Posts Tagged ‘haunted’
Projection mapping is an evolving artform that so far has been mostly an insider phenomenon within the VJing and electronic festival scene, in spite of roots in the longstanding medium of theatrical design and the growing number of competitions and conferences that are dedicated to it (one the most prestigious being the annual Mapping Festival in Geneva). It is frequently paired with DJ acts or used as a promotional gimmick for slick ad campaigns. The medium achieves aesthetic effects, however, whose innovation and significance have not yet been adequately critically adressed. What is the future of projection mapping’s cultural impact? With its knack for transforming irregular surfaces into surreal architectures, it speaks to a new vision of urbanism and the city, as a polymorphous and playful space justified by its spectacular ambiance as much as by its functional value. If we imagine a daily life framed by these dynamic monumental sculptures, what different kinds of cognitive and emotional sensibilities will we see emerging?
Tony Oursler is a contemporary example of the type of technologist-entertainers art historian Barbara Stafford calls “technomancers”, scientifically informed thaumaturges that use digital effects to produce heightened sensorial experiences that bring the visitor to the brink of the spiritually bizarre. A wonderland of spectral apparitions, Oursler’s work is where garden meets cutting edge projection trickery, using sculpture as an animated surface, thrusting dimensional color in the dark space of the gallery. Under the guise of avant garde multimedia, eminently contemporary, art, Oursler’s work most closely resembles the 18th century phantasmagoria shows of Jean-Gaspard Robertson, who awed post-Revolutionary Paris with his elaborate magic lantern technology, projecting the wispy ghosts of guillotined aristocrats onto mirrors and smoke in the ruins of a convent, showcased by a performance that incorporated newly discovered electrical effects and a “magical” ritual inspired by the ancient Eleusinian Mysteries. Oursler’s installations are less interactive, but demonstrate the same fascination with the spectral transformation and deformation of the human form: bubble heads with giant eyes and mouth, decapitated talking heads, heads wreathed in vapours, flickering lights.
In the vein of (immobile) light and space artists from earlier decades such as Dan Flavin or Robert Irwin, Licht makes sculpture from light and shadow. One can imagine an interactive variant where the play of bright, dim and dark is crowd-sourced by an online community, or algorithmically indexed to sensor information measuring the trajectories or body data of the visitors. Or offering a counterpoint to the natural time outside. In any case, presenting new expressive possibilities for data visualization.
Me posing in front of the set I designed for a viral video to promote Fox’s “Rise of Planet of the Apes”, coming out in August, directed by fellow USC Cinema student Thenmozhi Soundararajan. I created some scientific animations and projected them on three layers of scrims, to produce a 3D effect without the stereo. The whole thing is supposed to represent a TED talk from the future. The melty shape to the left is a brain. Awesomely, the fabric we used – voile – added a shimmery grain to what is otherwise an ordinary digital-looking 3D model…
Will be projecting 3D animation on a tower at Rhythm and Visions, a live cinema event featuring audiovisual collective D-Fuse
I will be projecting Nano Flow on the tower of USC’s School of Cinematic Arts building, a stereoscopic 3D animation visualizing a flow of nanobots as hybrids between machines, jewels and single cell organisms. The event will also feature audiovisual collective D-Fuse, artists, VJs and DJs Scott Pagano, Brian King, Trifonic, Brian LeBarton and MB Gordy.
The box will be covered in rich (probably pink, as you might have guessed) fabric and the video projected will be in stereo! The project hopefully should be finished by Xmas…
DIY video reaches new heights: space footage recorded and retrieved with a camcorder, a iPhone and GPS equipment encassed in foam by kid and his dad
I think I’ve never identified so strongly with technology as when that tiny dinky camera contraption reached space, had the balloon burst in its face and started falling back to earth. I am reminded of the part in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy when, through the mechanism of the “improbability drive”, a whale suddenly materializes above a planet and then goes through an inner monologue of existential questions as he plummets to the surface. In this case, however, the brave little device survived, bearing the 1rst person view/memory if not the consciousness of an unimaginable experience.
Singer’s documentary Dark Days about the homeless men and women living in an abandoned section of the New York subway in the 90s has the stark, stunning beauty of flashlights and engulfing shadows passing over shards of human life, sheds, garbage and rats, tagged walls, camping stoves and personalities defined by grit, humor, horror and a trace of romanticism.
Shot single-handedly by Singer, who lived for two years with his subjects – who also by default constituted the film’s crew – Dark Days is a document of life in black in white, where the bleakness and harshness of this world of shadows can also take on the stillness and possibility of a womb, a thread of existence shot through with pain but also with unknowns, flickering like the trains that repeatedly interrupt the film.
Thinking about “Public Interactives” implies thinking about interactivity as an activity that occurs preeminently in space, and more specifically, in a locale.
Ludologists tend to understand interactivity as a product of systems, an interlocking mechanism of a series of actions performed by the player in response to a set of rules, whether these are the implicit logic of a game of tag or the constraints built into the virtual environment of World of Warcraft. Rules constitute both allowances and boundaries. They channel a flow of movement that keeps the game in motion, but that also demarcates possible actions from impossible ones. This flow has been characterized as the feeling of irrepressible rightness that sometimes accompanies the accomplishment of procedure (Salen and Zimmerman, 2004); “ludos”, to reprise Roger Caillois’s term for this type of rule-based play, is always spatially and temporally choreographed.
Interactive systems also seem to work best when they strike a sort of golden mean with the player: neither too difficult (which would lead to frustration) nor too predictable (which would lead to boredom). Interestingly, frustration and boredom are emotions that express stasis: they are stoppers of flow, they end the interaction. Emotional momentum, on the other hand, sustains play, and expresses itself in a feeling of elation, control, expectation, curiosity.
Not coincidentally, many games, including digital ones, place momentum at the core of their gameplay – whether kicking a ball across a field in soccer or sliding down a series of icy chutes in Mario. The emotional consequences of physical or virtual movement initiate a feedback loop that is self-sustaining, while the player’s struggle for control gives a shape or a purpose to this experience of free motion, thus prolonging it. In this perspective, the systems-oriented view of games is already a view that places kinetics – the study of “bodies in motion” – at the center of the definition of interactivity.
Kinetics is about ambulation: movement through space. Systems and spaces are surprisingly symmetrical concepts that allow different kinds of metaphorical transformations into each other; the popularity of using architectural terms to define software structure testifies to this.
Systems are defined by an operational terrain constituted by logical connectors that set up the permissibility of certain actions as opposed to others. Actions are open or closed depending on coextensive conditions articulated in discrete statements. In a similar way, spaces are built out of jointed negative and positive spaces that permit or restrict passage. Space has its own logical statements in connectors such as corridors, bridges, paths, conditional spaces such as balconies, mezzanines and rooftops, logic gates such as doors and windows. This makes the kinetics of a system and the kinetics of space strikingly similar.
Moreover, for the player / ambulator, navigation requires a certain prescience or foreknowledge about the system or space’s hidden topology. In negotiating a system a player struggles to acquire a degree of foresight in order to map out subsequent moves and plan ahead; correspondingly, the visitor of a space finds the view equally revealed and obstructed by her own singular perspective. Game studies scholar and designer Steffen P. Walz points to the interactivity inherent in spatial experience – an experience of point of view and obscured typology – in his discussion of architectural kinetics: “The way we move through a designed environment is responsible for our expectations of that environment. Thanks to material and immaterial emphases and the ordering of interior and exterior space, movement affects, shocks or surprises us, reveals secrets, and most importantly, asks us to actively participate in a space intellectually, physically, and relationally” (Walz 2010:30).
Bumblephone is a design for a large scale interactive installation. Collaborators: Lauren Fenton, Joshua McVeigh-Schultz, Veronica Paredes, Gabriel Peters-Lazaro, and Laila Sakr. It was originally proposed for IndieCade’s Temporary Installation 2010 in Culver City.
In Bumblephone participants speak to each other through giant phonograph-shaped flower pods, triggering a mischievous aural remix that blends their intimate interactions with the ghostly sounds of cinematic and videogame history. Composed of four fluted canopies that hang from a central stalk, the piece is designed to evoke experiences of intimacy, memory, and a playful rearrangement of history. Visitors can whisper to one another through tube-like apparatuses that resemble the reproductive organs of a flower.
When someone speaks into one of the tubes, the “organism” interjects by echoing back the participant’s words and mixing real-time communication between visitors with sound segments composed of memorable lines, refrains, sound effects, and dialogues culled from histories of cinema and video games. In massaging these soundtracks into a dialogue with its visitors, Bumblephone gives rise to delightful surprises, stimulating confusions, and uncanny presences. By designing these flower-shaped objects to be suggestive of multiple forms — a camera, a projector, a telephone, a phonograph-horn, and an interactive organism — we encourage visitors to think about the ways that various technologies tend to absorb and respond to one another.
We will assemble the frame of this evocative structure using aluminum tubing for the supportive structure and lighter PVC and wire for the sound flowers. A central pole will be secured by four tension cables, supporting a hollow aluminum platform, in which a laptop and a mixer will be housed. A hollow aluminum ring circles the platform, connecting the two curved aluminum tubes that serve both as support for the flowers and carriers of sound from flower to flower. Visitors speak into a microphone that amplifies the sound within the tubes and also records their speech, prompting the Voce speech recognition platform to decode participants’ utterances — looking for keyword matches within a library of lines from noteworthy films. A positive recognition will trigger a Processing program to playback sound from these particular filmic moments. In addition, sound recognition sensors will trigger the Processing program to translate the participants’ voices into sound effects from a library that includes classic video game sounds.
The sound flowers themselves will be assembled using thick copper wire sheather in clear colored PVC tubing, while their decorative buds/stems that link them to the aluminum structure will be composed of molded PVC. To make them sound proof, clear vinyl upholstery fabric will cover the flowers’ wireframe.
The obscure Renaissance scholar Athanasius Kircher’s fabulous system of magnetic divination: “The World is Tied with Secret Knots”
Hidden in sun-drenched Culver City, The Museum of Jurassic Technology is a hoax, an art installation of intimate and metaphysical magnitude, a labyrinth for the scholastic imagination and anything else you can dream of or wish for. Founded by the enigmatic David Hildebrand Wilson in 1989, susbequent recipient of a Mac Arthur “Genius” Grant in 2001 for this puzzling and original endeavour, the Museum is a cabinet of curiosities that tantalizingly frames tidbits of historical minutiae in a fabulous context, very much in the spirit of Mark Z. Danielewski’s legendary House of Leaves, also an ironic mise en abime of scholarly critique folded into an impossible (alhough imaginary) geometric space. Minuscule steroscopic projections visible through copper-articulated glass plates, documentary films with convoluted mystical narratives, whimsically lit diaoramas and glowing orbs: such is that place of perfect delight and incomprehension, the Museum of Jurassic Technology
The micromosaics of Harald Henry Dalton, visible only through a microscope
from the exhibit Lives of Perfect Creatures: Dogs of the Soviet Space Program
from the exhibit Garden of Eden on Wheels: Collections from Los Angeles Areas Mobile Parks
from the exhibit Rotten Luck: The Decaying Dice of Ricky Jay
This two-channel installation piece examines the friction between texture and violence to bring us closer to the felt idea of flesh. The piece intends to question the relationship between affect and materiality, as well as the psychological economy of desire, destruction, and consumption by simultaneously making the viewer feel uncomfortable and viscerally involved.
A TV monitor presents us with a video of a hand performing different types of incisions using sharp and blunt metal instruments into a large array of materials. The monitor is covered with a loose “tent” of plastic sheeting, allowing the visitor a mysterious view of the video content through the blurring, glowing screen of the semi-transparent material. To get a closer look, the viewer has to unzip the tent’s opening and insert her head into an intimate space shared by the monitor.
The video is a loop of shot after shot of various texturally ambiguous materials or objects being clinically laid out on a chrome table while a hand, alternately gloved in vinyl or rubber gloves discovers the many methods by which each material can be cut up, destroyed, and divided and the specific instruments that do the job in the most satisfying or interesting way.
INCISION is preceded by a tactile prodding of the object followed by the MORCELLATION, FRAGMENTATION OF THE MATERIAL INTO ITS CONSTITUENT FORMS (filaments, bits, crumbs, slivers).The act of cutting can be smooth, swift : sensation of liberation, closure mixed with disquiet of violent end. The act of cutting can be difficult, messy, awkward: sensation of squeamish frustration. The viewer witnesses a Progression in the act of cutting: colorful liquid starts to OOZE out of the harmed materials (recalling old blood or water, displaying a viscous quality)
The second channel of the installation is rear projected onto a sheet of the same semi-transparent plastic wrapping that covered the monitor. The projection is a looping video of luridly colored organic textures (e.g. close-up of a beating heart, a time-lapse of growing mold). The video is processed into anaglyphic images to produce a stereoscopic effect, visible to the visitor with 3D glasses.
Thater’s work in the past has focused on recreating abstracted immersive environments, using angled projections to transform the geometry of a space, often featuring the animal kingdom:
Diana Thater, Broken Circle, 2001
Diana Thater’s two channel installation Between Magic and Science deconstructs the magic metaphor that drives the myth of cinema and the cinematic apparatus. Not unlike an Andy Warhol film (Sleep, specifically), Thater offers the visitor the casual and yet involving spectacle of a continuous/reiterated gesture. In Thater’s piece, a magician keeps pulling a rabbit out of a top hat, an old cliché circulated in popular culture (including film and animation) that has become something of a symbol or archetype for the magic trick. In the first channel, Thater both dissimulates and exposes the magic trick by promenading the camera around the magician, an investigative motion that, however, repeatedly reveals nothing about how the trick is accomplished. In the second channel, the camera is static and records a “conventional” framing of the action, a tripod shot that references the illusory powers of cinema and its ability to create alternate realities out of “tricks” such as performance, production design, and montage. Both channels are commenting on the different persona or functions of the cinematic apparatus – the phenomenological or documentary camera (reminding us of Dziga Vertov’s kino-eye) and the camera of optical illusions and technological marvels, a device that traces its lineage to magic lanterns and the kinetoscope.
Diana Thater, Knots + Surfaces, 2001
The dramatization of this mise en abime goes deeper than these two asymmetrical mirrorings of the same action, however, since both channels are not projected in the installation space but inside an old Los Angeles theater, which is the footage actually projected for the visitors. Thater seems to be commenting on the layers of imaginary space that constitute the frame or screen of the cinematic mirage – just as the revolving camera is unable to unveil the mechanism or deception of the magician’s trick, so does Thater’s stitching together of the spaces represented in her two-channel piece appear seamless and opaque, hiding the layers of artifice within the totalizing control of the production.
Diana Thater, Between Magic and Science, 2010
And here, perhaps, Thater’s metaphor is too neatly tied up or packaged: the fact that her installation appears so convincingly to be a simple totality, in spite of the complex orchestration of its production, does not offer us a substantial or effective enough experience of the mise en abime she is representing in the piece. The work is more in the story about the work (including the thrilling tale of Thater’s acquaintance with a secret club of Los Angeles magicians) than the work itself, which makes the actual gallery experience a little anti-climactic compared to the curator’s introduction.
Responsive Architecture: in Dune, the space (a subway tunnel) is reconfigured as as an electronic interactive ecosystem, while Hyposurface emphasizes the tactile by creating liquid skin for façades much like the Vigo effect in Ghostbusters (when a depicted character looms out its painting). Call it ambient interactivity – there is a debate about whether an intelligent agent must be making decisions in order to qualify a system as interactive. But picking up on the presence, mood and sociality patterns of a crowd can offer a powerful aesthetic and relational experience. The wish fulfillment involved in the ability of objects, surfaces, and structure – the inanimate skeleton of urban life – to react and speak back to you in GESTURAL, non-verbal fashion is a ancient conceit. When inanimate objects respond, their human co-inhabitants start to experiment with different ways of relating to each other.
note to self: when thinking about video art and projection techniques, think SMALL
using techniques pioneered by the imagineers for their Haunted Mansion ride? a real breakdown of the virtual/material barrier, we enter a liminal zone where the virtual animates objects, ensouling them…
Oursler began working with small LCD video projectors in 1991 in his installation “The Watching” presented at Documenta 9, featuring his first video doll and dummy. This work utilizes handmade soft cloth figures combined with expressive faces animated by video projection. Oursler then produced a series of installations that combined found objects and video projections. “Judy”, 1993, explored the relationship between multiple personality disorder and mass media. “Get Away II” features a passive/aggressive projected figure wedged under a mattress that confronts the viewer with blunt direct address. Oursler’s works seem like animate effigies in their own psychological space, often appearing to interact directly with the viewer’s sense of empathy. These installations are consistently disturbing and fascinating and lead to great popular and critical acclaim.
Signature works have been his talking lights, such as Streetlight (1997), his series of video sculptures of eyes with television screens reflected in the pupils, and ominous talking heads such as Composite Still Life (1999). An installation called Optics (1999) examines the polarity between dark and light in the history of the camera obscura. In his text “Time Stream”, Oursler proposed that architecture and moving image installation have been forever linked by the camera obscura noting that cave dwellers observed the world as projections via peep holes. Oursler’s interest in the ephemeral history of the virtual image lead to large scale public projects and permanent installations by 2000.
The Public Art Fund and Art Angel commissioned the “Influence Machine” in 2000. This installation marks the artist’s first major outdoor project and thematically traced the development of successive communication devices from the telegraph to the personal computer as a means of speaking with the dead. Oursler used smoke, trees and buildings as projection screens in Madison Park NYC and Soho Square London. He then completed a number of permanent public projects in Barcelona, New Zealand, Arizona including “Braincast” at the Seattle Public Library. He is scheduled to complete a commission at the Frank Sinatra High School in Astoria New York.
the commentary is priceless…
Using Benedict Anderson’s concept of imagined communities as virtual loci that gather individuals into a common cultural space,Susan Douglas (Listening In) reads radio in terms of its capacity, as a social practice, to uniquely constitute (American) subjectivity. Radio’s most obvious affordance is that it allows people separated in space to listen simultaneously, “to experience that very moment of (their) lives in exactly the same way” (p.24). Douglas argues the new medium gave rise to an unprecedented kind of intersubjective intimacy – a linking of inner worlds that occurred not through a meeting of the minds (radio listeners remain anonymous to each other) but by sharing a common (cultural, technological) platform for fantasy.
Radio listeners are bonded by a specific practice of self: as thousands tune in to the same Top 40 song, they cross over together and for a moment into a temporality different from their distracted, fragmented present and experience time as a (musical) signature, as an embodied flow. For the duration of a song, radio holds out the possibility to a fragmented collectivity to perceive themselves as a unique, flavorful being – the kind of communion achieved is not one that can gather a community (radio listeners are experiencing themselves, very closely, rather than experiencing others) but that produces similar and separated subjectivities. Radio-listening Americans live apart but dream together.
Here Douglas’ concept of “dimensional” listening, as radio’s purported affordance that encourages listeners to generate their own powerful imagery to compensate for the absence of a visual world, enters into play. If other media like cinema, where worlds are “given” to the audience for consumption, constitute a vault of imaginary material, then radio trains the subject in the practice of a specific type of imagination, setting up the scaffolding for an inner space that we can freely populate. To “develop an ear for radio” means to gain access to “a repertoire of listening styles and emotional responses”, to be attuned to different inner worlds that we can switch on or off (in this sense, prefiguring the advent of portable music players as mood-regulating devices). In the 20s before regular programming this might mean tuning in to imagine a ionospheric topology projected from the disparate stations the ham could reel in; in the 30s it could mean regularly conjuring the presence of an entire cast of fictional characters from a soap drama. Douglas argues that in exploring the “spaces” of sound – by promenading our consciousness through the rippling folds of rhythm or timbre in music, by stalking the unfolding story of a voice – we are really spelunking in our own depths.
The term “training” characterizes the kind of self-building radio enables in the sense that listeners (according to Douglas) become emotionally attached to broadcast material, especially if they hear it repeatedly: “the more we listen to certain kinds of music, the more we learn to like it.” (p. 32) – in a quite neurological way, Top 40 songs imprint themselves on our mind, giving shape to our subjectivity. This emotional sculpting modifies the listener’s sense of time in significant ways. Radio creates privileged temporal moments for the listener, a more intense experience of the present that accompanies the listener’s exploration of their inner space. Over the course of a life, these privileged moments call to and ricochet off one another – mental states or moods jump across one’s temporality, seeding the self with fragments of past incarnations, reliquary fantasies. Douglas emphasizes that radio almost from the beginning was marked by nostalgia, by the longing for a disappeared moment that a broadcast song could briefly bring back into the present. In this sense dimensional listening is not dissociable from another term Douglas uses, “associational” listening, or the forging of correspondences between the flow of our lives and the soundtrack that accompanies it, meaning that daily routines – e.g. doing laundry while listening to a jazz tune on the radio – are dyed with the color of a sound that can make an initially undifferentiated slice of everydayness remarkable. This quality in radio emerges from its difference from the gramophone as a listening practice – the fact that radio temporally mapped out a listener’s day (starting with regular programming) with scheduled sound. As manufactured sound and especially music became ambient (as consequence of ubiquity) they started exercising an unprecedented level of influence on people’s lives.
Douglas also investigates the fascinating history of the beginnings of radio and the social significance accorded the new technology at its inception, particularly around the relationship between radio and a collective desire for the existence of a tangible spiritual dimension, a longing for the unchartered and unknown that characterized both radio’s marketing as a mechanical “medium” (a notion that interestingly recontextualizes media in terms of spiritism) and the practice of DXing. Radio uncannily symbolized, more than the phonograph which was an inscription device, the utopian possibilities of technology as interface between different ontological realms, as a transducer that could allow for communication between what was previously considered incommensurable: the living and the dead, humanity and the extraterrestrial, invisible world of the airwaves, two individuals separated by vast distances. Douglas points out that in endowing radio with this mystique Americans were engaging in a search for meaningful connection, a sense of existential and communal belonging that, at least in the collective Western imaginary, had been lost in the turn to mechanized, serialized, fragmented modern life. DXers, poetically dubbed “distance fiends”, developed a form of radio practice that engaged the technology not only as a commodity fetish but also as, literally, a medium, a means of accessing different possibilities of signification through the exploratory use of the technology’s affordances. Before the more commoditized modes of dimensional and associational listening, tuning in to the radio was also a game played across the virtual landscape of the airwaves as DXers would fish for the disembodied voices that stood in for real-world localities.
Douglas’ discussion of DXing as a poetic practice weaves into her general investigation of radio not only as a locus for a cultural imaginary but as a technology that crucially enables imagination – which raises questions as to how other sound technologies have been and might be imaginatively used. If the commodity-use of the record, the tape, the MP3 player have trained us to meaningfully experience sound in certain ways that have constituted our subjectivities according to certain common cultural (capitalist) patterns, then what other cultures (and other subjectivities) with potential to challenge or re-organize capitalism emerge as a result of exploratory, imaginative use? Radio leads us into a consideration of contemporary countercultural (but also massively embraced!) practices around sound technology, namely DJ and remix culture…