Photo: Andreas Nicolas Fischer.
A kind of cold weather antipode of summer's "Love Parade," the Transmediale 2014 media arts festival was a beacon of light in the long dusk of a Berlin winter. As a twist on the usual curated exhibition, this year's festival opted for an ad-hoc "Art Hack Day" (AHD) approach, where submitting artists were expected to create new and original artworks in the span of two days (and nights). Opening the exhibition with a more down-to-earth feel, AHD ultimately resembled a DIY, garage-style party instead of a highbrow exhibition space.
PXL, Rainer Kohlberger, 2012
As the iPhone just celebrated its fifth year on the market, artists have already made a substantial dent in the commercially lucrative world of Apple’s AppStore. Despite this success, artists are still pushing forward to build apps that further integrate with the device’s sensors and location-based capabilities. Rather than working solely within the context of software art as I have covered in two previous articles on the subject for Rhizome, there is a focus now on artists who are interacting with the physical world by using the device’s internal sensors, location capabilities, constant Internet connectivity, and built-in cameras.
Using the camera as a sensor, “Konfetti” by German based designer Stephan Maximillian Huber visualizes the image of its subject into countless dots. In effect, the camera image is translated into virtual confetti that follows any movement and creates an ever changing images based on which camera is selected. The dot’s movement is correlated to the detected flow captured by the camera and by repelling other dots, which also move as you touch and drag them. Huber explains over email how the app works as a reflection based art tool. “The app started as an iPad-only app, and on an iPad the app acts like a mirror, showing an abstract reflection of yourself. You'll get a clear image of yourself only when you concentrate on the process of the app, and don't move too fast. It's like contemplating about yourself and the image of yourself. And as your thoughts and emotions aren't static the image the app generates is dynamic and adapts to minimal movements and new ...
In the summer of 2009, I wrote an article here at Rhizome about the burgeoning activities of media artists creating new works or updating versions of their older interactive screen-based projects for Apple's iPhone and iTouch mobile devices. As the article made its way throughout the blogosphere, comments surfaced ranging from criticism of the "closed world of Apple's App Store and iPhone devices" to a championing of the availability of inexpensive multi-touch technology now available to artists who had been waiting for a platform that could adequately display and allow for the type of interaction their projects demanded. A year after the article came out, the draw of these devices and their potentially expansive audience has become even more irresistible to artists enough so that several more "apps" have surfaced. The following article catalogs several new iPhone works which have emerged over the past year, works that are pioneering the next generation of portable media art.
Jonah Brucker-Cohen is a researcher, artist, professor and writer. His writing has appeared in numerous international publications including WIRED Magazine, Make Magazine, Neural, Rhizome, Art Asia Pacific, Gizmodo and more, and his work has been shown at events such as DEAF (03,04), Art Futura (04), SIGGRAPH (00,05), UBICOMP (02,03,04), CHI (04,06) Transmediale (02,04,08), NIME (07), ISEA (02,04,06,09), Institute of Contemporary Art in London (04), Whitney Museum of American Art's ArtPort (03), Ars Electronica (02,04,08), Chelsea Art Museum, ZKM Museum of Contemporary Art (04-5),Museum of Modern Art (MOMA - NYC)(2008), and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) (2008). He received his Ph.D. in the Disruptive Design Team of the Networking and Telecommunications Research Group (NTRG), Trinity College Dublin. He is an adjunct assistant professor of communications at NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) and in the Media, Culture, Communication dept of NYU Steinhardt School of Culture Education and Human Development.
2009 was an important year for the Internet as a whole. The advent of web 2.0 and "crowdsourcing" initiatives has enabled a much richer array of content from users who might never have ventured onto the Internet in previous years. My top 10 sites for this year cover a wide range of topics from art made for mobile devices with iPhoneArt.org to evidence of both information saturation with Information Aesthetics and physical and pseudo intellectual abundance with This is Why You're Fat and There I Fixed It, to strange observances of mistakes in the public realm with Fail Blog. In addition to these crowdsourced content sites, I also see some ongoing potential with artist-created sites such as Brett Domino's lowtech approach to music making ...
As the niche genre of software art expands beyond the web and into mobile devices, media artists are finding ways to integrate their work into a new form of business model. Instead of giving away your work for free on the web, Apple's iPhone and iTouch devices provide an ample platform for distribution (through the Apple App Store) and hardware support for novel ways to experience screen-based work.
September 7 - 12, 2002
By Jonah Brucker-Cohen (firstname.lastname@example.org)
If you walked barefoot into the lounge at the O.K. center in Linz this week,
you might think you reached the beach of the future. Instead of sand,
millions of tiny plastic beads lined the floor of this blacklight neon room
with low cushions and a fleet of laptops displaying net art projects. This
year's Ars Electronica took the theme "Unplugged: Art as the Scene of Global
Conflicts" a metaphor for the state of post 9/11 artistic practice amid an
international climate of political tension surrounding globalization,
terrorism, and threats of war. As it was my first visit to Ars, I tried to
inhale as much stimuli as possible without suffering my own blue screen of
The festival consisted of 8 venues scattered throughout the smog-infested,
small town of Linz. The museum built specifically for electronic art, the
Ars Electronica Center (AEC), is a fairly antiseptic space, and this year
hosted the "Hidden Worlds" exhibit featuring Golan Levin's "Hidden Worlds of
Noise and Voice." An augmented reality simulation that pinpoints the
location of audible sounds and through display goggles renders 3D worm-like
colors emanating from the source of the sounds. The project gave everything
from high-pitch squeals to bass thumping burps a virtual counterpart. Also
at AEC was Motoshio Chikamori and Kyoko Kunoh's "Tools Life" an interactive
installation consisting of various tools (e.g., hammers, cheese graters)
that launch animations in the object's shadow when touched. The focus of the
work was to illuminate and display invisible data layers moving within
The more spacious O.K. Center hosted the honorable mentions and winners in
the CyberArts category, which focused on themes of simulation and
representation. Golden Nica winner, David Rokeby's "n-cha(n)t" asked what it
would sound like if a network of computers chanted in unison - computers
hanging from the ceiling use speech recognition technology to transform
visitor's vocal input into lyrics. Taking telepresence to sonic heights, was
Atau Tanaka and Kasper Toeplitz's "Global String," a long steel cable
stretching from floor to ceiling connected to another cable's resonant sound
frequencies over the Internet. Also inspired by physical movement through
spatial mapping, "Body Brush" developed by a group from Hong Kong, generated
a colorful 3D landscape through "Digital Action Painting" where
visitors could dance on
the floor while their movements and gestures are tracked in space. The crowd
pleaser was Volker Morawe and Tilmann Reiff's "PainStation", a rendition of
Pong in an armored cabinet where users have to place their hands on elements
that quickly heat up or be whipped by motorized strings if they miss the
ball with their paddle. In effect, the threat of physical harm provided a
compelling incentive to engage strangers in the game.
The festival's defining strength seemed to be embedded in the energy and
rawness of the performances. Japan's 66b/cell group upstaged most of the
events with its epic show at the Peter Behrens Haus featuring alien-like
costume design, embedded LED clothing, perfect projection synchronization
with dance moves, techno beats, and a dancer painted in gold with long
spikes emanating from the tips of his fingers. Similarly, "Vivisector" by
Klaus Obermaier and Chris Haring featured dancers moving within video
projections and shifting their bodies to distort and shape incoming light
movements. Rounding out the live events was the "Gameboyzz Orchestra
Project", a collection of six on-stage practitioners creating 8-bit console
sounds through customized sequencers connected to drum machines.
The symposium's focus on global conflict and media representation post 9/11
turned into a backlash against the political motivations of the exhibited
art. Was the art political? Did it have a social message? If so, does this
quality make it more or less valuable? Of the winners, Rafael-Lozanner
Hemmer's full scale "Body Movies" installation addresses the relational
structures between urban landscapes and the people inhabiting them. His
project raised the questions: "What is a city today? When does it begin an
when does it end?" The answer seems to be based more on psychology than
physical boundaries since everyone who answered seemed to have a different
opinion. In Net Vision, RSG's Carnivore project looked at the political
junction of art and government surveillance and how public networks can be
manifested through artistic output with real-world input. Also looking at
public space was It's Alive's mobile phone, location-based, pervasive game
"Bot-Fighters," which tracks the relative position of people through a city,
and engages them in a combat simulation as a robot avatar. Basing game play
on fears of surveillance and tracking, the project transforms public space
into a recreational arena similar to earlier, localized games like
Ars Electronica, the decisive festival for digital creativity, is an
for artists working in this realm. The festival's longevity (it was
established in 1987)
stands as its greatest strength and artists have evolved their careers via the
relationships and connections the event enables. Despite its ambition
to be a global
leader in the recognition of digitalarts, Ars seems still committed
by the 'little guy'. In the digital domain, the aesthetic pressures
of the professional
art world are present but less obtrusive. There's still no
Michelangelo of digital art
and that's a good thing. Festivals like Ars challenge and provoke us enough to
prove that the promise of artistic perfection is only upstaged by the
that failure is more interesting.
-Jonah Brucker-Cohen (email@example.com)
Jonah Brucker-Cohen|Sugar House Lane
Research Fellow | Bellevue
Media Lab Europe|Dublin 8, Ireland
(w) +353 1 4742853 (m) +353 1 087 7990004
By Jonah Brucker-Cohen (firstname.lastname@example.org)
As technology speeds into the 21st century, it's inevitable new
spaces to experience art
will materialize. From the virtual Guggenheim to the Whitney's Artport,
major institutions are taking notice and creating hybrid physical /
online worlds where artists can exhibit their work. These new platforms
for both artist and audience allow for mainstream access to commissioned
work and a global avenue for audience interaction in the art making
process through online participation. But what lies beyond the
terrestrial and digital horizon for art? What new territories are left
Joining the venue-pioneering mission, London's Tate Gallery is taking
one "giant leap" into a new frontier for the art world: Space.
Tate in Space (www.tate.org.uk) has commissioned artist Susan Collins
to create a fictional venture by the museum meant to provoke dialog
about the possibilities of intergalactic art.
"Tate in Space is really more involved with examining the (primarily wester=
cultural ambitions of an institution and cultural production rather
than space art per se," explains Collins who worked with the Mullard
Space Science Laboratory, University College London on the
feasibility of launching a Tate Satellite "[Tate in Space] seeks to
provide a thorough
examination, history and discussion into issues surrounding space art
and is intended to raise questions, provoke thought and encourage
discourse in relation to ourselves and our own ambitions." The online
gallery includes pictures of earth from the orbiting satellite, programs
for audience participation, and a submission form to send designs of
your own model for the orbiting gallery.
Although anti-gravity museum gift-shops might be a world away, artists
are beginning to embrace the potential of this new landscape. Arthur
Wood's "Cosmic Dancer" (1993) (www.cosmicdancer.com), an aluminum
snake-like sculpture that inhabited the MIR space station was built
specifically for a weightless environment as an art piece that would
enliven the drab conditions inside the vessel. His focus in creating the
work was to exploit the physiological, philosophical and new sensory
experiences of space travel. Similarly, artist Richard Clar's
(www.arttechnologies.com) project "Earth Star" (1997) features a ceramic
artwork created in space and comprised of rock samples that react to
heat generated by the spacecraft's re-entry. Other past space projects
including Frank Pietronigro's "Research Project Number 33" focus on
performance in weightless environments such as dancing, "action
painting", and video documentation.
Recently, Dublin-based artist Anna Hill's (www.annahill.net) project,
"Space Synapse" highlights the interactive possibilities between
space-based art and earth-based installation. The work is an autonomous
communications device developed in cooperation with the European Space
Agency that will blast into orbit and be deployed inside the
International Space Station (ISS). Despite Tate in Space's emphasis on
space functioning as a separate entity for art experience, Hill, a
graduate of RCA's Interaction Design program, asks how connections
between the two realms can augment new forms of creative expression.
In her case, Space Synapse will interact with art projects in gallery
and site-specific locations across the planet. For instance, her
earth-based work "An Eye Open to the Night" reacts to Space Synapse's
orbit and consists of a beehive-like structure visitors can
enter. "Copper windpipes directed at the sea will utilize solar energy
to power an interactive device triggered by frequencies from the ISS and
Space Synapse during hours of daylight," Hill explains. "An antenna will
pick up broadcast frequencies (when the ISS orbit appears on the
horizon) that will open the pipes allowing wind music to play within the
As we explore new areas of artistic expression beyond earthly realms,
possibilities seem limitless. Projects like Tate in Space, Space
Synapse, and Earth Star are merely starting points for interpreting not
only the physical and psychological impacts of space travel, but also
the interactive relationship between planet and space. "Twentieth
century culture with all its specialist knowledge and material concerns
is, I think, in crisis, " Hill admits. "Yet we rely on the natural world
and need a sense of the spiritual implicit within it." If that's the
case, the answers might actually be in the stars.
-Jonah Brucker-Cohen (email@example.com)
Related Space Art Links:
Tate in Space
Anna Hill - Space Synapse -
Ars Astronautica - Space Art Web Project -
Arthur Woods - Cosmic Dancer on Mir
Arts Catalyst - the science-art agency
International Association of Astronomical
Leonardo On-Line Space Art Special Project
Leonardo Space Art Working Group
Richard Clar - Art Techologies
THE DARKLIGHT DIGITAL FESTIVAL RETURNS in a new exciting venue
From Friday 20th to Sunday 22nd September 2002, Darklight Digital
Festival once again brings to Ireland the best in new digital cinema
Darklight screens short-films, documentaries, music videos, feature
films, and animations - innovative films that utilise digital
technology in their production. The Digital Hub sponsors Darklight 4.
Darklight 4 will take place in an exciting new city centre venue, the
former Lee's Cash n' Carry building on the corner of Thomas Street
and Crane Street, (neighbours to the Storehouse and Media Lab Europe,
and the Digital Hub)
There will be clear location markers on the day for those who are not
familiar with the site it is a ten minute walk from Dublin castle
For one weekend, this impressive space will be transformed into a
cinema and gallery: a perfect home for Darklight's eclectic and busy
series of events.
SELECTED HIGHLIGHTS OF DARKLIGHT 4 INCLUDE: a specially created
installation from DECAL, the WORLD PREMIERE of Glen Dimplex
Award-winning artist Paul Rowley's feature film AS LATHAIR, the
latest in cutting-edge digital art, short films and MOTION, a
selection of new music videos.
Darklight 4 will look at the theme of 'regeneration and new
generations', with it's CROSSING OVER programme, Rob Nilsson's SCHEME
6, a short programme of films produced and directed by NCAD and the
Educational Unit at the Department of Justice for Portlaoise
Prisoners, this programme will also look at work which deals with the
issues of immigration, and emigration out reach projects, there will
be an open forum discussion to tie in these ideas during the day.
DARKLIGHT 4: THE PROGRAMME
-OPENING EVENT: The festival will be launched by acclaimed Dublin
electronica duo DECAL, with FALKENS MAZE - a mixed media installation
created especially for Darklight 4.
-MEDIA LAB EUROPE (MLE): A selection of incredible new work from the
M.I.T. Media Lab programme, based in Dublin. Highlights include
Michael Lew's Office Voodoo (2002), an interactive sit-com where
viewers can manipulate the emotions of the protagonists using a
physical, graspable interface: voodoo dolls.
MLE will also feature installation work from Stefan Agamanolis and
Ben Piper, as well as IPO MADNESS, Jonah Brucker-Cohen's amazing
interactive, Internet connected domain-generating slot machine.
-NEW DIGITAL SHORTS: A diverse selection of the finest new short
films, from both home and abroad, utilising digital technology.
Highlights include THE RND# PROJECT (Random Number) by Richard
Fenwick, an ongoing series of short films that investigate and
question our hugely weird and wired reliance on, and for, technology.
-SCHEME 6: a new digital feature from Rob Nilsson, San Francisco
based film director and winner of both the Camera d'Or at Cannes (for
NORTHERN LIGHTS) and the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film
Festival (for HEAT AND SUNLIGHT). Nilsson is a pioneer of today's
digital revolution, and SCHEME 6 is the latest in his 9@Night film
series: a unique cycle of
street level dramatic feature films about the lives of 50 inner city
characters, utilising a cast that mixes homeless, inner city
residents with professional actors.
-CROSSING OVER, an insightful pick and mix of experimental digital
artists' work, commissioned between 1996-2001 for the annual Crossing
Over Micro- Festival of Digital Film Culture. This programme includes
work from Estonia, N. Ireland, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Ireland,
Hungary, England, Scotland, USA, and Croatia.
-MOTION: a selection of contemporary graphic/music-led exploratory
films and music promos, offering international work from Warp (
creative review /www.warprecords.com/animate.) and Ninja Tunes
alongside new, emerging Irish collectives such as Del9 and Daddy.
MOTION will also showcase new work from acclaimed designer and online
artist Motomichi Nakamura.
-AS LATHAIR- ABSENT- World Premiere:
Shot in the deserts and cactus forests of Mexico, and four years in
the making,As Lathair is the first feature length work by Glen
Dimplex Award winning artist Paul Rowley. Based loosely on the
Western, the film takes the genre and breaks it apart, presenting a
series of broken fragments, stories aligned closely to the seemingly
random order of dreams. The haunting soundtrack and hypnotic movement
of the images pulls us through a world unlike any other in
cinema,where nothing can be explained, but everything makes sense.
For full programme details please go to www.darklight-filmfestival.com
For press please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
or call Rachel O'Connor at 086 839 47 97
The Euro was supposed to make things easier for Europeans. With one
currency, travel and commerce are simplified and become ubiquitous. Despite
the changeover, questions emerge regarding preserving borders and European
national identities. Does one currency compromise cultural and social
individualism and traditions? If not, why do physical borders still exist
between member states?
In the art world, borders have been a pre-occupation among artists working
in every medium. From early border artists such as the Border Art Workshop
(http://sunsite.wits.ac.za/biennale/catalog/baw.htm) protesting the
Mexico/US border with mixed-media installations to Denmark's web-based
Border Crossing Hitlist (http://www.nicolette.dk/hitlist) that tracks
people's border crossing activities, territorial rights have figured
prominently in artistic expression. Through border art, questions arise as
to how cultural identity transcends physical borders, what psychological
obstacles these barriers represent, and how people respond to these both
personally, socially, and creatively.
On the European side, British techno-artist, Heath Bunting's project,
Borderxing guide (http://irational.org/borderxing), attempts to create a
virtual map and guide of how to cross European borders without papers. "I
have not been [to Europe] that much this year, " admits Bunting, "But I did
notice that I was often unsure which country I was in."
Instead of having the guide online, the project uses the web as a 'guide to
the guide', where the website features a collection of real-world computers
that carry the information. Therefore if you want to learn how to border
hack, you have to log on, find the closest physical host computer, get out
of your chair, and head out. People can volunteer a machine to be a 'host'
of the guide, but the computer must be publicly accessible for all.
By giving a physical location to the information we take for granted as
being online, Bunting has made a digital project that requires movement.
"For the sake of elite power, human movement is restricted and information
and money mobilized, " says Bunting. "This project intends to suggest the
reversal of this whereby humans are encouraged to move and the immaterial is
Ultimately, Bunting's goal is to make land-based borders irrelevant. Even
with the growing ubiquity of the Euro, the physical barriers between
neighboring states remains an obstacle for tourists and citizens. Borderxing
guide is a first step of social protest against the idea that physical
barriers can curtail the spread of culture across distance. If the currency
is the same, why isn't the continent unified? Or why not even create a
hybrid language that combines every accent? That might be a long shot,
but Bunting sees the future of borders as 'information-based borders' where
the only difference between countries is the information made accessible to
us while inside.
-Jonah Brucker-Cohen (email@example.com)
Ever wonder how many pollutants you generate by typing an email? Is the
electricity used to power this computer more than the power to build it?
Maybe if products were designed with energy consumption in mind, our fears
of shrinking natural resources would dissolve. As digital technology heads
for a sustainable relationship with the environment, artists are taking the
lead on creating innovative approaches to these questions.
From early environmentally conscious art like Robert Smithson's "Spiral
Jetty" (1970) to recent work like "The Bank of Time"
(http://www.thebankoftime.com/) which turns idle computer time into fertile
ground for desktop plants, there is a history of interlinking creative and
ecological practices. Contemporary artists such as Natalie Jeremijenko also
focus critical art practices towards environmental issues. Her project,
"Stump", which prints out a tree ring when a tree's worth of paper is
consumed, illustrates our continued dependence on shrinking resources in the
digital world. Working in urban space, "One Tree"
(http://cat.nyu.edu/natalie/OneTree/OneTreeDescription.html) clones a young
tree one thousand times and plants them around San Francisco to see the
ecological effects of different areas of the city on biologically identical
Working more in the realm of solving the global Greenhouse scare through
simple rules of interaction design is Co2nvert (http://www.co2nvert.com),
a new project by Irish designer Philip Phelan. The project features working
prototypes of innovative eco-conscious ideas with everything from the
"Snobby Toaster" that won't run on fossil fuel power to the "Buy-Sell Socket"
that lets you manually crank power back into the energy grid.
Phelan, a graduate of London's Royal College of Art - Interaction Design
program, begins with the simple idea that modifying the design of everyday
objects can not only enlighten us about personal energy use but also help
change our habits. "We need to take individual responsibility for Greenhouse
gas (GHG) emissions to make a real difference," explains Phelan. "We need to
introduce 'cues' and 'clues' into a domestic environment to modify
consumer's GHG-causing energy behavior patterns." This might sound like a
heady statement of early 90s Earth Day hype, but what types of alternatives
are possible? What has really changed since then?
Conceived for the home, CO2nvert's products like the "Greenhouse Fuse" rely
on our wall sockets being smart enough to know the type of appliance plugged
into them. If the quality of energy used by the appliance is unclean, the
fuse will blow. The "Carbon Sink Filter" is a packaged carbon-sink that
comes with tree seedlings that once planted, soak up the carbon dioxide
emissions generated. Similarly, the CO2nvert "Emissions Bill" is a monthly
reminder breaking down each household's global pollutant contribution. This
might entice you to ease up on your hair dryers and electric blender use. Or
if you worry about clean energy sources, the "Windwasher" flashes a message
on its LCD screen alerting us when off shore breezes are available to spin
CO2nvert's opus is "Appliance Weathermap", a real-time weather map featuring
flying dishwashers over your home country that signal the opportune time to
use natural energy. "In times of high winds or sunshine, appliance weather
maps should show the amount of power they hold so that, given enough
renewable energy resources, we can put our foot down at opportune times,"
Whether it's through personal choice or subtle differences in the appliances
or bills we receive everyday, projects like CO2nvert serve as a wake up call
to our energy consumption, a topic often elided in discourse about the
"virtual" and the implicit assumption that contemporary technoculture is
less materially damaging than other forms of industry. Artists continue to
challenge our habits of interaction with the planet, and attempt to shape
our relationship to precious natural resources. Despite the range of
environmentally conscious projects in both art and design, change is only
possible when our individual actions are manifested on a global scale. "If
we use interaction design to introduce such [ecological] 'feedback' into the
home or work," agree Phelan, " Then this can turn a small individual
difference into a massive collective one."
-Jonah Brucker-Cohen (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Jonah Brucker-Cohen | Media Lab Europe
Research Fellow | Sugar House Lane
Human Connectedness | Bellevue Dublin 8, Ireland
(h) +353 1 4760375 (w) +353 1 4742853 (m) +353 1 (0)87 7990004