Creative strategies proposed in this set feature the intertwining of nature and technology in a dynamic symbiosis of the physical and virtual body. They present a world in which the boundaries between “arising” and “creating” have been blurred.
At a time of technological enlightenment art becomes a dialectical catharsis. Nature turns into the world of mana, an afterimage of a primal fear of the unknown and inconceivable. Media artists are playing a part of the “medium” who manage the sense of fear and respect regarding the mythical nature, bestowing or exposing its divine status. They serve ideas and “re-enchant” the natural world, causing ambivalent feelings. On the one hand, it seems that we are having nature under control; on the other hand, there lurks an uncanny valley if combined with technology.
(Polski) Koert van Mensvoort postuluje, iż natura wcale nie jest zielona (1). Pomidory uprawiane w szklarni i selekcjonowane gatunki hipoalergicznych kotów są przez niego postrzegane jako kultura w przebraniu natury. Znamiona zjawisk naturalnych posiadają za to, według Mensvoorta, uliczne korki i wirusy komputerowe, które stają się zupełnie autonomiczne względem działalności człowieka. Granice pomiędzy „rodzeniem” a „tworzeniem” wyraźnie zacierają się dzięki szybkiemu rozwojowi nauki i technologii.
Natura i technologia są czynnikami dynamicznymi, które wpływają na siebie nawzajem w równym stopniu i współistnieją w specyficznej symbiozie. Transgenetyka, czy sztuczne sieci neuronowe są imitacjami naturalnych procesów, jednocześnie przyczyniając się do powstawania hipernaturalnych fenomenów, o których wspomina Mensvoort.
Sztuka staje się przekaźnikiem zupełnie nowego paradygmatu i komentatorem aktualnych zjawisk, będąc jednocześnie niejako przewodnikiem wskazującym możliwy kierunek rozwoju cywilizacyjnego, jak również zagrożeń z niego płynących. Artyści medialni posługują się narzędziami, które przynależały do sfery czysto technologicznej, uzupełniając je o wrażliwość i równowagę w myśleniu o planecie, którą bierzemy w posiadanie. Wskutek tej współpracy na styku art&science powstaje eksperyment badający możliwości współczesnej nauki i tego, w jaki sposób człowiek może ją wykorzystać. Strategie twórcze w proponowanym zestawie obracają się wokół obserwacji w pełni uczestniczącej. Generatywne programowanie, robotyka i wirtualna rzeczywistość są desygnatami ery mechanicznej, zmuszającymi do interakcji i zajęcia stanowiska wobec prezentowanej problematyki.
W dobie technologicznego oświecenia sztuka zyskuje również funkcję dialektycznego katharsis. Natura staje się światem mana (2), powidokiem pierwotnego lęku przed tym, co nieznane i przez człowieka nieogarnięte. Medialni artyści wchodzą w rolę „mediów” zarządzających poczuciem strachu i szacunku wobec mitycznej natury, nadając lub demaskując jej boski status. Serwują wyobrażenia i ponownie „zaczarowują” naturalny świat, wywołując ambiwalentne odczucia. Z jednej strony, wydaje się iż przejmujemy nad naturą totalną kontrolę; z drugiej jednak, w połączeniu z technologią, czai się w niej absolutnie dolina niesamowitości.
(1) Koert van Mensvoort, Hypernature. Real Nature is not Green, [online] www.nextnature.net/2006/11/real-nature-isnt-green/.
(2) Max Horkheimer, Theodor W. Adorno, Dialektyka oświecenia. Fragmenty filozoficzne, przeł. M. Łukasiewicz, IfiS PAN, 1994.
Michael Candy (AU), Big Dipper, 2014, 2:48
A documentation of an installation exhibited at the WRO Biennale 2015: Test Exposure in the Renoma Department Store. Big Dipper is a kinetic light sculpture resembling an enormous crab or a spider. Nine pairs of luminous legs move smoothly thanks to a mechanism based on a helical line combining symbolic elements of biology and physics: the helix of DNA and the waveform of light. Nine tubal lightbulbs attached to a metal “spine” fluently form various shapes. Named after an asterism, the sculpture alludes to the primordial origins of life from stars, the kilns of the universe.
Jennifer Beth Guerin (US), Project, 2006, 1:17
The video appeared at the WRO 07 Media Art Biennale competition. It is a non-narrative video that explores the movement of fluid as it rises up and out of its source. This sticky substance refers to the body and its fluids; however, its location is unknown, it may suggests mechanization of some unknown object. The project is meant to conceal a repetitive movement allowing a variety of interpretations.
Karl Sims (US), Panspermia, 1990, 1:59
Computer animation presented at Ars Electronica 1991. Panspermia is the name of the theory according to which life exists and is distributed throughout the universe in the form of germs or spores. The piece presents a life cycle of an intergalactic lifeform in a permanent state of aggressive reproduction. Original software was used to apply algorithms of an “artificial evolution” – later used in Primordial Dance (also available in the Green Stream, one of the thematic paths in the Media Library). The process of reproduction and the movement presented in the video is calculated automatically.
Karl Sims (US), Primordial Dance, 1990, 1:52
Computer animation presented at the WRO 91 festival. Artificial evolution. This is how Karl Sims describes the process as a result of which the Primordial Dance was made. The computer using complicated mathematical equations generates and projects a series of images. The artist chooses the most aesthetically interesting images, and those survive and are “bred” to produce a new collection of images. The equations, or artificial genes of the survivors are copied, mutated, and mated by the computer to generate new offspring pictures. This process of variation and selection is repeated, and with each cycle more complex and interesting results can occur. Finally, movements are created by performing “genetic interpolations” between these emerging images. This piece contains a series of these interpolations applied to various sets of resulting images.
Megan Daalder (US), Tribute to Karl Sim’s Virtual Evolving Creatures, 2010
Karl Sims’ Virtual Evolved Creatures was an early experiment in artificial life that used genetic algorithms to generate creatures that would walk, swim or jump in simulated virtual environments. This project is a human’s tribute to some of the most charming and enduring artificial life forms ever created. The piece is performed by Megan Daalder with a simultaneous projection of Karl Sims’ original creatures from 1994. Place and time of recording: 14th Media Art Biennale WRO 2011 ALTERNATIVE NOW, Wrocław, May 2011 Megan May Daalder is a graduate of UCLA’s Design Media Arts Department. She creates videos, performances and installations. Her documentary about the Internet Generation called The Terrestrials, was premiered at the Rotterdam International Film Festival. Her Mirrorbox installation recently received international attention in Paris and Poland, winning top prize (ex-aequo) at the 14th WRO Media Art Biennale. She has also curated several “technology-inspired” performance exhibitions in Los Angeles.
Milla Molianen (FI), Deep, 1995, 6:18
Computer animation presented at the WRO 95 festival. Deep is a computer animation which questions seeing and learning to see. All skeletons look alike, but when we see the skin, we already know what to expect. After the whole figure has been cut into pieces and X-rayed, all what is left are some kind of forms, shapes, movements and materials. The body is made up of bones, muscles, skin and hair. The same particles are to be found in every living thing, so we are all physically closer to each other than we sometimes want to remember.
Natalia Balska (PL), B-612, 2014, 1:19
Documentation of an interactive installation presented at the WRO Biennale Test Exposure 2015 in the WRO Art Center. The work has been made in collaboration with the Academy of Fine Arts in Cracow. B-612 was made as a kind of experiment on the possibilities of shaping the interaction between the real and the virtual. The work is built from a system consisting of two objects: a plant and a neural network. An independent measuring system, reacting only to certain external stimuli, such as humidity, temperature and light, acts as a mediator of the interaction between those objects. The survival of the plant depends on the water level distributed by the neural network in a daily cycle. The “behavior” of the network and its “decisions” about the division of water is shaped by the reward system based on the read-outs of the plant living environment. The survival and the development of the objects is dependent on each other.
panGenerator – Jakub Koźniewski + Krzysztof Cybulski + Piotr Barszczewski + Krzysztof Goliński (PL), Peacock, 2013, 1:12
Documentation of an interactive installation exhibited at the WRO Biennale Pioneering Values 2013 at the Rings of Saturn exhibition in the Ballestrem’s Palace in Wrocław. Peacock, or a multimedia rattle, is a metaphorical, mechanic, controlled bird. Due to integrity with a simple navigation system, adjusting the colour and speed of flutter of the mechanic tail is possible. Using the still developed kinetic mapping technique, the installation lets the audience change the parameters of audiovisual freuquencies and the radius of “three feathers”. The interface used in the installation is constantly developed by the artists.
Pieter Bann Muller (NL), Bomen / Trees, 1993, 0:45
The work was prepared in collaboration with Monte Video Time Based Art Amsterdam. The video is a documentation of an installation exhibited in the Wroclaw National Museum (May/June) at the WRO 93 festival. The installation consists of five monitors mounted at a height of 235 cm above ground on steel columns. The monitors have been plugged to the Umatic video recorders. Their cables spreaded along the museum resemble roots of a tree. The tops of the trees wave on the displays accompanied by the sound of the leaves and the wind. The piece touches upon the subject of artificiality of the world which is increasingly immersed in technology. On attempting to subdue the world in predictable structures.
Justine Cooper (AU), RAPT, 1998, 5:02
The video was presented at the WRO Media Art Biennale 99. The work focuses on the ideas of metamorphosis, atrophy and transformation. Moving through time and space is presented by MRI scans of the artist’s body. The video presents a virtual body in which the volume of water gives it a three dimensional quality. A metaphoric journey inside the artist’s body, going from feet to collarbones, leads the viewer to an image of the outside, illustrating changes occurring inside a human organism. The work has been continued in the form of a 10-meter structure composed of MRI scans.
Stelarc (US), Cyberhuman: Involuntary Body / Third Hand (Split Body: Voltage-in / Voltage-out), 1997, 14:55
Documentation of the very first Stelarc’s performance in Poland at WRO Biennale 97, recorded in the Apocalypse Room in Grotowski’s Laboratory Theatre for the TVP 2 “WRO Taśmy Mieszane” programme. It had audience of 1 million persons. The presented fragment contains an excerpt from the “Split Body: Voltage-in / Voltage-out” performance and an interview with the artist conducted by Piotr Krajewski. Capabilities of a naked human body plugged into a cyber-mechanic machine have been expanded and simultaneously taken under control. The audience using electrodes attached to the artist’s body could stimulate his muscles with electric current. The muscle’s reaction caused movement of a robotic third hand. This kind of system, activated by the audience on the scene using a computer mouse, may be described as a new bodily presence, cyber-human performative identity, in which the body becomes an object of physical and technical experiments to discover the limits and forms of its future existence.
Michał Brzeziński (PL), Body Language, 2014
Documentation of an interactive installation presented at the WRO Biennale Test Exposure 2015 in the WRO Art Center. The bioelectric affects are forming a subjective dictionary that allows us to search for life and communicate with it. When the plant remains in a “record and stimulate” mode, its reactions to words are stored in a database. When the plant “decides” to shift to a “read and translate” mode, its activity is measured, and the database “starts looking for” similar patterns of response: The related words are taken back in the form of a text. The texts are then published on the blog and in social media portals throughout the exposition of the. The bonsai tree runs its fanpage on Facebook under the name “Body Language – WRO Art Biennale 2015“.
Danny Warner (US), Aphasia Evaporata, 2010, 1:30
Computer animation presented at WRO 2011 Alternative Now. This filmed work imagines an evolutionary future of physical interrelationships between organism and technology. Within this vast body of porous bone and watery ligaments witness a world of nanoscopic machines boring holes, tendrils slipping along, quietly doing their unknown work in the physical, corporeal medium of the human body. The animation investigates problems that we are soon to be challenged with: Are the nanomachines destructive or constructive? Autonomous or controlled? Symbiotic or parasitic? Thinking or rote?
Carolin Liebl (DE) + Nikolas Schmid-Pfähler (DE), Vincent and Emily, 2012
Love in the automation age: Two self-willed robots are in a bizarre conflict between each other and their surroundings. ‘Vincent and Emily’ show the viewer the solitude of a partner relationship and simultaneously the involvement of the partners in society and their impulses. Analogue to human relationships, the two creatures stand for themselves and have to draw the line towards the outside. As humans are only able to communicate their thoughts and emotions verbally and through their actions, likewise the two robots depend for their communication on their sounds via loudspeakers and motions controlled by their motors. The two technical creatures capture sounds and movements via sensors and react on those signals with own expressions. Just like in each human relationship it comes to misunderstandings: If Vincent sends positive signals by up and down movements, it is possible that Emily interprets even those signals as negative. Disagreement is preprogrammed.