Biggs Replies to Ringler
On 9.9.96 Marie Ringler wrote:
I agree with Boris Groendahl: the Ars Electronica Center is quite
disappointing. It's crammed with too many gadgets, and not enough space
is devoted to reflection. But yes, I admit I also liked the CAVE. Not
for it's content and graphics, but for the wonderful world of VR.
Simon Biggs replies:
I found CAVE adolescent and gamelike in its basic concept. Technically
it was crude. Yes, there are details where you can see an artist may
have been involved...but few and far between, and in that context
deprived of any real meaning. Dan Sandin has done some good things in
his life (and he's a nice guy) but this is not one of them. I saw the
preview of the CAVE at Digitale (Koln) last year, and had fears then.
They have been realized in technicolor.
Marie Ringler wrote:
Talking about VR, I think I should mention my absolute favorite in Linz,
the Inter Dis-communication Machine developed by Kazuhiko Hachiya,
nicknamed "Chicken VR."
Simon Biggs replies:
I also thought this was one of the best works. But it suffered. The idea
of seeing the world through someone else's eyes is not new, nor doing
that simultaneously, but experiencing the reality of it is
cool...but...a big but...the technology hardly worked. The b&w headup
display continuously broke up and glitched. The Angel wings were
definitely bad taste (and this from someone who has often used angel
wings in his work). Nevertheless, this work, with all its short-comings
and lack of fine judgement, left the other works in the shade.
I wanted to like Simon Penny's sound piece...except Felix Hess did it so
much more elegantly, and has done for 20 years. I wish people working in
this field would do their research on what has been done before.
This conference has again showed one very obvious thing to me: that the
format of conferences like Ars have survived themselves. I admit I enjoy
these big family reunions, but how about some more interesting and
productive ways of doing them? Why not invite people to take part in
week-long workshops on specific topics with public presentations of the
Some of us have known that for about 10 years now.
The basic problem is that the money does not follow the artists...but
the hard/software companies. This is compounded by academics travelling
on their departmental budgets (I know, been there, done that), whilst
the artists get paid a pittance to turn up and gig. I wonder how many
full-time artists (people who only make their living from their
(non-commercial) artwork - not teaching or consultancy) were able to
afford to be there? The problem with all these events (Ars, Doors,
Siggraph, ISEA) is that art/creativity/criticism is not at the forefront
of the agenda. Some events (EMAF, Digitale, Videofest) are better. But
nowhere is perfect. Now, there is a challenge! Anyone willing to engage