If our eyes were to be turned into a camera, it would be a rather poor device. More precisely, it would not resemble a single-frame snapshot camera, but a video stream of a mostly blurred visual field with only spots of clarity. Our eyes move rapidly and continuously update the image in the brain, and it has been concluded that the brain, resembling a high-tech processor, cleans up the received input. Paradoxically, one of the functions of photography is to remind us of the impossibility of our eyes to perceive reality as a still image - as the saccadic scanning of our eyes show, there is nothing fixed or stable in nature. Matter is always in flux.
In his artistic practice, Rune Peitersen explores precisely this aspect of the visual apparatus through a research project he started two years ago. This summer, he presented the most recent series of his results in Ellen de Bruijne Projects in Amsterdam, in a show entitled “Saccadic Sightings: Einstein and Bohr.” In a secluded room, one was able to indulge in the three main elements of the show: a short text on Einstein and Bohr, Observing Uncertainty - an enigmatic large photograph of a hallucinatory scene covered with a map of small printed squares, accompanied by Observer Effect - a series of smaller black photographs with dots of visual clarity representing each of the square from the large photograph.
With this latest work, the Texas-based artist duo breaks new ground in the development of their sophisticated "story-telling machines". Cliff Hanger's narrative is assembled from five separate scene-generating contraptions that output timed segments of a choreographed black and white "movie". The atmosphere of their work is akin to Ansel Adams and Hiroshi Sugimoto photography imbued with early David Lynch film noir.
The creation of these works is a collaborative process between the artists: Shore develops the mechanics and the set-scenes, while Fisher programs the microchips and composes the soundtracks using original compositions, digital audio samples and mechanically operated instruments. The combination of all these elements results in a poetic complexity that is both surreal and cinematic.
Homebrew Electronics is a series on the Rhizome blog. For these posts, I will be conducting studio visits with artists and inventors who create unique electronic instruments.
Last week, I met with Steven Litt of CrudLabs at his Greenpoint apartment. While a graduate student at NYU’s ITP program, Steve developed a machine known as the CrudBox. Central to his installations and performances, the CrudBox allows users to plug electronic or electromechanic devices into a 16 step, 8 channel step sequencer. While normal sequencers draw from a set bank of sounds, the CrudBox allows one to plug in devices such as turntables or solenoids or power tools, opening up the range of sounds one can sequence.
In his living room, Steve had plugged in seven portable turntables into a CrudBox.
The exterior of this version of the CrudBox was designed by Steve’s friend artist Panayiotis Terzis, who silkscreened all the imagery on the exterior.
The turntables operate off AC voltage, and the CrudBox runs off DC, so Steve had set up a system of high voltage relays so each turntable can be individually activated without any issues. These relay modules allow any wall powered devices to be easily plugged in and sequenced by CrudBox.
In order to control a turntable, the switch at the top left hand side of the CrudBox must be pointed toward the turntable one wants to start.
The sequences are controlled by the bottom row of buttons, and the tempo by the knob. The sequences tell the turntables when ...
SOUND BARRIER is a new work by Maia Urstad, a sound installation consisting of some 130 CD-and cassette radios assembled as a wall. Visually, these devices function as elements in a structure inspired by historical stone constructions
SOUND BARRIER relates to earlier works such as STATIONS; a sound installation deriving its visual basis from the Roman arch; and CLEOPATRA'S NEEDLES; a concert performance inspired by Pharonic Egyptian structures.
The creative impulses for SOUND BARRIER originate in the historical remains of buildings, i.e., ruins. Technology, here, electronics - a development from our own time, comprises the 'stones'.
The CD-and cassette radios in the installation have a double, visual and conceptual function. On an auditory level they are mediating the sound image implemented in the installation. Visually they are the concrete building blocks, the obvious function in the wall, but they also reflects issues related to the technical development and our culture of consumption.
The CD players in the wall are playback units for a composition of electronically treated sounds borrowed from radio waves, Morse code, FM- and satellite radio etc. Sound signals that also will be obsolete and forgotten sooner than we might expect.
The arrangement includes six exceptional exhibits from the world of sounds and acoustics. At first sight looking trivial, each object incorporates a very unique ability.
The magical character of each object is accompanied with a little story, almost completely concealing the existence of technical components such as speakers or sensors. Only small connection ports as well as the uniform black finishing point to thier unusual abilities.
In form and functionalty all these exhibits pursue John Maeda’s "Simplicity". They are enjoying to use, they are surprising and one wants to explore and investigate them.
Digital Arts and New Media (DANM) Technical Coordinator