand driven by a data glove which was capable of lifting and crushing cards bodily. "The Hand of Man" moving sculpture by Christian Ristow, September 27 through to  30th , in Kit Carson Park is an interactive kinetic sculpture that you can operate. People were able to work with the artist and crew by slipping theirr hand into the sculpture's operation glove - a system that enables the giant sculpture to mimic your movements.  You can pick up cars that will be part of the exhibit, lift them 25 feet up, turn them about, and drop them to the ground! The Hand was designed and built by Ristow, a renowned artist in the field of animatronics. Ristow has been living and working in Taos since 2005, and built The Hand in 2008.  

Teri Rueb, Carmelita Topaha &  Larry Phan: No Places with Names: A Critical Acoustic Archaeology locative wilderness walk has already been blogged here, but Charles Lindsay: CARBONX  Dome piece also at Sante Fe, was another overwhelming experience.
The Sante Fe day included a visit to SITE whose More Real? Art in the Age of Truthiness show was a knock out-albeit not particularly electronic ( In collaboration with the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. The exhibit will be on display until January 6th, 2013.)
Eve Sussman video still from "89 Seconds at Alcázar"Los Meninas


For me the out standing works were artist Inigo Manglano-Ovalle's replica of the chemical-weapon-baring trucks Colin Powell recollected from Iraq. And others focused more heavily on the technological advancements that blurred the line between documentation and reappropriation, such as Eve Sussman's video installation that recreates the scene of Diego Velazquez's "Las Meninas."

50/50 Native Artists in Sa
50/50: Fifty Artists, Fifty Years presented by Museum of Contemporary Native Arts was an overwhelmingly sad experience , with every work reflecting confusion , anger and despair at the native dispossion and the tainting of Indian lands with radioactive fall out from Nuclear tests.

This exposed the contradictory nature of the whole event: sensitive eco-friendly projects addressing the despoiling of the wilderness by man's careless interventions, at the same time endorsing low rider and car-centered cultures in the region, and very little said about the grab for oil, the arctic sea ice melting the move away from nuclear and the terrifying future that global warming will bring. It was not complacent, but seemed far from the European consciousness about the global climate crisis and tthe radical changes needed. 
Steve Storz  Kanobis Amplifier Research Facility
On Taos day the sinister shed by Steve Storz  Kanobis Amplifier Research Facility (KARF) Phase II at the  UNM Klauer Campus in Taos NM, was an outdoor electronic sculpture installation that underlined the complicity of scientists in despoiling this pristine landscape in the name of 'freedom'.
However the focus on building DIY adobe shacks at Taos seemed nice and hippyish, but is not a realistic long-term solution. Engaging with Los Alamos was also a nice idea, but the attitudes revealed at the Sante Fe conference by the artistic director, implied a massive misunderstanding of the role of art:  seeing it only as a way of illustrating existing scientific materials more effectively, rather than as a radical way of completely rethinking methodologies.

The small contribution we made as a team ( Nina Yankowitz, Barry Holden , Martin Rieser, Rasmus Vuiori) was an interactive questionnaire using QR codes to probe the contradictions in people's attitudes to Eco issues. The resulting web database will be used to drive future online interventions using avatar humour to engage a thoughtful response to the crisis.

The main exhibition for ISEA2012 was displayed at a total of seven venues. It is based at both The Albuquerque Museum of Art & History and 516 ARTS, with off-site projects at the following five Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum, the New Mexico Museum of Natural History, the Rainosek Gallery at the UNM School of Architecture & Planning, Richard Levy Gallery and the Alvarado Urban Farm. The exhibition features work that combines art, science and technology, demonstrating the role art can play in re-envisioning the world. The over 100 artists are from 16 countries: Austria, Brazil, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Korea, Mexico, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Scotland, Spain, the U.K. and the USA. The exhibition was juried and curated through an international call for proposals, which drew close to 1,500 submissions from artists and presenters around the globe. The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue published by the acclaimed Radius Books, which will be distributed internationally. 
It was a massive attempt to integrate electronic arts and the ecologic movement and as such deserves praise for both ambition and achievement. 
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Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Secret Garden

Secret Garden
A virtual reality/augmented reality hybrid performance opera/ballet.
 Martin Rieser/ Andrew Hugill

Secret Garden is an attempt to recreate a contemporary version of the Eden myth in the midst of an urban environment. It will be available in two versions –a physical installation and as a virtual mobile experience linked to selected site locations. In its installation aspect, it will comprises eleven mounted iPads acting as viewports distributed around a circle in the Cube gallery at Phoenix Square. Peering into one of the viewports will trigger a view of an idyllic three-dimensional scene in the ‘Secret Garden’ and tell part of the mythical story of the Fall, through words, music and dance. This same content will soon be made available using Augmented Reality software to any visitor with a smartphone.

The Fall story is common to many of the world’s religions, including Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The structure of Secret Garden will be loosely modelled on the ten paths of the Sephirot in the Jewish telling of the story, which is itself also a symbol of the Tree of Life and the oldest extant version. Two contemporary human figures re-enact the story of the Fall, combining sung poetry and video vignettes with 3D generated environments, each scene dis­tributed to a different one of the eleven iPad viewports. The viewer’s presence triggers both music and action.
The texts comprise original poems that tell this classic story in a timeless and relevant way, examining choices in a fallen world. The musical composition is adaptive and features vocal settings and digitally treated percussion. The virtual scenography consists of 3D designs based on an idealised garden space, inspired by the 19th century Mezzotints for Milton’s Paradise Lost by John Martin. Viewing the eleven viewports will gradually assemble the elements of a story in the user’s mind. The story is mysterious and mythical in nature, however, it is not necessary to see the viewports in any particular order, and a partial viewing will also provide a complete experience in itself.
 The installation is a unique virtual reality amalgam of poetry, music, and 3D panoramic images and motion-captured avatars. It plays with sound narrative and myth, transposed into a modern context, using technology both in production and delivery in a synthesised and holistic capacity. Audience movement from viewport to viewport will trigger vocal settings of authored verse  and head movements change the scene perspective in realtime.

The Institute Of Creative Technologies (IOCT) at De Montfort University supported the project. The IOCT specialises in cross-disciplinary working that combines science and technology with the arts and humanities. The project will draw on expertise from the Faculties of Art & Design, Humanities and Technology, including the Fused Media Lab (for the virtual scenography), the Architecture Department (for the physical build of the installation), students on the Games Design degree (for the interactivity) and the Music, Technology and Innovation Research Centre (for the music). Management will be provided by Professor Andrew Hugill (Director of the IOCT) and Professor Martin Rieser (Professor of Digital Creativity), who are the creators of Secret Garden.