September 25, 2009
After The Net (2.0)

Tonight as part of After The Net a series of events taking place across three countries, After The Net (2.0) the second in the series in Plymouth will host a performance by Aymeric Mansoux.

The exhibition part of this event is already up and running since the 12th of September and will run until the 23rd of October however the lecture on the 22nd of October Transiting the Net by Professor Roy Ascott will without a doubt be the highlight of this iteration. The following is a quote from the After The Net site about the lecture:

Cybernetics and behaviour, mind and technology, connectivity and syncretism, chance and change, constitute the parameters of practice of Roy Ascott, whose talk will chart his passage through the Net, from analogue to digital and beyond. Ascott has exhibited widely, from Venice Biennale to Ars Electronica, is published in at least twelve languages, and recognised internationally as an innovator and visionary. He is president of the Planetary Collegium at University of Plymouth.

I’m hoping to be able to attend this so will post an entry here after the event.

Event originally seen on the GOTO10 mailinglist.

Posted by: Garrett @ 7:18 pm
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September 22, 2009
Steam Powered Internet Machine

The Steam Powered Internet Machine (image above) by Jeremy Deller, not at all similar in concept to The Incredible Internet Flying Machine but I find it interesting that both think in a way of the internet as a machine, they objectify it – if nothing more than implied in the title. Ok so this is deviating a little from the purpose of this work. I lived in Kent at the time this was made and didn’t think much of it apart from the slightly amusing juxtaposition of ideas/timesframes/technologies which far too much contemporary art relies on as a gimmick but the title of the work has so much more potential.

This idea of the internet / network as a machine or more broadly software, connected artificial intelligence etc. crops up everywhere and is curious in its inaccuracy. In science-fiction it’s employed to carry on a trend of man vs. machine and so can be traced back through obvious examples such as Frankenstein, The Golem etc. Examples include: The Terminator films; Skynet, turns out to be software protected by physical machines, The Matrix; the matrix itself, similar to The Terminator is software protected by machines, The Machine Stops; the global machine which tends to all of the needs of the human race, 1984; here the state itself is a pervasive all-seeing, all-knowing machine (so the metaphor has more depth to it). In popular culture there is the misconception / joke that the internet can be switched off and so on.

Why do need to objectify the network in this way? Metaphor allows us to form an understanding of complex topics and in this instance one that is intangible. Machines are visible and have been with us for a long time now. They are foreign almost alien to us and suggest greater strength, speed, accuracy and maybe one day intelligence and so can be suggested to pose a threat. More obvious and accurate metaphors of the network, such as the network as a virus, would be more useful but that metaphor in a way substitutes like for like – it too is ‘invisible’ and does not allow us to understand.

Posted by: Garrett @ 5:28 pm
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September 16, 2009
The Incredible Internet Flying Machine

As a last addition (for a while) to the series of posts on breath or wind controlled work (see the latest of these, InfoBreath, Twilight, Breath, Blow Up & Breeze Reflection) I stumbled across The Incredible Internet Flying Machine (image above, video below) by Allen Meyer. The work:

dynamically loads images tagged sky from Wind inputs are generated using a common household blow-dryer and processed via an Arduino micro-controller and displayed in a Flash application running action script3. Feel the wind in your hair as you fly through the sky via images uploaded just minutes ago from around the world.

While obviously a lighthearted piece it does follow a particular trend in new media to exploit internet service API’s (Flickr, Googlemaps, Twitter etc.) in combination with, in addition or in relation to other parts within the work to create a mash-up. It would be nice to see the work without the blow-dryer (a little odd) ether installed indoors as a breath controlled piece or outdoors as a wind activated piece.

Posted by: Garrett @ 7:13 pm
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September 13, 2009
Silent Barrage

Silent Barrage is an robotic installation produced by SymbioticA, The Centre of Excellence in Biological Arts at The School of Anatomy & Human Biology, University of Western Australia. The work aims to connect visitors to cultured nerve cells through an architectural/sculptural context, allowing users to connect and ‘see’ microscopic worlds and in turn those microscopic worlds to have an influence within our macroscopic world.

Each pole in the arrangement represents a region in the culture dish, and the movements of the individual robots correspond to the level of activity in the area. The robots markings on the poles hint to the continuous neuronal activity, conjuring traces of “memories” of past actions. The movement of audience in the Silent Barrage’s space is used to stimulate the culture. Nerve cells activity usually happens when a certain combination of stimulations reaches a threshold; the same can be said about our decision making. The navigation through Silent Barrage is made out of a series of incremental decisions made in an overly stimulated environment, out of the context of daily life. The nerve cells are also out of context, removed from the brain they once belong to, they are cultured in an artificial environment, trying to make connections with the cells around them. The barrage of activity is a symptom, can pairing cells and the audience can help make “meaningful” connections that will quieten the barrage? Can it happen in a place which is nothing but quiet?

While clearly an ambitious and admirable work, it does make some dubious claims such as being “One of the very few real art and science works” when there are quite a few spanning various combinations of the arts and sciences (in this area alone Edwardo Kac and Ken Rinaldo have been prolifically producing work for years).

Originally seen at VVork.

Posted by: Garrett @ 7:49 pm
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September 10, 2009
Bruit Rose

Bruit Rose (image above, video below) by HeHe is another light based connected installation, similar in that respect to Twilight, however this time specifically for an outdoor urban environment. The work re-purposes a street light box normally used for advertising.

The normal operation of the advertising panel is inverted, so that it becomes a receiver, reflecting what is happening in the immediate environment. Bruit rose (Pink noise in English) is a musical term that describes a random noise across all sound frequencies which is aesthetic for the human ear. The work visualises the ambient sounds in the environment as well [sic] sounds made by passers-by.

The use of the term “reflecting” is highly appropriate here. Designed with a highly reflective panel, the panel literally becomes a mirror of it’s environment reflecting it’s ‘real’ visual surroundings as well as visualising and reflecting it’s ‘virtual’ sound information.

Aesthetically similar work includes Tatsuo Miyajima who has been using LED numbers in his work for numerous years.

Posted by: Garrett @ 6:06 pm
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