Posts Tagged ‘uncanny’
This is the new jellyfish and insect inspired design for the Polyangylene robots! They use a hexapod chassis base and an Arduino microcontroller. The glowy letters are shaped with el-wire, a beautiful, flexible material that gives you neon without the expensive glass-blowing part. The bots navigate their environment thanks to two ultrasonic sensors and communicate with participants through a microphone and flex sensors hidden in their feather/tentacle neck ruff. They communicate with each other through Xbee radio signals. These bots also have a fondness for synchronized dance moves…
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.
take out your anaglyph glasses to view this in its full stereoscopic glory!
I did the art and sound for the game Gravity Cubes, with Matt Morris and Jason Mathias. Ours is the eerie world of semi-transparent cubes in which the gravity switches on the player every 30s. The game was realized in Unity and is the result of experimenting with what constitutes a compelling 3D space – it turns out transparency and reflections are particularly evocative in stereo, as the viewer receives a rich impression of the multiple layers of objects positioned at different depths.
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.
Is it candy, jewels, or blood? Skin, froth, mother of pearl, or cream? eyes deadened by narcotics, faces decomposing and yet fluffy with sweet, fresh flesh. Michael Hussar puts the texture back in the visual art, using impressionist techniques to create nauseating and irresistible allegories of desire, decay and sugar. Lovably tactile: sticky, soft, smooth, liquid, ticklish,and with the occasionally sharp claw or tooth to remind us of pain.
David Maisles, History’s Shadow (x-rays of antique sculptures from museum archives)
John Divola, Generic Sculpture E and Silhouette C
What emanates from the incongrous presence of a foregrounded object? The face of the object clicks and jars with the body of the background. Color as a personality trait. The Inanimate and its soul – as in spirit photography, the dead body is handed a half-presence (silhouette, smoky) more potent than the Living. The cadaver / the object as a Fetish, a mischevious indexical relationship to Human Matters.
from David Rokeby’s article The Construction of Experience: Interface as Content (1998):
In a similar vein, it’s important to understand the difference between “fractal” complexity and the complexity of life experience. Fractals are fascinating because a rich variety of forms are generated by a single, often simple algorithm. The endless and endlessly different structures of the Mandelbrot set are generated by a single equation addressed in an unusual way. This relationship between the infinite detail of the fractal and its terse mathematical representation is an extreme example of compression. The compression of images, sound and video into much smaller encoded representations is one of the keys of the current multimedia explosion.
Opposed to the incredibly compressible “complexity” of fractals is the complexity of true randomness. Something can be said to be random if it cannot be expressed by anything less than itself… that is to say, it’s incompressible. This rather philosophical notion can be observed in our everyday on-line communication. To move data around quickly and efficiently, we compress it, then send it through a modem that compresses it further. What is left is the incompressible core of the information. As you can hear through your modem when you dial up your internet service provider, the result sounds close to random noise.
Randomness and noise are usually things we avoid, but in the purely logical space of the computer, randomness and noise have proven to be welcome and necessary to break the deadly predictability. But random number generators, used so often to add “human” spice to computer games and computer-generated graphics are not “random” at all. They merely repeats over a fairly long period?a sterile simulation of the real thing.
…In designing environments for experience, we must remain humble in the face of the power of irresolvable, non-fractal complexity. The computer is an almost pure vacuum, devoid of unpredictability. Computer bugs, while annoying, are never actually unpredictable unless this “vacuum” fails, as when the hardware itself overheats or is otherwise physically damaged. This vacuum is extremely useful, but it’s no place to live.
When I started working with interactive systems I saw the “vacuum” of the computer as the biggest challenge. I developed “Very Nervous System” as an attempt to draw as much of the universe’s complexity into the computer as possible. The result is not very useful in the classical sense, but it creates the possibility of experiences which in themselves are useful and thought-provoking, particularly by making directly tangible that what is lost in over-simplification.
from Craig Baldwin’s Sonic Outlaws:
Chris Cunningham’ s Rubber Johnny and Charlie White’s Pink / Ken’s Basement have antithetical color schemes but a telling similitude in their treatment of the human body: plastic, viscous, a texture-map for a psychic sensation beyond horror and judgement – the inmost intimacy of my very own flesh, a warm familiar humilation. There is no shame in revisiting my amorphousness, the dancing meat without skin/border/performed subjectivity. In all 3 cases the subject is utterly alone, blind to or vexed by the outside, bursting with interiority – perhaps a friendly witness or inanimate object observes, thing-like too. Which is why the unameable they propose feels like a return home – it looks monstrous but it feels… appropriate.
From architecture and design magazine website Blueprint:
“Clear transparent tubes feed plumbing pipes with compressed air. These create a chorus of howls and moans. It is sort of like an out of tune harmony but isn’t displeasing, almost like the cry of a stream-train but not intrusive. This is apt for the Roundhouse, as it was built in 1846 as a Steam engine shed. The sounds become a reawakening of the haunts of its previous existence. It gives significance to the user of the building, as if our own experiences and lifetimes within that building become infused into the very make-up of it. This user-building relationship is highlighted by the operation of the installation, where the building only speaks when the user touches the keys of the pump organ to feed it.
If the large, round room is empty when you enter it, the installation is silent. One may feel timid walking to the pump organ, with its yellowy spotlight and the massive room to play to. The words ‘Please Play’ painted on the floor offer some encouragement. Most people are generally shy when playing musical instruments to an audience, but the pump organ cannot make a formal tune: the sound it generates is more like the clunking noises made by old, creaking heating systems in houses. The instrument itself is like an exaggerated version of the solitary church organ, usually played alone because it is only in tune with itself and not with other instruments.” (Elice Catmull, August 2009)
Rosenblatt’s Human Remains situates itself outside the concept of chronology, resurrecting archival material not so much to connect us with our past as to put our historical perspective into play. The chronologically impossible first person voice-over subverts the indexical link between the footage and its source without completely destroying it. As a result, the iconic dictators’ presence, detached from any contextual indices by poetic montage, survives in a kind of spectral temporality that is neither the imaginary time of fiction nor the consensual time of history. The documentary’s time is dislocated, strewn over the many origins of its elements: the anonymous footage, sound effects spliced from their visual cause and tacked on the dictators’ steps, voices translating a script into another language and then other voices translating back, as if to trick us into believing these men are speaking in their native language beyond the grave (and to whom?). The implausibility of the film’s epistemological claims is what brings us to the realization that the film is making no such claims – and yet remains a documentary, a work that references the real in order to tell us something about it. Perhaps it is useful to retain the idea of this documentary as a scrapbook or collage, each element referring us to an unverifiable source, the point of a scrapbook being to create a new totality from the juxtaposition of heterogeneous material. In this sense, Human Remains constitutes itself as a meta-archive, applying an associative method to the “exiled” remains of these figures i.e. to their historical representations (from film or critical literature).
This manner of documenting differs substantially from the type of truth-seeking mode of argumentation Nichols refers to or the rhetorically creative presentation of evidence adopted by Grierson. Human Remains’ relationship to the notion of evidence is obscure – Rosenblatt showers us with well-researched anecdotal “evidence” (recycled in the voice-over), but evidence of what? The revelation that these dictators were self-contradictory, peevish, plagued by physical troubles, possessed of bizarre habits, seems secondary. Perhaps more than anything, what emerges from this litany is the mundane, fleshy presence of these men, which, coupled with the ghostly reflections of their faces (Rosenblatt cuts out close-ups from the archival material) manufactures a powerful kind of cognitive dissonance that speaks to the subconscious fear any audience member would be likely to harbor about these figures: that they could come back from the dead.
In this sense, the film provides a form of psychological evidence or testimony by showing us the ways in which the dictators still haunt us: haunt our records, our semiotic matrices, our collective memory. The image of Mao bathing in the Yangtze, the dark blur of his head emerging from the glistening yellowish tint of the archival river is particularly indicative of the film’s project: even when the limitations of the medium keep him at a distance, making him literally unrecognizable, he still produces an absolute effect – an outline, a threat shadowing us.
evolution of in the retelling, the mythologizing, the re-presentation of the inefable: news report from 1974 to the documentary “Man on Wire”
Perhaps the documentary force of this film derives from the fact that it is about such a singular, unique moment – Petit’s 40 minute funambulism between the towers of the World Trade Center. Man on Wire gives us that which should be irretrievable, magicking us into the heart of an act meant to be ephemeral, carried through in order to vanish. We relive the feeling of astonishment we see reflected in the faces of the crowd staring out of the archival footage, their eyes fixed on something they will never see again. Are we touched by our sudden intimacy with a historical event? Only Petit’s act does not seem to participate in history but to stand out, timeless, as a flight into another order of poetic existence that supersedes both the mundane and the collective. The excitement of watching the footage (admirably build up by the filmmaker’s use of the narrative structure of the heist) stems from our witnessing this heart-stopping cessation of time, a more privileged mode of viewing/experience than the opportunity to resurrect the past.
Would Man on Wire be as effective if it were a film rather than a documentary? Apart from the irreplaceable presence of Petit himself, whose voice provides an almost kinetic impulse to the sequentiality of the entire film, a fictional reconstruction of the crucial moment (the wire walking), rather than what we are given, a lingering montage of stills and (frustratingly but concomitantly authentic) distant footage from the ground, would most certainly have broken the spell. After all, the premise of Man on Wire is that it gives us proof of the impossible and therefore accomplishes something of a metaphysical acrobatics itself. What we lose in proximity to the event itself is retrieved in the extensive archival footage of Petit’s rehearsals in the field, surrounded by his accomplices. The time of preparation unlocks the “real thing”, just as the reconstruction of the heist sets us up for the “real thing”, the archival footage, the indexical link to the miraculous.
Playing with the idea of a haunted portrait _ the ghost appears like the absconded presence of the camera, staring out from the double mirror of the photograph. The idea of the dead coyly sitting in on the poised, posed family pictures of the living – unheimlich at it’s most potent, what is buried won’t stay buried but leaves secondary evidence, leaves tangible traces of doubt.
The inappropriate sneaks up behind your back, the camera becomes the eye in the back of your head: new weapon against the uncanny or projector of hidden horrors?
The fake spirits accusing the photographer of fraud – first betrayal of the photographed image’s promise to reproduce reality. William Mumler in the 1860s already destroying the metaphysically automatic/newly automated line between reality and metaphor, conjecture, phantasie. The sought for and unwelcome guests usher these bourgeois families into modernity.
Don’t these apparitions look TRAPPED? Their imprint gelled, their first effort at substantiation caught in the middle. Nothing left to do but appear, put on an appearance without the evidential accoutrement of an indexical relationship…ontologically exiled, phenomenologically virulent. First clue that the photographic apparatus is a creative as well as a reproductive machine: “documentary is the creative treatment of actuality”, according to Grierson and these spirits are products of an indexicality machine, they document the ghostliness of the apparatus, they rise out of the machine, immanent smoke that manufactures a referant for the new photographic sign…