March 13, 2009

Digital Art pg 7 - 137

Referring to our text, Digital Art by Christiane Paul, we will discuss digital technologies as both a tool and a medium during our class on March 25th.

Read and review pages 7 - 137 in preparation for your active participation in the discussion.

Post 3 questions + 3 observations that you have about digital technology as a tool and as a medium.

We will use your observations and questions to guide our discussion.

March 25, 2009

Questions and Observations of Amanda Rasmussen


Three things that stuck out to me were:

1. I was intrigued by the range for technology, as mentioned on page 29, where it described technology as not only an art medium but an everyday tool. This was in reference to the ability to merge photos to either create an art piece of major actresses or create aged photos of people involved in child abductions, kidnappings, or missing persons crimes.

2. I discovered that the supply of materials to create digital art is endless. An example was found on page 117, where there was discussion about remixing browser pages of CNN to create CNN Interactive Just Got More Interactive, a piece that intertwined music and viewer selection to create the “news” of the piece.

3. One repeating theme that I noticed was the virtual versus physical space. It was first mentioned on page 77, “virtual space would not be visible and accessible, without the screen’s grid of light, which is an essential element of this space’s construction.” The other comment I discovered was interpreting from the viewer’s perspective and its relation to virtual and physical space, “The virtual world that users experience may not physically exist and only part of it may be visible on the screen, but at the same time it always exists as a mathematical construct” (p. 96). This determines that we cannot have virtual space without physical space, and the creation of virtual space is primarily imaginative.

Three things I questioned were:

1. What are the limits of interactivity and participation in digital art? It seems as though some digital artwork has the ability to adjust to any viewer’s desires (p. 67).

2. If digital art is available for free on the internet, what is its actual cost to the viewer? How do you appropriate value a piece of digital art?

3. Where is digital art heading? What are your predictions for the future in terms of prevalence, usage, and possibilities?

~Amanda Rasmussen

observations and questions pp 3- 137

Three observations/questions on the characteristics of digital technology as a tool

One thing that fascinates me is the distinction made between art that uses digital technologies as a tool for the creation of traditional art objects such as photographs, prints, painting, sculpture, and music, and art that employs these technologies as its own medium.

I wonder if traditional arts and crafts will ultimately benefit and be enhanced by the utility of new media or if they will become threatened or extinct? I wonder if more labor-intensive crafts and techniques will become more valued or less valued in an increasingly rapid pace of new media and technology. And, if we value place a value on time and the concept of ‘labor intensity’ how does that transfer over in the new skills and techniques with the new media tools of hardware and software?

The history of the technology based in both the art world and science and technology intrigues me. I was excited to learn that so many examples of work referenced in the text Digital Art are available on YouTube in their entirety. I was impressed first hand with the possibilities provided through documentation and classification viewing the cited work of John Whitney (Catalog, 1961; Permutations, 1967; Arabesque, 1975), Charles Csuri (Hummingbird, 1967; Sinescape, 1967), Billy Kluver and EAT (Experiments in Art and Technology), and Liza Bear. I was very interested in learning more about the connections with OULIPO (Ouvroir de Litterature Potentielle) and Dadist influences, as well as the influence of the ready-mades of Duchamp as a predecessor for the appropriated ‘virtual object’, and the work of Robert Rauschenberg. The ideas and innovations of Vannevar Bush (globally linked database and conceptualization of the world wide web and Wikipedia); Norbert Wiener (cybernetics), Theodor Nelson coining and conceptualizing ‘hypertext’ and ‘hypermedia’, Alan Kay and his team creating the Graphic User Interface (GUI) and desktop metaphor is truly amazing and astounding to me.

How did they come up with this stuff? Clearly some of these people were experimenting with mind-altering recreational drugs.

“Photography, film, and video have always entailed manipulation –for example, of time and place through montage—but in digital media, the potential for manipulation is always heightened to such a degree that the reality of ‘what is’ at any given point is constantly open to question.” p 27

The possibilities of time travel through documentation of human acquisition of knowledge through digital technologies and new media just blows my mind. The boundaries between what is real and imaginary are totally exploded in a certain sense. In seconds we can access data and information that past scholars spent lifetimes accumulating tediously and methodically, recording in notebooks in dusty libraries. My worry is that loss of actual physical place and the sensory experience and tactile nature that brings. Aesthetically and philosophically the world becomes a veritable tabula rasa of experience, creative discourse and applied whatever. Through the use of virtual reality the traditional boundaries of space and time become blurred and multiple worlds become possible. History is transformed, while past, present, and future become morphed together into a simultaneous abstract experience within a present yet disembodied self. Social networking tools such as Face book allow us to transcend traditional restrictions and boundaries separating our friends and families geographically. We are able to chat to each other in real time from expansive distances across time zones. It raises the old question from Fireside Theater’s album title “How can you be in two places at once when you’re not anywhere at all?” Transcendance of traditional planes of space and time and of the physical body open the way for multiple new explorations of art through experience. Cognition, empathy, and all our senses are called into question and redefined with a new order.

Ephemeral nature

Increased opportunities emerge to preserve ideas and human knowledge through the collection, documentation and preservation of documents and accumulated images, texts, and sounds. One thing that worries me about the rapid change of technologies in software and hardware is the waste and lack of intentional recycling of materials. It seems that built in obsolescence must stop somewhere and we should be able to reuse materials that become outdated.

Digital technology tools: digital imaging, photography and print, sculpture: CAD (computer aided design) in models and digital animation.

Physical/virtual world

Body/mind paradox

(4) Japanese artist Toshio Iwai’s interactive audio-visual installation Piano-as image media (1995) is a virtual score used to trigger the keys of a piano which in turn induce the projection of computer-generated images on a screen. The score is “written” by the visitors who can position dots on a moving grid projected in front of the piano. This reminds me of a piece called “Scale” that I did in my multimedia senior project in 1978. But the difference in the approach and use of medium is profound. I cut color strips of paper in various ‘bars’ increasing and decreasing in size and the color spectrum and hues. I physically cut many strips on the paper cutter. It took hours. Then more hours were consumed when I used a copy camera to create each 35 mm slide. I created many, many slides manually and then choreographed a projection on a curved wall that used five slide projectors. My audio track was the basic piano scales that would be played by a beginning piano student which I recorded with an audio cassette player. These were overlapped and I danced or played the strips across the wall in both harmonic and non-harmonic fashion.

Digital technology medium: Forms of digital art, Installation, Film, video, animation, internet art and nomadic networks, Software art, virtual reality and augmented reality, sound and music.

Is there anywhere on campus where we could experience virtual reality technology? I know that they have been using it more to train surgery students. What are the possibilities here at the U? Are there any? When can we go?

Continue reading "observations and questions pp 3- 137 " »

March 26, 2009


There are 2 components of digital art: the back end code and the visual user interface.

Digital media not only create art but allows art to be created within the presentation of the art peace

Two programs for animation, video, and computer driven content are Flash and Director. They allow artists to create a fully unique, customizable, experience that can be interacted with or manipulated to the desire of the artist.

What is more artistic the back end code or the visual user interface?

How do separate technical aspects from artistic aspects of art or do they need to be seen as equally important?

What constitutes art vs function or are they as well intertwined?

~Cassi Smiley

April 1, 2009

Readings Part 11 Digital Art - Chapter 3

Three favorite themes
1) Artificial life and intelligence: I enjoy the moral dilemma brought out by an AI creation taking on a life and opinions of their/its own. Blade Runner is one of my favorite movies
2) Telepresence and telerobotics: I think this is a great way to test out safety in dangerous environments: tornado, hurricane, areas with a potential explosive.
3) Mapping and data visualization: I enjoy traveling the world and seeing actual street level views.

Using artificial life and intelligence as a launching pad, Kenneth Feingold’s If/Then, 2001 is a “cinematic sculpture.”
Two identical plastic bald female heads in a cardboard box with shipping peanuts have a changing “conversation” with each other. They look like replacement parts either about to be sealed up for shipment of having just arrived at their destination.
Their conversations are generated “utilizing speech recognition, natural language processing, conversation/personality algorithms, and text-to-speech software.” The software gives each head a consistent verbal identity, which, through time/repetition develops into a personality…in a Wood Allen self-absorbed work sort of way.

April 14, 2009

Ch. 3 reflections

1. Artificial Intelligence: Prior to reading Digital Art my understanding of the capabilities and uses of Artificial Intelligence was that of computerized humans and not in the form of art. Artificial Intelligence can be used as a medium to create unique, engaging, and meaningful pieces of art that allow viewers not only to witness but also interact with these computer-generated forms. Not only can this be digital but also can use tangible objects to create this interaction between the viewer and the art form.

This can be seen through pieces such as Sommerer and Mignonneau, A-Volve, 1194 that allows participants to create a virtual world of sea creatures through touch and movement and Kenneth Rinaldo, Autopoeisis, 2000 that creates an environment with moving sculptures that react to the movement of viewers.

A.I demonstrates how machines think and how we make them think.

2. Telepresence, Telematics, and telerobotics: The ability to have interaction with two spaces without distance being an issue is remarkable. This truly re-establishes the boundary between space and time allowing for endless possibilities of interactions, manipulation, communication, and interpretations.

3. The Body and Identity: Through the use of technology and are we have been able to reinvent and reproduce ourselves in space, time, and context. Characters can be transformed instantly and simultaneously, into whatever whenever.

These three areas interest me in the idea that identity can be recreated through the manipulation of time, space, and medium. I feel that these topics meld together in creating self-representations through art and technology. It is interesting as he talks about technology beginning to blur the lines between humans and machines. Through this experimentation do we find ourselves more or lose ourselves in the integration of non-human forms when expressing our identity.

As I was acquainted with the multitude of examples of digital art pieces involving A.I., Gaming, Mapping, database aesthetics, telepresence, etc. I found them all to be very intriguing for I am very new to most if not yet all of these mediums, but the piece that kept drawing me back actually was one of the more simple but magnificent installations I found. This piece is Eduardo Kac’s Teleporting an Unknown State, 1994-6. This installation redefined the relationship between objects, power, space, place, and ability to interact with them. A single seed in a piece of earth placed in the dark was allowed to grow with the strength of online presence of viewers, using teleportation, to send light particles through a projector to allow photosynthesis to take place. This is an illustration of how machine can sustain life, not just digital life, and thus continues to blur the lines between man made and machine made objects and interactions.

-Cassi Smiley

April 16, 2009

Digital Art - Paul - Part II Anita Wallace

Observations and Questions
Digital Art, Christiane Paul
Part II
Anita Wallace
The three categories of themes in Digital Art explored by Christiane Paul in Chapter 3 that most interest me are:
1) Body and identity
2) Databases, visualization, and mapping
3) Beyond the book: texts and narratives

To better understand these areas following the initial reading, I have selected some key ideas from the text and outlined the three categories. Afterwards, I have made my observations.

Body and identity:

- Physical individual bodies become transparent through surveillance and identification that threatens the notion of individual autonomy (Paul, pp 165).

- Our virtual existence suggests the opposite of a unified, individual body—multiple selves inhabiting mediated realities. (Paul, pp 165)

- Online identity allows a simultaneous presence in various spaces and contexts, a constant ‘reproduction’ of the self without body. (Paul, pp 165)

- Online chat environments allow people to choose avatars to represent themselves, and they may slip in and out of character.

- De-centering of the subject is brought about by digital technologies (Turkle and Stone, pp 165).

- The relation between virtual and physical existence is a complex interplay that affects our understanding of both the body and (virtual) identity (Paul, pp 166).

- Question: To what extent are we already experiencing a man-machine symbiosis that has turned us into cyborgs—technologically enhanced and extended bodies?

- Question: …the question is not whether we will become posthuman, for posthumanity is already here….the question is what kind of posthumans we will be (Katherine Hayles, How We Became Posthuman, Paul, pp 166).

- Exchange is mediated by the ‘gaze’ of the computer (pp.169).
Question: To what extent do we become totally self absorbed in our own world through our intermediate exchange with the computer? Is there any difference between becoming absorbed in a virtual world versus what we call the 'real world'?

Question: What are the differences and similarities between on-line or virtual communities and real communities? How are values and social rules of convention applied or discarded in these contexts both separately and as they overlap and collide?

The possibilities posed by a deeper understanding of virtual worlds and augmented reality provide rich opportunities for artists to explore the past, present, and future through new media in pioneering ways which is truly amazing to me. Avatars and gaming are concepts that I was peripherally aware of but have come to a better understanding of the profound implications and potential applications they provide human global society.

Databases, visualization and mapping: The concept of disembodiment is interesting to me as it relates to both personal and universal experience. The piece on page 174 by Scott Snibbe (Boundary Functions, 1998) seems to have influenced the student that created the piece in the Regis Center this spring using the game 'Twister'. I am interested in the possibilities of documentation and tracking and transposing data and ideas in rapid fashion. It is amazing what memory machines have and the efficiency with which they can assist us as humans to recall and process mounds of material that in more archaic and paper times would take one or several human lifetimes. Machines allow us to process the ideas from the past in a more synthetic fashion.

Beyond the book: texts and narratives

I am really interested in hypertext and hypermedia as it relates to the history of automatic writing and surrealist experimentation. The multiple layers of worlds and potential possible worlds as real life scenarios and stories are mind boggling to me. I am drawn to the poetic works of John Maeda (Tap, Type, Write, 1998) and David Small and Tom White (Stream of Consciousness/Interactive Poetic Garden, 1998). I can easily imagine myself in the context of this work ~ which brings together concepts of nature and post-modern architectural space.