Rhizome has just posted a summary of last weekend’s Futuresonic in Manchester. You have to read a long way down before you reach mention of the art in the Cube that we went to see. It doesn’t even mention any of the music events (which doesn’t bother me, because the only event I’d have considered going to in that category was the concert by Philip Glass), but it shows how much the festival contained.
I’m sorry that I missed the presentation by Aaron Kolbin. I hadn’t realised that was on, though it was only seeing Flight Patterns at the Cube that made me interested in his other work. The version of Flight Patterns on his website lacks the changes over time that were included in the version at the Cube, but you can zoom in and pan around, which gives it a completely different feel.
Three of us went to Futuresonic in Manchester yesterday, to research digital art. Well, I say Futuresonic, but really we just went to Cube since that’s where almost all of the art events in Futuresonic are located. A couple of events I wanted to look at were listed as city-wide, but we saw no evidence of them, and since we’d finished at Cube by lunchtime, we decided not to wait for the highlights of the Japan Media Arts Festival at the Contact Theatre in the evening.
If I had to chose a single piece as my favourite, Flight Patterns by Aaron Kolbin would be a strong contender, but I also liked Nuage Vert. I confess that part of their appeal for me is that the latter was created using Processing and I suspect the former was too, though the interpretation notes mention only an “open source programming language”.
On that basis, I ought also to like the knitting scanner in Making Fun Serious, which appears to use Arduino and therefore probably Processing as well, but somehow it merely left me bemused – an electronic version of a pianola, albeit one that plays knitted patterns, with the consequent distortions to the output. It’s quite possible that several other items in the RCA/Yahama section, such as the wearable instrument, used Arduino and Processing too, but the precise method of control was less obvious.
The whole Yamaha section was interesting and it contributed hugely to the relaxed atmosphere that I hope we can emulate in our digital art exhibition in 2011, but I felt the title was the wrong way round. It couldn’t really be taken seriously at all, and should only be seen as a bit of fun.
After leaving Cube we went to Urbis, to see the videogame nation exhibition, which was even more fun than the Yamaha pieces. There were a lot of games I’d never heard of, and most of the games I used to play, such as Myst, Spindizzy, Dark Seed and Wipeout, were missing, and there was little or no mention of the Amiga, my computer of choice for many years. It turns out (though perhaps I should have noted the title of the exhibition) that the emphasis was very much on games created in Britain. I enjoyed trying many of the games on offer, but I struggled, as I always did, with the driving simulators, and some of the controls were too complicated to pick up without a manual or much more time to experiment. My only regret is that I forgot to try Little Big Planet, the one reason I might consider buying a Playstation. The £3 entry fee to the exhibition was a bargain.
I linked to a post on (the teeming void) the other day, and I can’t get a particular phrase out of my head:
“…the digital is just the analog operating within certain tolerances or threshholds.”
It seems to resonate and hint at momentous meaning that I can’t quite grasp. I don’t understand his first link to Kirschenbaum, but I get his second reference to Kirschenbaum and the point about data’s illusion of immateriality. I’m sure this could have a deep impact on my current research on contemporary digital art.
OK, I’ve finished watching the Paul Prudence video clips. Cut to the chase: if you want to see his visual recursive programme in action, watch parts 8 and 11. In terms of abstract experimental animation, it’s vaguely reminiscent of Oskar Fischinger’s work, but it concentrates on repetition and multiplication rather than colour and fast change. So – not really like it at all, then.
For me, the highlight of Paul’s presentation was this definition:
recursion n. If you still don’t get it, see recursion.
Continuing yesterday’s theme about digital art comes a timely post from (the teeming void) about…well, it’s ultimately about the links between analogue and digital, and expanding computers through tinkering with the hardware and tapping into analogue sources – the flux of the material field. (Such a beautiful phrase.) I particularly like The Idea of a Tree, which seems to be an embodiment of its surroundings, taking Andy Goldsworthy’s approach to outdoor sculpture to the next stage. In a very small way, it ties in neatly with my first faltering steps with Arduino – last night I hooked up my new Duemilanova board to my iMac for the very first time.
(the teeming void) is subtitled ‘generative and data aesthetics’. It’s written by Mitchell Whitelaw, who wrote Metacreation: Art and Artificial Life, a fascinating book that was one of the initial prompts, when I started to learn Processing last year, to push my limited skills with the language so I could use it to create something generative. I haven’t reached that point yet, but I’m getting there, and Arduino is one more step on the way.
That world out there is smaller, but more densely packed, than I realised.
In posting every stage of progress in my Processing sketches recently, I seem to have lost sight of what’s going on elsewhere on the web. As an antidote (yes, the use of the medical term is deliberate), I’ve been researching current and recent examples of digital art.
There’s the forthcoming Futuresonic festival in Manchester from 13 to 16 May 2009, which I plan to visit. Michael Takeo‘s website claims he currently has an installation called Data_sea at Birmingham’s Thinktank, but there’s no mention of it on the Thinktank website. On Everything by Pall Thayer, created with Processing in 2006, indiscriminately draws random material from blogs at blogger.com and images on Flickr. There’s also a lot of interesting material to be found at Furtherfield.
Via Vague Terrain, I’ve discovered Paul Prudence and his dataisnature blog, which has vast quantities of fascinating stuff, particularly generative art. Amongst other work, Paul contributed to Flash Math Creativity. Also via Vague Terrain, I came across Node 08: Forum for Digital Artists, which took place in Franfurt last year, largely using vvvv. You can see some videos of lectures at Node 08 on Vimeo, including an interesting but dry and formal (and incomplete) lecture by Casey Reas (of Processing fame) on the role of software in the visual arts, and the aforementioned Paul Prudence talking about visual music.
There is a fundamental problem with lectures by people who are not polished public speakers which is compounded when they’re filmed, but at least when watching them on the web you can pause as often as you want or need, and the content rewards perseverence (perhaps that should be ‘endurance’).