Principles of New Media

“Project DREAM” is an interactive media project, where the stages of sleep and activity of dreaming is recreated in a digital environment to explore the ‘interstice’ between reality and your unconscious. The personal experience is confined to a single user at a time, where he would be connected to a heart-rate sensor as an indicator of his comfort or “state of rest”.  The participant enters a dark room, which consists of a chair and a wall of alarm clocks. When he is calm and seated, indicated by a consistent heart rate, it triggers the set timers on the alarm clocks as well as a projection of written “dreams”. The dreams shown are recollections of dreams from other participants, where they are collected and viewed as story. When the alarms go off, the environment and room reacts, mimicking the process of being woken up, where the lights flicker and the “dream” ends.

According to Manovich in The Language of New Media, he states that new media works are bounded by five general principles. Digital works can be characterised by numerical representation, modularity, automation, variability and transcoding.  “Numerical Representation” refers to the backbone of digital code in new media projects, where it involves sampling. An algorithmic pattern of code is constructed using units through systems that reads and manipulates such units to produce a desired outcome. In our project, mathematical code serves as building blocks that shapes the processes through open-source tools, such as processing and arduino.

New Media works have “modularity”, a whole composed of parts of a fractal nature. Each system have different components that work together and the systems function connectively as a whole. The foundation of computer programming is built upon this principle, where it allows for autonomy of individual parts as well as the functionality between them as a system. “Project DREAM” involves different systems that are interconnected, relying on the inputs and outputs that triggers one another. However, each system is wired and can exist on their own.

An unique difference between new media works and traditional artworks is “variability”, where new media works can exist in “different, potentially infinite versions”. With the involvement of human interaction, unpredictability serves as a variable in digital works. In “project DREAM”, each experience within the work is different as the freedom of interaction and responses trigger different outcomes. The input of the various dreams produce different experiences for each viewer, where the variables in our work is “space” and “time”. The duration and the environment (projection and light) changes according the how a viewer decides to interact with the space.

Lastly, Manovich argues that new media is composed of two distinct layers, “cultural layer” and “computer layer”. The complex relationship between the two layers is explored in new media works through “transcoding”, where systems of organisation of culture is integrated with interfaces in computing. New media works blend two seemingly contradicting components, media and data through computerisation. “Project DREAM” is exploring an organic and visceral concept through digital and objectified ways. The concept of sleep and dreaming is portrayed in a simplified and “non-human” manner that would not have been possible before the existence of new media and coding.

INTERACTIVE 1 – Singapore Night Festival

by Galina Mihaleva, Hedren Sum, Pat Pataranutaporn, Kathrin Albers, Audrey Ng

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Located outside the Armenian Church, Pulse is an experiential installation where lights of different colours, triggered by sound and voice, are projected onto an elevated roof of strung arrays of white fabric. The assemblage of fabrics resembles a porous membrane, as the  free hanging pieces of white fabric allow for an ever-changing surface.

The digital and interactive aspects involve colourful visualisation projections that are activated through voice and sound, a trigger initiated by the participants. The lights projected on the looming surface that bounds the space created an immersive and alternative environment that mimic a live organism with a pulse.

The anatomy of the work involves the sensors who pick up the sound and noise of the participants (or the surroundings) and the actuators are the light projected. I would say the interaction in this work is passive, where the participant would not have to actively act or put much thought behind the interaction. In my opinion, the actual artwork is the membrane which serves as the backbone in the environment created. The organic design of the structures were inspired by the algorithm of how cells divide, where the artists intent for it to represent the spontaneity of our digital society. Thus, I feel that the lights play a secondary role in the work, while the physical structure could possibly serve as an installation on its own.

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Other than an experiential piece, this work also serves as a performative piece where a muse is invited to dance within the space. She would wear a dress of the same fabric used and the audience can watch her move fluidly as a response to the dynamic but strangely calming lights and sound.

INTERACTIVE I – Interactive media projects

“DREAM HOUSE” by Marina Abramovic

Located permanently in Niigata, Japan, “Dream House” project is an experimental artwork where participants are invited to stay in a house curated by Abramovic, who aim to cultivate dreams. The viewer participates with the entire space by living in it, going through rituals to facilitate the process of dreaming. After sleeping in a coordinated pace in ‘dream suits’, the viewer recalls his dreams in the “DREAM BOOK” which is recorded since its first participant.

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I would say the interaction between the viewer and this work is raw and organic, playing with the line between reality and imaginary. Each dream becomes part of the work that documents the existence of each viewer and a fragment of their imagination that lived within the art work.

“UNIVERSE OF WATER PARTICLES ON A ROCK WHERE PEOPLE GATHER” by teamLab, 2018, Interactive Digital Installation, Sound: Hideaki Takahashi

This art installation digitalised the flow of water of a waterfall into lines of light, creating a virtual space in a three dimensional space. When a viewer stands on the rock or touches the waterfall, the flow of water changes as a response to the interaction to create an ever-changing state.

I feel that the interaction in this work is of face-value given the possibilities of digital technology. But the work can be appreciated for its scale and beauty.