Digital Reality and the Perception of Self I

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Designed Reality Experience by Kasia Maria Wozniak/ Space alive! by Erik Conrad/ Art very ordinary by Nina Sosna/ The Dream-Logic of New Media by Cameron Ironside/ Yes / No / Maybe : Sense of Place and the Space in-between by Nedine Kachornnamsong/ Opera & the Cult of the DJ by Justine Poplin
Saturday, 17 September, 2011 - 14:45 - 16:45
Chair Person: 
David Cotterrell
Kasia Wozniak
Erik Conrad
Nina Sosna
Cameron Ironside
Nedine Kachornnamsong
Justine Poplin

Designed Reality Experience

by Kasia Maria Wozniak

This paper will discuss the issues of sensory apparatus creating human reality. On the examples of artists, like James Turrell and Olafur Eliasson, whose artistic practice is deeply anchored in the 20th century understanding of body and its sensual awareness, and who are using ephemeral materials such as space, light and its most subjective derivative, colour, the author is going to deliberate on the phenomenon of design of polysensual artistic experiments inextricably merged into the tissue of reality. In such experiments, human perceptory apparatus is used as a tool for creating certain cognitive imprints, impressions, effects; human senses are medium for creative activities in the permanent, uninterrupted process of reconstitution of subjective view of the world. Reality, in this way, is always subjective and 'belongs' to an individual. Contemporary artistic practice is able to show to what (high) degree our understanding, our perception of reality, is unique to human kind due to the anatomy and physiology of senses (and the way we define them). Consequently, artists by creating sensual experiences, designing sets of art-ificial circumstances, are able to prove that there is a number of realities and they are polyvalent, heterogenic and subjected to artistic creation. Design of reality  emerges. Author will also ponder on the ever-increasing representational and, thus, negotiable status of reality. Furthermore, highlighted will be the ongoing changes in the inherited hierarchical 5-senses order in arts and new approach to sensorium due to emergence of new technologies. The fascinating possibilities opened up by application of new technologies to arts shall also be discussed on example of chosen, recently created new media artworks.

Space alive!

by Erik Conrad

New technologies signal transformations of both individual and cultural consciousness.  Technologies can transform and/or extend our sense of ourselves: a hammer allows me to strike something with force that would otherwise injure my soft flesh; a bicycle allows me to travel much faster and farther than I could on foot with the same energy; writing allows for the transmission of ideas without the presence of my body.  During the transformation of self, a reciprocal transformation of environment occurs.  Material, space, time and energy are transformed as well.  What we believe to be possible co-structures what is possible to be believed.  The complex entanglement between the lived and the imagined makes it difficult to conceive of change.  Established ways of thinking are difficult to break, made no easier by the fact that the foundations on which they rest are often obscured or concealed. 

In a 1977 paper describing experiments with what he termed, “responsive environments,” Myron Krueger states, “The design of such intimate technology is an aesthetic issue as much as an engineering one.  We must recognize this if we are to understand and choose what we become as a result of what we have made.”  The computer is a product of several disciplines (computer science, engineering, etc.) that are built upon certain fundamental assumptions about the world.  I would like to suggest, that this is not the world in which we would like to live.  Computing need not be abandoned, but it may create a richer world if we combine computers with a different set of underlying assumptions.  Here I would like to look at recent advances in science that suggest a different relationship between body–thought–organism–environment, combined with the process philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead, and consider how this new understanding might change the ways in which we live–imagine the present.  This includes how we can use computational media as a tool for thinking in the resultant transformed space.  This new space of thought, everyday “responsive environments,” are no longer conceived of as a intelligent spaces, but space alive.

Art very ordinary

by Nina Sosna

High-tech media production often passes the bounds of human capacity for perception: a stream of circles and sports in Ulf Langheinrich's «Semisphere» (exhibited in Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin, 2008) moves on the spectator and overwhelms him, even in the case of eyes closed; experiments with electronic music from Pierre Henry to Ryoji Ikeda try the threshhold of audibility... Media art including animation has driven to an extreme the sense of tragedy and horror caused by the fact of machine's growing role which is considered to leave less and less place for humans (or, as F. Kittler puts it, media do not have «people» as presupposition for their existence, at all). It proposes a specific «embodiment» of that feeling, like in «The Substance of Earth» by Jin-man Kim (South Korea, 2007). Such works demand a «big narrative» to be their interpretation, and this interpretation has to deal with apocalyptic understanding of technique. But having tested the variaty of expressive forms which became possible with technological development, having come to forms that are hurdly devidable into genres, art seems to now develop less «formal» approach and to come closer and with more accuracy to the intimate in man. It could be characterized in terms of «new sensibility» or «new honesty». It doesn't mean that art is going to be an a-technological nonconformist. Rather, it uses technical means differently so that to create a special space of exchange — between artist and viewer, between «work» itself and conditions that make it visible/audible — a space, medial to them all. These works may not show anything special or quickly eye-catching, they just invite those who come to see or hear them to fell close to someone's activities, to fell in-common.

The Dream-Logic of New Media

by Cameron Ironside

In recent years there has been much interest in the structures of new media artworks and the creative use of databases. Typically, the central argument of this investigation is this: as technology and media change it is the human body that frame these changes, as they extend and interface the human sensorium. This paper will propose, not a counter argument, but an augmented condition: that it is not the body that has framed these changes but consciousness. It was Deleuze who identified that the trauma of World War II led to a profound change in cinema – from a classical movement-image to an “irrational” time-image that reflected an increasing subjective sense of the world. Within the time-image he identified an onirosign, a dream-image, which is characterised by: ‘visual and sound situations which have lost their motor extension,’ which are ‘cut off from memory-based recognition’ and are ‘an unstable set of floating memories, images of a past which move past at dizzying speed as if achieving a profound freedom’. This paper will outline an argument for dreams, onirosigns, as a theoretical structure for new media artworks. This paper will also discuss how new media art was foreshadowed by 20th century experimental cinema explorations, including Un Chien Andalou and Meshes of the Afternoon, which used ‘irrational’ and non-linear strategies. These films rejected the investigation of space and instead explored internal spaces through myth, ritual and dream-like logic. This can also be seen in James Joyce’s literary work Finnegan’s Wake, which employed a kind of dream language, involving the dissolution of the boundaries of the subject. These artists' methods did not fully utilise non-linear strategies but pre-empted some of the qualities of interactive art. In recent years this structure can also be seen in the film Inception, which depicts a dreamworld created through the use of imaginary feedback loops. Like Inception, the new media artist is the architect of an imaginary world, which the observer or user creatively explores.

Yes / No / Maybe : Sense of Place and the Space in-between

by Nedine Kachornnamsong

Technology has often been portrayed as an antagonist that alters the structure of humanity. On the other hand, new aspects of human behaviour are evolving with the help of new technology. They reflect the way we see ourselves in the world - a reflection of our desires. By looking into the technology as a mode of revealing (Heidegger 1954). This paper will explore the possibilities of technology and the change in our society as a source to understand the human being. The main finding will be in the area of digital and online communication. This is because the way Human Computer Interaction (HCI) has been constructed within digital media requires us to reach to the higher stage of abstraction in order to facilitate the tools. Furthermore, our state of being in the world has its own fluidity. It precludes us from thoroughly understanding the ontology of the physical world (Jacobsson 2000), the help from new communication structures in cyberspace, which somehow gives us a clear view towards our own behaviour.

Based on an idea that nature is constructed, not discovered (Haraway 1991), Yes / No / Maybe (2009) is an interactive installation of a social event, where online dating elements are transported into a physical setting. The displacement of virtuality into a physical setting is an attempt to dispense with the techno-utopian/dystopian view and a means to question the concept of humanity and its politics of space and place. Participants receive tags containing chips, which will transmit signals that will influence the color of light in the environment near them. The three fundamental principles of online dating (anonymity, declaring the level of interest, and the playful atmosphere) were used to create a virtual situation in a café environment in the Modern Art Museum, Ljubljana, Slovenia.

Opera & the Cult of the DJ

by Justine Poplin

Physicality in Projection

Opera & the Cult of the DJ

Artist Lecture Excerpt 

Artists working in the field of New Media have at times limited their creative outputs of their finished works exhibited in the gallery or public space by the notion of ‘the screen’. The screen I am speaking of is generally rectangular in shape, either within the interface of a computer screen or majestically projected onto flat, uninspiring surface/s. There are however; other possibilities that few artists have explored to create a ‘physicality’ in projection, which extends preconceived notions of screen-based culture.

Video and notions of projection can engage in creative strategies that push boundaries and extend the message of the medium. Artists can initiate an alternate dialogue by creating a screen or screens that are physical in presence and through this physicality take on their own psychological space. This physical presence is illustrated in Tony Oursler’s ‘Smoke and Mirrors’ 2006 the viewer can freely circumnavigate the work in its holographic–like, free-form state, illuminating video’s post-human presence through projection. Oursler’s “general theme was to mimetic technology, that is, technology that could be perceived as a direct extension of psychological states”. [i] In video work such as this created from projected pixels onto surfaces that are freestanding or transcendental take video out of its rigid realm into the transcendental giving the audience something avant- garde and phantasmagorical.

There are several Artists that will be discussed throughout this paper and then later I will discuss how they have informed my own work...

Artist Lecture Excerpt - Justine Poplin’s work

Poplin further explores notions of screen culture and performative presence in her new work ‘Habitat’.

[i] Smoke and Mirrors: Tony Oursler’s Influence machine, A conversation between Tony Oursler and Louise Neri May July 2001, New York City