Y2S1 | Interactive Media 1 | Reading Assignment | A Companion to Digital Art

Introduction

In ADM, we study the history of art during our first year. As we dive into our second year of school, we study the history of design which covers interactive media, product design, and visual communications. So, what is the difference between art history and history of design? And why are histories of design (in this case, interactive media), other than histories of art, of particular importance for new media art in this generation?

I’ve chosen the book, A Companion to Digital Art, written by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. in 2016, to write my research, impressions, and reflection. As an interactive media student myself, I wanted to read up and research on a topic of relevance to me, to aid me in my work or to give me inspirations for the projects that I am working on. As such, I specifically picked chapter 27: Exhibition Histories and Futures- The Importance of Participation and Audiences.

This chapter discusses new media art, which is prospering in this age of time, and how it requires audiences and participation for the whole work of art to happen. Also, it examines exhibition histories and shows how it links and influences the future, which are the exhibits we see in our current lives now.

 

 

What is New Media Art

We have transited from traditional artwork to what we call new media artwork in this current era. I define traditional art as art bring produced at the present period of time that reflects the current culture by utilizing classical techniques in drawing, painting, or sculpting. One example would be Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh as shown below:

On the other hand, new media art includes digital art, computer graphics, computer animation, virtual art, Internet art, and interactive art. One very good example would be my class’s recent field trip to Singapore’s ArtScience Museum, where we visited the Future World Exhibit. You can view my reflections and insights here:

Y2S1 | Interactive Media 1 | ArtScience Museum Future World | Impressions and Reflections

 

Participation and Audiences in New Media Art

So what is so special about new media art? New media art does not fully exist as an artwork unless it is exhibited and interacted with by the audience. The fundamental interplay of space, time, and materiality is familiar to curators of installation art and media installations of various kinds and needs careful consideration of artists’ intent for the wider cultural context of the space.

Here is an example: The Tenth Sentiment by Ryota Kuwakubo’s artwork in 2011.

As you can see, this is an installation of a model train moving on its track through a landscape of mundane household objects in a darkened room. The shadows on the walls are entirely created by a small light on the front of the train, casting beautiful and fleeting animations across the walls.

Now imagine if all these that I mentioned above were just to be captured as an installation shot, or to be documented as a mere catalog of the objects and media being involved.

It would be so unfair to the artist as it would do so little justice to the whole experience of the exhibit. The behaviors of the audience would definitely be different if they were to be there in person to view the whole setup- the domestic hush in the intimate darkness, the small pleasurable sighs at an unexpected light effect, the repeated slow circuits around the room, and most importantly, their awareness that other people are also staying to wonder.

Why was the last point important though, some might wonder? This is because viewers’ interactivity is a key issue for exhibition histories. If audiences are missing from exhibition documentation, then all exhibitions would appear to be static objects, which conforms to the art‐historical norm.

 

 

Importance of Participation and Audiences in New Media Art

Although the specific medias being used in any installation is important, the conduct and performance of the work itself are equally, or rather more important for the audience, for them to rethink curatorial methods in terms of the particular systems and values of new media art.

As mentioned above, new media art includes digital art, computer graphics, computer animation, virtual art, Internet art, and interactive art. However, it doesn’t just end there. It is a notoriously problematic term to start with, which can cover a whole range of different media, systems, and means of distribution. So how do we identify if it is new media art?

“The three main characteristics of new media art are: connectivity, computability, and interactivity.” – Steve Dietz, 1999.

Who is Steve Dietz? Dietz is an American playwright and theatre director. Called “the most ubiquitous American playwright whose name you may never have heard”, Dietz has long been one of America’s most prolific and widely produced playwrights.

In his phrase, each characteristic, when applied to new media art in general, can be related to different exhibition histories, ranging from installation to performance, to videos.

Connectivity is a familiar feature to curators of live art or conceptual art, where the work of art itself bridges itself with the audience. The connection can be in any form as constructed by the artist, be it through sound, light, touch, or just viewing it alone. One example would be an event titled “Reunion” in Toronto back in 1968.

Marcel Duchamp and John Cage played a game of musical chess. The event drew an audience of hundreds to the Ryerson Theatre, where the two creative giants would activate a unique auditory experience through a specially constructed chess board that triggered different electronic compositions with each individual move, while Alexina Duchamp (the female in the picture) looks on with a handy bottle of wine to lubricate the social connections.

When it comes to computability, it is the technologies used in the setup itself. Things like Arduino, Touchdesigner, TinyDB, Unison, or even just coding by itself like Python- all these automation and technology are being used in the setup to make things move or react to something according to the response of the audience, making the installation mobile and fluid.

And lastly, for interactivity, it is basically the participation between the art and the audience. Like what I have mentioned above, interactivity is a key objective for new media art. If audiences are missing from exhibition documentation, then all exhibitions would appear to be static objects, which makes no difference to traditional art.

Without participation and audiences, these three characteristics would not be able to arise. And when these three characteristics are not in place, new media art would not be able to develop. This shows how important participation and audiences is important and essential in new media art.

 

 

New Media Art through New Media Systems

New media art can be expressed in many ways as mentioned, but what is the driving force behind it? This is where new media systems come into play.

New media systems are used for many things- selling things, collecting things, categorizing things, curating things, and of course, creating art. An important characteristic of new media system is that it contains many archives of documentations of art or exhibitions. One example is The Archive of Digital Art:

https://www.digitalartarchive.at/database/database-info/archive.html

Take a look at this website which features a lot of commissioned new media art, where the art can be experienced as an exhibition virtually. It is categorised so neatly into different genres, and they give full information on each and every artwork, just like what you would expect to see in an exhibit.

But of course, the downside of this would be that the audience would not be able to feel the whole experience as they would only be seeing it through their own computer screens in static images. However, this is not the case for all virtual exhibitions.

New media systems have advanced to fast such that things such as virtual museum tours are steadily becoming more and more common. VR has the power to transport users to places they might never be able to visit in real life so welcoming digital visitors into the museums of the world is a natural fit. Let us take a look at this example for the National Museum of Natural History.

This famous museum in Washington has several virtual tours integrated directly onto the web. Using Web VR means that virtual visitors can utilize any headset, providing a Web VR enabled browser that is used. The tours include both permanent and past exhibitions with the core tour offering dozens of panoramic images that can be navigated via an on-screen map or interactive arrows.

While the tour lacks in supporting content, it certainly makes up for in scope and range, with dinosaurs, sea life, geology and more in focus. Here’s the link for you to have a short experience:

https://naturalhistory2.si.edu/vt3/NMNH/z_NMNH-001.html

As such, it could be argued that Youtube, Vimeo, blogs, Flickr, or just the Internet itself are the largest, most connected and most participatory documentation archives of art. Even things like Open Source, this current OSS system that we are using, is also an example of how new media system archives art, producing new media art. And if you haven’t realised, all these examples that I have shown complies with the three characteristics of new media art- connectivity, computability, and interactivity.

 

 

How Participation and Audiences create History 

Every art movement was being influenced by the previous art movement, just like how Romanticism first developed as a reaction to the dominant movement of its time- Neoclassicism.

So how does new media art create history in the world of design, to influence the next generation, or rather the next movement? And the answer is, again, participation and audiences.

One apt example would be an exhibit named “Information” curated by Kynaston McShine back in 1970, in the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York. The exhibit was influenced by conceptual art, but with new curatorial tools and methods through the integration of ideas of interaction and participation. And before we continue, here is yet another example of how every art movement influences the next art movement- conceptual art was the fundamental and leading influence on interactive and participatory work of all media in this era.

Looking into one of the works inside Information would be Hans Haacke’s work “MoMA Poll”. MoMA Poll was a work of art that actively uses participation by the audience, who voted on political questions, with their votes being visible to all, in clear plastic posting boxes. These types of interaction and installation traditionally were the responsibilities of different departments within a museum, but were now brought together via artistic practice thorugh MoMA Poll.

McShine planned the exhibition installation in collaboration with MoMA’s production manager. The installation included several beanbags as audience seating, eschewing hard modernist benches and opening up the possibility for audience members to choose where to put them, to interact with each other, or engage in solitary contemplation of artworks. Audience comfort is of course not always the first thing on artists’ minds. It may be the work’s intent to discomfort or provoke. A little sidetrack, here is a post that I did on uncomfortable interactions through interactive art. Do screen through to appreciate how uncomfortable interactions are able to create a good experience for the audience!

Y1S2 | Experimental Interaction | Research Critique 4 | Uncomfortable Interactions

Now back to MoMA Poll- This installation is an early example of what in the art world came to be known as institutional critique. Such work of arts creates history as it is controversial and it stands against the social norm, and all these would not have been possible without participation and audiences. And in time to come, these works will definitely influence the next generation of artworks.

 

 

Conclusion

In conclusion, we can all see that participation and audiences are really crucial in interactive artwork, which is considered as new media art in this generation. Traditional artwork was all static artwork, there is no flow or movement in the artwork itself. However, new media art needs motion and activity for it to work.

This can also be linked to Do-It-With-Others (DIWO), a joint project development model that enables like-minded people to collaboratively work on a task, project or any other service. To me it, it is like a concept that is to create something together with others, and it is similar to how new media art works as well. Without participation and audience, the whole work of art would not be able to execute at all.

Here is a project which I applied the concept of DIWO:

Y1S2 | Experimental Interaction | Micro-Project 2 | Crowd-Sourced Art

All in all, I’ve learned that the core foundation for the success of a good and valuable new media interactive art would be participation and audience. This knowledge would definitely be instilled in my mind for works that I’ll be doing in the future, bringing me to greater heights!

 

Y2S1 | Interactive Media 1 | ArtScience Museum Future World | Impressions and Reflections

Introduction

ArtScience Museum Future World is a themed gallery filled with futuristic interactive artworks, located beside the Marina Bay Sands. The entire exhibit is filled with the world of art, science, magic, and metaphor through a collection of cutting-edge digital installations. This interactive space is collaborated with teamLab, a renowned interdisciplinary art collective.

I’ll be doing an overview of the whole setup, while also selecting a few exhibits within the gallery which I found really interesting, together with photos and videos I took during my visit. Also, I’ll be identifying the interactivity components being used in those setups that I’ll be talking about, so as to aid me in my future works and to give me more inspirations and ideas.

Future World takes visitors on an exciting journey of discovery through these four key narratives:

1. City in A Garden

2. Sanctuary

3. Park

4. Space

 

City in A Garden

Brief

City in A Garden takes inspiration from Singapore, where urban structures and nature co-exist harmoniously and demonstrates how essential nature’s resources are to people. Nature’s nurturing embrace allows for people to thrive, cultivating their creative impulses, allowing for the production of art, science, and technology.

The following are some notable installations that I will be talking about:

1. Inverted Globe, Giant Connecting Block Town

This was the first installation that caught my attention. It was located inside a secluded room after walking through a dimly lit walkway. Outside the walkway,  I wasn’t able to see anything, but there were sounds projecting from the inside which lured me in.

Once I entered the room, I was surprised to see the entire space being projected with colourful and popping visuals, definitely not what I would expect after walking through that dark walkway.

There were movable objects on the ground, which were meant to be moved around to reconstruct the route. Here is a video of me and Ashley playing with the objects:

This interactive artwork reacts to our input and ultimately develops into a vibrant, thriving cityscape. The moving cars, trains, planes, and boats were projected around the whole room on all four walls, which makes the experience very immersive.

Notable interactivity components: Projection & Sound.

 

2. Sketch Aquarium

This I would say, is the most famous work in the entire exhibit.

This iconic installation features a digitally rendered, aquatic world of underwater animals. Participants of all ages use their imaginations to create fantastic and colorful sea creatures on paper. 

They are then digitally scanned and brought to life to swim freely in the aquarium where they live. 

The crowd around this installation is undeniably the most as compared to the others, and I do see a reason why. Size does matter a lot in an installation, as humans we get drawn to things which are big scale. Here is Since the projection is huge, roughly 5m high and 20m wide, most of the visitors are intrigued and captivated by the whole setup.

This interactive art made use of Do-It-With-Others (DIWO), a joint project development model that enables like-minded people to collaboratively work on a task. Without the visitors’ drawings, there would be no underwater animals, which defeats the whole purpose of this setup.

* Refer to this post as I shared a little more about what DIWO is:

Y2S1 | Interactive Media 1 | Inspiring Example of Interactive Art | Rhythm 0

Upon closer look at the underwater animals that were drawn by the visitors, I saw one that was standing out.

There was one octopus with the words “FREE HK”. In the midst of the current Hong Kong protest happening right now for almost 3 months, it is no surprise to see such portrayal of messages appearing there and then. I would consider this as protest art through collaborative work (the artist and the audience). Although I was slightly taken aback when I saw this, this made me ponder about how art is able to influence society, or even show underlying communication to the world through methods like this.

This reminded me of a work called “The Knitted Radio”, a project developed in collaboration with Irene Posch at Eyebeam Art + Technology Center in New York in 2014.

It is part of an ongoing investigation towards using traditional textile crafting techniques to create electronic components and devices from scratch. The tactile piece manifests how to knit a sweater that is also an FM radio transmitter. By equipping the wearer with the ability to occupy electronic space, the casual knitwear intends to inspire local, free communication structures. The experiment is dedicated to the diverse crowd involved in recent Gezi Park protests in Taksim Square, Istanbul.

Here is a link to understand The Knitted Radio further:

The Knitted Radio (2014)

 

Sounds similar, right? Using art to protest silently, with the help of interaction through technology.

Notable interactivity components: DIWO & Magnitude.

 

3. Sliding through the Fruit Field

Sliding through the Fruit Field is a playful and colourful interactive artwork designed for children that is projected onto a newly-designed slide. They first climb the stair to reach the peak before sliding down the stairs.

Visitors become a beam of life-giving sunlight, and as they glide down the slope, their energy is transferred to the fruit field, causing flowers and fruit to blossom and grow. As the different elements interact in the field, new seeds are sown, leading to new life.

This was undeniably the one the kids loved the most. To be honest, there were no adults in this segment at all.  The notion of sliding down the slide is surely a fun thing to do for all children, and I am sure that was what the artist wanted to achieve as well, judging from the last paragraph of the artwork label “Hey kids,” (pardon for the blur picture, it was dark inside the exhibit…)

I guess the concept of play is essential when it comes to creating an interactive artwork that wishes to involve and attract the younger crowd, and the artist has succeeded in doing so.

Notable interactivity components: Play.

 

Santuary

Brief

Away from the hustle-bustle of City in a Garden, enter into an idyllic digital wonderland for a moment of tranquility. Sanctuary is the oasis of calm in the center of Future World.

The following is the only installation in Santuary:

Impermanent Life: People Create Space and Time, at the Confluence of their Spacetime New Space and Time is Born

This installation, depicts cherry blossoms blooming and scattering, playing out the cycle of life and death. The existence of both human and nature is impermanent, because, no state, good or bad, lasts forever. A circle is born from our feet and radiates at a certain rhythm.

I went in for roughly 10 minutes, to see who would come in and stay as well. With no surprise, kids that enter this space lasted for not more than even 5 seconds. This installation provides the perfect environment for reflection and meditation, something which kids would not be able to appreciate.

I felt that this was a really nice setup. Amongst all the colourful and loud installations in the whole exhibit, this setup was the one that was the direct opposite of what we would have expected. Depending on the state of the environment, the circles created can either provide light or darkness to the entire space.

The background lo-fi music, together with the slow animation of the projection, gives a harmonious and peaceful feeling to the whole environment. This artwork is calm, but reactive at the same time. I feel that this is something that is not easy to achieve for an artwork, but the artist has managed to do so.

Notable interactivity components: Sound & Momentum.

Park

Brief

In Park, visitors are invited to have fun, to learn and play using a combination of physical activity and digital technology.
Here are some notable installations that got my attention:
1. Light Ball Orchestra
The whole area was filled with beachball-sized globes of multicoloured light, that itself already got me interested in the setup. The child in me got me kicking the balls around, which produced different sounds. It wasn’t really music, it was different tones of electrifying, one-of-a-kind orchestra. At the same time, the balls changes colour, creating a resonating effect throughout this dazzling environment.
Here is a video of Ruihong and me enjoying the playful and dynamic space:

Only when there is participation amongst the visitors, then the Light Ball Orchestra would be able to send out ripples in different directions to interact with others. By working together through pushing, bouncing and rolling the balls to continuously change the composition, color, and sound of the orchestra, this is another example of DIWO being used, which is often seen in many interactive artists’ works.

Notable interactivity components: Light & Sound.

 

2. Sketch Town

This installation is a depiction of a fictitious town, based on Singapore that includes recognizable landmarks, such as, ArtScience Museum, the Merlion and the Singapore Flyer.

This is super similar to sketch aquarium, whereby the visitor would use crayons and paper to draw a building, a car, or a plane for Sketch Town, and see how their urban design becomes part of a vast projected city.

The only difference is that we could physically interact with the projection through touch and movement, bringing the town to life. Touch a car, for example, and it will speed up, or change direction, as seen in the following video:

A little too underwhelming for this installation in my opinion as it was pretty similar to Sketch Aquarium, and I felt that Sketch Aquarium had more impact on me due to its large magnitude.

Notable interactivity components: The same as Sketch Aquarium, less magnitude.

 

Space

Brief

This marks the end of any visitors’ journey in the whole exhibit on a note of wonder by embarking outward and upward into astronomical Space.

There is only one installation called Crystal Universe in Space, which immersed me in what has been the subject of dreams, mythologies, artistic visions and scientific exploration since the dawn of human history.

Crystal Universe

This is undoubtedly my favorite installation in this exhibit!

Behold a seemingly infinite number of light particles inside the scintillating Crystal Universe. This stunning artwork is created with teamLab’s Interactive 4D Vision technology and over 170,000 LED lights, giving the illusion of stars moving in space. Move beyond the stars, and I start to encounter astrophysical phenomena such as planets, galaxies, and even gravitational waves.

I surrounded myself amongst the vastness of the cosmos, and it just feels so surreal. It is amazing just how LED lights are able to do such wonders. I must say the number of LED lights being used is a huge factor for the success of this installation. 

I’m also quite sure that this might be the most expensive installation, given the amount of money spent on all that 170,000 LED lights. It is amazing how everything is aligned so neatly and in order, which makes the setup so clean and organized.

It has a very simple interactivity: the light and body of the installation respond to our mass and motion, and the fabric of the universe changes by ‘swiping’ astrological phenomenon from smart devices within the installation. And that’s it, we just enjoy and watch them become part of the dazzling environment around us.

Not only does this setup look good on the inside, it was even more beautiful looking from the outside.

Truly a great work of art- strongly possessing both interactivity and aesthetics at the same time.

Notable interactivity components: Quantity & aesthetics.

Conclusion

It was an eye-opener to have a chance to visit this exhibit. I didn’t manage to join my class previously for the INTER-MISSION Interactive Project and I am glad I could make it for this visit.

Not going to lie, I have not visited the ArtScience Museum before, so this was my very first time and it was a wonderful experience. It has certainly given me a lot of inspiration and ideas for my future works, and I can’t wait for Future World’s next exhibit!

Y2S1 | Interactive Media 1 | INTER—MISSION Interactive Project | The Lapse Project

It was a pity that I could not make it for INTER—MISSION performance. I’ve heard many mixed reviews on the performance from my friends, while most said that it was a rather abstract work that was hard to understand, which I guess was probably an avant-garde one. As such, I had to research about INTER—MISSION, and to select one of their interactive projects presented from https://inter-mission.art/.

So, what is INTER—MISSION?

INTER—MISSION is an art collective initiated in 2016 by Singaporean artists Marcel Gaspar, Urich Lau, Shengen Lim, and Teow Yue Han. It focuses on interdisciplinary and collaborative works in video art, audiovisual, performance, installation, interactive art, and discourses of technology in art. Having collaborated on various projects both locally and abroad, the collective aims to inhabit the gap between technologically engaged artworks, artists and audiences — using technology not only as to enforce utilization of tools and medium, but to explore notions of human cognition and sentience. INTER—MISSION builds transnational networks to promote sustained dialogue and engagement with media practices. It creates a space that encourages collaboration, reflection, and participation in our ever-changing technological environment through interactive performances, installation, video screenings, international and interdisciplinary dialogues, and knowledge sharing.

In short, INTER—MISSION is an art collective that aims to alter the audience’s minds into deep mental activity through making heavy use of technology to bring the artwork and audience together over interactivity.

After reading on INTER—MISSION’s works on https://inter-mission.art/, I have chosen to research the work:

THE LAPSE PROJECT

“Does technology help us to remember, or forget?

As we develop new visions and modes of interaction with Singapore the city, how does our relationship to her monuments change? What constitutes our collective reality?

Toggling between the physical and the imaginary, and responding to the accelerated digitisation of our environment, The Lapse Project imagines a world that is constituted through interfaces where places of artistic and cultural identities become editable, and can just as easily be switched on or off. Through processes of digital manipulation, the multimedia installation “erases” familiar landmarks that now serve as spaces for the arts around Singapore’s Civic District – Singapore’s oldest building, The Arts House, National Gallery Singapore, National Museum of Singapore and the Singapore Art Museum.

The Lapse Project takes a multi-dimensional approach to question memory, space and legacy through lapses in structure, time, particle, text and image. Visitors are invited to embody these lapses, contemplating the presence and absence of sights and sites.”

The Lapse Project is split into 5 components:

  • VR Lapse
  • Particle Lapse
  • 24HR Lapse
  • Panorama Lapse
  • Journal Lapse

Here is an overview of each component.

1. VR Lapse

VR stands for virtual reality, a computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional image or environment that can be interacted with in a seemingly real or physical way by a person using special electronic equipment, such as a helmet with a screen inside or gloves fitted with sensors.

VR is getting more and more popular in this current era, taking over many forms of art as well. In VR Lapse, Singapore’s oldest colonial building, presently known as The Arts House, is digitally erased. The neo-Palladian architecture has gone through various uses and inhabitants, previously serving the former parliament prior to its present day function as a venue for the arts. This digital intervention suspends the viewer in a 360-degree view of the vicinity, as they situate themselves around the blank expanse of where The Arts House was supposed to stand and consider the absence of a historical monument. Photogrammetry is used to remove the familiar landmark, allowing for the viewers to experience the simulated reality of The Arts House’s disappearance. VR Lapse aims to trigger emotions of the audience by the experience of such a disappearance.

2. Particle Lapse

Everything lively has a vibration, particles vibrate and atoms are in a constant state of motion with their speed determining dif­ferent states. Sound and thought are also vibration, a manifestation of life. Syner­gising with VR Lapse, the micro vibrations of The Arts House and its visitors are collected via contact microphones and ampli­fied as feedback directly to the viewer, confusing the experience of a singular real­ity through spectral sounds that suggest other variations of embodied experiences. Pitting the vibration of sound against the physical infrastructure of the building, a lapse in particle occurs.

3. 24HR Lapse

Viewers from exactly 24 hours ago float into the gallery on the CRT monitor, spectators of the past appear to coexist in the same space and time collapses, showing no clear distinction between the past or the present.

CRT stands for cathode-ray tube, a vacuum tube that contains one or more electron guns and a phosphorescent screen, and is used to display images

These apparitions are also suggestive of the seemingly obsolete technology of CCTV surveillance that is being rapidly replaced by data mining. The overlapping of spaces and people converges in a complex web of algorithmic analysis that challenges our perception of reality as an eerie simulacrum.

It might be hard to understand so here is a live video of what went down for this component:

Posted by INTERーMISSION on Saturday, 28 April 2018

4. Panorama Lapse

In Panorama Lapse, The National Museum of Singapore, National Gallery Singapore, Singapore Art Museum are erased digitally from their respective locations in the city, as though they were never extant within the Singaporean landscape. As relics from Singapore’s colonial past, these institutions also complement The Arts House as bastions of culture and the arts in Singapore today. Panorama Lapse is presented as a video projection triptych that shows the surrounding street views from various vantage points in the vicinity of the three major cultural institutions. In their absence, what is left behind is a haunting expanse of space, left perhaps to incubate other imaginative possibilities.

Here are some examples of what were shown on the screens:

Panorama Lapse negotiates the imaged landscape as a digital canvas, opening up discussions concerning vantage points, territorial boundaries and the ethics of digital manipulation. In this altered world, passers-by and visitors are still seen on location going about the usual interactions but with the absence of the physical buildings.

The screengrabs on screens were all rendered using Autodesk Maya, yet again another software that requires technology:

5. Journal Lapse

Integral to our collective’s collaborative approach, The Lapse Journal features the writings of Steve Dixon, Seng Yu Jin and Christina J. Chua. The writings engage with INTER-MIS­SION’s work from various perspectives and flesh out considerations of lapse as an artistic method, as an experience and also as a means of intervention. Steve Dixon introduces ideas of “lapse” that are central to the project, Seng Yu Jin expands on “lapse” as a strategy that disrupts the representation of realities and time and Christina J. Chua relates the disappearance of institutions to amnesiac breaks in memory.

Through these 5 components, we could tell that The Lapse Project is an art collective dedicated to discourses of technology in art. It inhabits the gap between technologically engaged artworks by the artists, with the audience.

Although all 5 components made use of technology, each component is special and different in its own way. I realized these components focuses on different interactivity, mainly:

  • Visual (VR Lapse & Panorama Lapse)
  • Sound (Particle Lapse)
  • Mind (24HR Lapse & Journal Lapse)

So how do I feel about The Lapse Project?

In today’s world, digital media is taking over everything else. People are slowly losing sense of what is real and what is virtual. The virtual world provides perfection and contentment and they dive deep into it unknowingly, not knowing that it is filled with manipulation and fake news.

The art of The Lapse Project’s was to present a world filled with flaws and glitches. As such, The Lapse Project uses different forms of technology which includes visual and sound to reproduce a representation of the real world, to twist and contort the audience into thinking that it is the reality.

In VR Lapse and Panorama Lapse, the concept of removing cultural places was a response to Urich Lau’s The End of Art Report (2013), which was showcased at Singapore Biennale 2013. The End of Art Report engaged the media to investigate the worth and importance of The Singapore Art Museum, The National Museum of Singapore and The National Art Gallery, by creating fabricated news report which says that all three museums were compelled to close down due to economic, political and societal reasons. As such, the goal behind VR Lapse and Panorama Lapse was to allow the audience to feel what it would be like if all three museums were really demolished through visual disruption. Some might not even realize the removal of these cultural places. Thus, different audience will experience different emotions, from a sense of loss to apathy.

24hr Lapse could be influenced, from the dialogue with Urich Lau and Warren Khong’s col­laborative exhibition titled Light-Space at Objectifs — Centre for Film and Photogra­phy in 2016. Light-Space was an exhibit where the audience views themselves in a room through a live feed that was projected as fragmented images with static-interfer­ence. The overlap of past and present in 24hr Lapse destroys the Greenwich Mean Time, which is the mean solar time at the Greenwich meridian, adopted as the standard time in a zone. As such, audiences were able to view themselves and also people who were at the exhibit 24 hours ago at the same time, distorting their presence at that very moment as they see “specters” surrounding them. Both Light-Space and 24hr Lapse intended for the audience to be the main focus of the work of art.

Particle Lapse comes into play by projecting the vibrations that were caught inside the microphone 24 hours ago, into the surroundings. The idea of having eerie static vibrations could be traced to philosopher Jacques Derrida in Spectres de Marx (1993). Der­rida likes the idea of having incorporeal spirits in his works, as he felt that it could warp reality into an uncertain virtual world.

Therefore, all five components work together to form The Lapse Project. The Lapse actually simulates the audience, forcing them to think and reflect on the importance of having culture in this generation, where the real and virtual are starting to get progressively more and more obscure. This is truly impressive as it follows INTER—MISSION’s vision as mentioned by me above- to alter the audience’s minds into deep mental activity through making heavy use of technology to bring the artwork and audience together over interactivity.

I must say that there was a lot of thought bring put into making such a deep interactive art, and I am very dazzled by the whole process, to the final execution of the whole work of art.

 

Y2S1 | Interactive Media 1 | Inspiring Example of Interactive Art | Rhythm 0

The world we live in now depends so much on technology. Digital has changed everything, and it is only going to continue. Digital is the future. When it comes to interactive art in this era, we are dealing with so much coding and programming, exploring the realms of technology.

Let us shift ourselves back in time when technology has not prospered. How did interactive art come about when there was no digital elements being put in place, but just the art itself?

Let me share with you my example of a thought-provoking interactive art, which inspired me in almost all my works that I had done so far:

Rhythm 0

by Marina Abramović

Since the beginning of her career in Belgrade during the early 1970s, Abramovic’s body has always been both her subject and medium. Exploring the physical and mental limits of her being, she has withstood pain, exhaustion, and danger in the quest for emotional and spiritual transformation. This particular blend of epic struggle and self-inflicted violence was borne out of the contradictions of her childhood: both parents were high-ranking officials in the socialist government, while her grandmother, with whom she had lived, was devoutly Serbian Orthodox.

Rhythm 0 was a 6-hour long interactive art by Marina Abramović, a Serbian performance artist.

The work was held in a rather huge enclosed room, with her standing still in the middle, and a long table draped with a white cloth filled with 72 props that she had placed before the audiences were invited into the room.

Here is a short clip of the interactive art:

Some of the props include:

  • pocket knife
  • candle
  • needle
  • kitchen knife
  • hammer
  • metal spear
  • razor blades
  • alcohol
  • wire
  • sulphur
  • metal pipe
  • scalpel

and, a gun with bullets.

These were the written instructions:

“Instructions.
There are 72 objects on the table that one can use on me as desired.

Performance
I am the object.
During this period I take full responsibility.

1974
Duration: 6 hours (8pm–2am.)
Studio Morra, Naples

As such, the audiences were welcomed to use any of the props on Abramović, who subjected herself in this place of activity. A famous American art critic Thomas McEvilley, who was present, wrote:

“It began tamely. Someone turned her around. Someone thrust her arms into the air. Someone touched her somewhat intimately. The Neapolitan night began to heat up. In the third hour, all her clothes were cut from her with razor blades. In the fourth hour, the same blades began to explore her skin. Her throat was slashed so someone could suck her blood. Various minor sexual assaults were carried out on her body. She was so committed to the piece that she would not have resisted rape or murder. Faced with her abdication of will, with its implied collapse of human psychology, a protective group began to define itself in the audience. When a loaded gun was thrust to Marina’s head and her own finger was being worked around the trigger, a fight broke out between the audience factions.”

When the gallery announced the interactive art was over, and Abramović started to move again, all the audience left, unable to face her as a person. Abramović stated that this work of art “pushed her body to the limits”, and that the experience she drew from this was that “in her own performances she could go very far, but if she leaves decisions to the public, she could be killed”.

This interactive art really made me think deep. Different people perceive the word “interactive” in “interactive art” differently. For me, the word “interactive” has to cover either one of these concepts- Co-creation or Do-It-With-Others (DIWO). My personal definition for these concepts are as follows:

  • Co-creation: Creating something yourself, together with the aid from others.
  • DIWO: Creating something together with others.

Hence, I feel that Rhythm 0 made use of the DIWO concept. The consequences of the interactive art are produced by both Abramović, and the audience. Some might argue that Abramović did not play a part in the final outcome, but I beg to differ. The fact that Abramović allowed the audience to take part and to use the props on her shows her consent, and this consent plays a huge role in this interactive art. Without her consent, there would not have been any outcome at all. It would just be a static art.

Thus, the concept, or rather technique, of using DIWO is very important in interactive art. Without DIWO, there would not be any interaction at all, the work of art would just be fixed and stagnant, with no interplay.

Next, I would like to address the context and theme behind Rhythm 0. I’m sure some of us might find no purpose in this interactive art- why did Abramović put herself in such a sadistic and cruel spot? This is how uncomfortable interactions comes in. Last semester, I did a research on uncomfortable interactions, so please do screen through it as I’ll be explaining Rhythm 0 in terms of uncomfortable interactions.

You can view my research here:

Y1S2 | Experimental Interaction | Research Critique 4 | Uncomfortable Interactions

In summary of what uncomfortable interactions is, it is using the idea of discomfort to design the work of art. In many situations and in many art forms, we only talk about giving the user a good experience. However, in uncomfortable interactions, it is the total opposite.

The whole interactive art of Rhythm not only gives physical discomfort to Abramović herself, but also mental discomfort to the audience. Those of them who were not involved with the props might feel uncomfortable after seeing the others using them on Abramović, especially when it does significant harm on her. What surprised me was that discomfort does not have necessarily lead to a detrimental outcome, yet it might even provide a better experience for the user. There are three main aspects for uncomfortable interactions, they are:

  • Entertainment
  • Enlightenment
  • Sociality

In short, entertainment is brought up through the usage of the props by the audience while enlightenment is when both Abramović and the audience both feel physical and mental discomfort respectively. Lastly, sociality happened at the end. I mentioned above that when the gallery announced the interactive art was over, and Abramović started to move again, all the audience left, unable to face her as a person. This is what I call “disconnect to connect”. The audience immediately disconnects from the whole interactive art as they were not able to come up against the final situation. However, little did they know this is how the whole interactive art connects- this is what Abramović wanted to achieve.

“Rhythm 0 was exemplary of Abramović’s belief that confronting physical pain and exhaustion was important in making a person completely present and aware of his or her self.”

The audiences (those that made use of the props) walking away made them aware of his or her presence and actions, and the synergy amongst them is then built upon. This is what I meant by “connect to disconnect”. As such, the use of uncomfortable interactions left a huge impression on the audience, which further enhances the work of art.

In conclusion, Rhythm 0 is a very impactful work of interactive art in my opinion. It might be a really simple set up while looking at it by itself, just Abramović herself and props on the table. However, when you take a step back and look into the bigger picture, the interactions involved and the many hidden messages behind each and every action as mentioned above shows the amount of thought process bring placed into this interactive art. As such, this interactive art really inspired me in my artworks that I had done, and I am sure it will continue to influence me in my future works as well.

 

References:

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Marina-Abramovic

https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/abramovic-rhythm-0-t14875

http://www.underground-england.co.uk/news/marina-abramovic-rhythm-0

Marina Abramovic’s Rhythm 0