September 14, 2004

Christiane Paul Curates

by Noah Wardrip-Fruin · , 10:02 am

Tonight’s the opening of “The Passage of Mirage — Illusory Virtual Objects.” It’s curated by Christiane Paul and Zhang Ga, and features works by Jim Campbell, Vuk Cosic, John Gerrard, W. Bradford Paley, Eric Paulos, Wolfgang Staehle, Thomson & Craighaid, and Carlo Zanni. There are artist talks coming up on the 30th, and then a symposium titled “Negotiating Realities: New Media Art and the Post-Object” on October 10.

But that’s hardly all Christiane’s been up to. For example, two cool projects have recently gone up at the Whitney Artport (a space she curates). One is {Software} Structures by Casey Reas (with Robert Hodgin, William Ngan, Jared Tarbell). The other is Demonstrate by Ken Goldberg and Alpha Lab (click “view again” if your browser blocks popups).

More details on all of these below.

agent.netart presents

The Passage of Mirage — Illusory Virtual Objects
featuring works by Jim Campbell, Vuk Cosic, John Gerrard, W. Bradford Paley, Eric Paulos, Wolfgang Staehle, Thomson & Craighaid, and Carlo Zanni

September 14 – October 16
Chelsea Art Museum
556 West 22nd Street, @ 11th avenue
New York, NY 10011 USA

+Opening reception: Tues, September 14, 6-8 PM
+Artist Talk: Thurs., September 30, 7 – 9 PM
+Symposium: “Negotiating Realities: New Media Art and the Post-Object”
Sun, Oct. 10, 11-5 PM, Tishman Auditorium, New School University, 66 W 12th St.

Exhibition and symposium organized by agent.netart
(joint public programs by Intelligent Agent and the Netart Initiative of the Parsons School of Design)
Curators and symposium co-ordinators:
Christiane Paul (Director, Intelligent Agent; Adjunct Curator of New Media Arts, Whitney Museum)
Zhang Ga (Director, Netart Initiative; Professor, MFA Design and Technology program, Parsons School of Design)

The exhibition and symposium are made possible by funding from THE ROCKEFELLER FOUNDATION

The exhibition “The Passage of Mirage” explores concepts surrounding the “virtual object” and the issues of representation that have been raised by it. While the coalition of virtual and object seems contradictory at first glance, it dialectically illuminates the complex relationships between the virtual and the real that unfold in new media art. In classical optical theories of the 18th century, the word “virtual” was used to describe the reflected image of an object. Today’s digital image does not require a physical object to represent a physical reality; rather than reproducing reality, it encodes data and therefore alludes to an expanded concept of objecthood.

New media art both connects to and expands the dematerialization of the art object that occurred in earlier art movements. The new media object is a process in flux that is potentially interactive, dynamic, participatory and customizable and often oscillates between its inherent ephemeral nature and its material components or people‚s desire to objectify it.

“The Passage of Mirage” features nine projects that address these issues by portraying the virtual object as a process, a data structure (or carrier thereof), or as an encoded reality. The artworks expand notions of the traditional art object, sometimes quite specifically with regard to more established art forms such as photography, film, or painting.

The works of Jim Campbell and Thomson & Craighead, for example, offer different approaches to processing the medium of film. Campbell’s “Accumulating Psycho” continuously collapses and accumulates the images of the entire 1 hour, 50 minutes Hitchcock film; by contrast, the artist’s “Night Light” visualizes Psycho’s sound level and the brightness of the image throughout the film. Thomson & Craighead’s “Short Films about Flying” is an edition of unique cinematic works that were generated in real-from existing data found on the World Wide Web: each “movie” (replete with opening titles and end credits) combines a video feed from Logan Airport in Boston with randomly loaded net radio sourced from elsewhere in the world.

John Gerrard’s “Watchful” and Carlo Zanni’s “Oriana” both transform a portrait into a “living” process that is networked or responds to haptic sensation; and Wolfgang Staehle’s and Vuk Cosic’s works present a “live” version of a photograph or painting. In very different ways, the idea of the object as data carrier unfolds both in W. Bradford Paley’s “Code Profiles” and Eric Paulos’ “Limelight,” a sculptural object that doubles as automated threat detection and indication system.

While still informed by the aesthetics of more traditional media, the artworks in the exhibition are media objects that are process-oriented, reactive, or open to (real-time) data processing and intervention.

new commissioned project at artport, The Whitney Museum’s portal to net art

{Software} Structures

by Casey Reas (with Robert Hodgin, William Ngan, Jared Tarbell) /

Inspired by Sol LeWitt’s wall drawings, {Software} Structures explores the relevance of conceptual art to the idea of software as art. As many works of conceptual art, software art is ultimately based on instructions and language.

Reas implemented three of Lewitt’s drawings in software and then made modifications. After working with the LeWitt plans, he created three unique structures — text descriptions outlining dynamic relations between elements — which were then implemented: 26 pieces of software derived from the textual structures were coded to isolate different components, including interpretation, material, and process. Reas invited three people to interpret and implement one of his software structures (“A surface filled with one hundred medium to small sized circles. Each circle has a different size and direction, but moves at the same slow rate.”). In addition, this structure was implemented in three separate programming environments (Java, Flash, C++). Finally, the process of realizing one structure is revealed by documenting its evolution from the first lines of code to the completed work. For each of the implementations, you may view the software, source code, and comments by the artists.

artport gate page September 04

“Demonstrate” by Ken Goldberg and Alpha Lab

Through a web camera, “Demonstrate” provides public access to UC Berkeley’s Sproul Plaza, where the free speech movement originated 40 years ago. The networked installation combines an advanced robotic camera and a visual database with a collective camera interface based on mathematical optimization.