. community —

the interactive image in architecture

I've not seen "Can you Digit?", but my impression is that it is
largely a screen based exhibition. Whilst I recognise that screen based work is
a relatively standardised and cheap option for a gallery or curator it is also
the case that it has severe limitations. If as an artist you wish to work
within the frame that the screen represents then that's fine, but if you wish
to go beyond its conventions, and work outside the "readings" associated with
the screen, then you have to find another strategy. There are various options
here, of course.

You can do it whilst still using the monitor. Here I think of Gary Hill's piece
(sorry, can't remember its name, so I'll have to describe it) where he had a
row of montitors (stripped out of their cases revealing the tubes - a standard
trick, of course) at about head height running across the gallery to its full
extent. This rendered the structure architectural, as it had the appearance of
a being integrated into the room, even essential to the walls staying upright.
On the monitors were seen images of the body - or of two bodies, in stacatto
flashes, etc. The effect was of an "eye" (the camera) travelling through the
space and revealing the subject in a strobe like manner. As such, Hill was
playing with our sense of time in the same manner as he was with our sense of
space and place. This is very sophisticated work indeed.

The alternative to using the monitor is to place the image outside the box and
into the space itself (usually by using video projection). Most works that have
used projection have retained the characteristics of the video image, or in
some way made use of a cinematic quality. But there is no reason why it has to
be like that. A projected image can be any shape, ratio or size you like (at
least with higher-end projectors).

My own approach here (refered to by Sean Cubitt in a recent post comparing my
work and that of Miroslav Rogala - whose work I am unfamiliar with) is perhaps
pertinent. Sean's comment was as follows "Like Rogala, Biggs is in a space
where old and new media interface – dance, gardening… –; both seem to me to
be involved in discovering a spatial art that happens when architecture meets
transmission." I have to admit I don't understand the reference to dance or
gardening (although I often use dancers in my work) but his noting a relation
between architecture and transmission is precise. Once you project into a
defined space (whether a TV box, or a massive architectural structure) you are
stuck with it. The option of working with an existing structure, which itself
is fully articulated, does however allow you to shift a reading away from its
origins. The images may have originated on a monitor (as in computer monitor)
but once integrated into the arhitectural site the individual images that make
up the full image become seperate objects - the frame imposed in cinema or
video evaporates. The viewer is left with the impression that each indivdual
abject is a seperate projection/image.

The use of interactivity (and object oriented software) extends this
impression, as each individual object (in my work that is usually a human
figure) is individually interactive with the viewers and with each other. It's
a bit like watching and playing with interactive public sculpture (like those
figures you see along the top of Baroque public buildings, usually depicting
dignatories, or the muses, or whatever) but where the medium is light rather
than stone.

I don't want to go into a long description of my own work here, but only wish
to show that there are a broad range of options available to the artist which,
whilst related to the televisual, do not need to reference it. In an earlier
post I mentioned the "old" idea of "expanded media". Here I am talking about
what I understand this term to mean.