July 7, 2006
Next month’s ISEA will be showcasing quite an array of electronic artwork. While San Jose ain’t quite the Baltic Sea (gang + 1 2 3 4 5 6 7), it’s much easier for North Americans like us to get to. Scanning the list, here’s a few previews that stood out to me, that may be of particular interest to GTxA readers. Text and images excerpted from the site.
Wildlife, Karolina Sobecka
At nighttime projections from moving cars are shone on the buildings in the industrial/abandoned part of town. Each car projects a video of a wild animal. The animal’s movements are programmed to correspond to the speed of the car: as the car moves, the animal runs along it, as the car stops, the animal stops also. Aggressive driving is reflected in the aggressive behavior of the animal. The animals are avatars of the drivers, who, enclosed in their bubble of safety, are separated from the stark and dangerous world of urban reality, as being in a different universe. Several vehicles can be taking part in the performance, creating interactions between the various animals, as the vehicles pass or get closer and further away from each other.
Amy and Klara (also see full project page), Marc Böhlen
Amy and Klara are robot characters capable of synthetic text to speech generation and automated speech recognition, for which the charged world of foul language is under investigation. Swearing offers several interesting conduits into a critique of the under-exposed normative tendencies in automated language representation and social robotics. Why are most smart gadgets and toys friendly and playful, why are they usually modelled as pets or servants? Machines that curse and pick a fight might offer a more realistic preparation for a shared future between machines and humans.
Feral Robotic Dogs (alse see full project page), Natalie Jeremijenko
OUT THERE, in happy family homes, in the offices of corporate executives, in toy stores throughout the globe, is an army of robotic dogs. These semi-autonomous robotic creatures, though currently programmed to perform inane or entertaining tasks: begging for plastic bones; barking to the tune of national anthems; walking in circles; are actually fully motile and AWAITING FURTHER INSTRUCTIONS.
Breeze, Jill Coffin and John Taylor
Breeze is an ambient robot inhabiting the body of a willow tree. Unlike us, Breeze can visually sense and react through 360 degrees, allowing her to reach out to you and others wherever you are near.
enCODe, Osman Khan and John Houck
The key word being “COD”: a projection of virtual fish on the café’s table tops. Using machine vision algorithms the fish avoid objects on the table (including hands and arms). The fish “swim” between projections via a network of networked computers. Each fish s also able to carry a message which is uploaded by visitors from a website and is released into the virtual pond when fish are trapped. Thus the project becomes both a fun interaction that takes advantage of natural activity over tabletops and a communal bulletin board recording thoughts and reflections occurring during the event.
WiFi ArtCache, Julian Bleecker
WiFi.ArtCache consists of a WiFi node containing digital art objects retrieved by attendees via an embedded 802.11 access point. These art objects’ interactive functionality are coded by technology-savvy artists, using a special API (application programming interface) I developed that allows the programmers access to a number of features of the ArtCache. One digital art object authored for the WiFi.ArtCache is called “Plant Life.” This WiFi.ArtCache object is designed to represent the vagaries of botanical life. When you download one of the Plant Life objects to your WiFi enabled laptop, PDA or desktop, you see a small, lone tree. The tree sways lightly in the wind, and the day, as indicated by the sun low on the horizon, is young. As more people download these Plant Life objects, other trees begin to appear. The scene begins to assume a less barren appearance. Birds and a spider monkey appears, and your tree as well as others’ begin to mature and bloom. You’ve downloaded your Plant Life object to your mobile device so you can continue to interact with it later when you go home. But when you get home, the scene is different. It’s late fall, and your tree is in a distinctive autumnal state. Leaves slowly fall to the ground in a pile, the sky is dark despite the fact that it is only three in the afternoon. Most markedly, there is no sign of activity. No other trees are around and the animals have all gone away.
abstractmachine, Douglas Edric Stanley
Three projects including (^3), which takes another well known media, the Rubiks Cube®, and repurposes it into a simple yet complex DJ sequencing instrument; and The Game Machine, which repurposes Nintendo® Gameboy Advance® consoles into an authoring platform, allowing users to program new games using drag-and-drop programming interface. Users can then download the results onto their Gameboy as well as share their programs on the abstractmachine network.
SimVeillance: San Jose, Katherine Isbister and Rainey Straus
The artists will recreate the Cesar Chavez plaza in downtown San Jose using the Sims 2, and will work from images captured by surveillance cameras trained on the square, to populate the simulated square with replicas of ‘real’ transients. The final installation will have two displays. On one, the game running, populated with the borrowed transients. On the other, a slide show with paired images: surveillance photo and digital snapshot of the ‘Sim’ that was created in the likeness of the real person.