Chapter 3: Themes in Digital Art
Posted December 5, 2008on:
Some people, such as Norbert Weiner, believe that the guiding principle behind life and organization in information. He believed that communication, control, and feedback are the essentials. He and others like Richard Dawkins would consider the social and cultural evolution of the species to happen through information. The theories presented by these men are helping shape AI-related art. Works such as Galapagos by Karl Sims or A-Volve by Christa Sommerer and Laurent Mignonneau demonstrate this idea. Both are evolution-themed pieces of art that require the intelligence and information of the viewing to work. For example, A-Volve is a touch screen made to look like water. When the viewer makes a shape on the screen, it comes to life and now has to survive, but it will only be able to do so if it was made properly and is protected.
Other programs that are similar in concept include Life Spacies by Sommerer and Mignonneau and Tierra by Thomas Ray, although Ray’s set-up is different. His looks more like pixels and code than life forms we are familiar with. Some 3-D versions include Emergence by Rebecca Allen which is a 3-D environment that explores social behaviors as well as Autopoeisis by Kenneth Rinaldo.
Artificial Intelligence and Intelligent Agents
Alan Turing was an early theoretician on AIs (artificial intelligence). A few current manifestations of them are the AIs Eliza and A
LICE (Artificial Linguistic Computer Entity). ALICE was created by Richard Wallace and works from Artifical Intelligence Markup Language (AIML) which enables her to give semi-intelligent responses. A few art pieces that include this idea are
If/Then by Kenneth Fiengold and n-Cha(n)t by David Rokeby.
Telepresence, Telematics, and Telerobotics
Tele in Greek means far off or distant. Considering this, anything that uses a telegraph or telephone and is art-related is a precusor for this subject. Artists use telerobotics in such things as Mori (Ken Goldberg) and Rara Avis by Eduardo Kac which is a program that enables you to see through the eyes of a mechanical parrot
Body and Identity
Body and Identitiy help explain ourselves in digital art today. Currently “privacy” is a thing of the past and our identity is being recorded onto machines through fingerprinting and the like. Some artists are using this idea to “extend” their own body like Stelarc in Exoskeleton. This piece creates six legs for the artist. Another piece, called Liquid Views by Monika Fleischmann, Wolfgang Strauss, and Christian A. Bohn digitally creates the viewer’s face in a reflection, as if in a pool.
Databases, Data Visualization, and Mapping
These days, data is organized into a structure…a “map” of sorts. Data is something that cannot be grasped or “held.” In this sense, it is somewhat abstract. But even though the idea of “information space” is directly applied to the internet, it is a term that applies to anything containing information, including libraries and the like. This could be called “information architecture.” Examples of artists who have used this in their artwork includes Apartment by Martin Wattenberg and Marek Walczak. In this, users type in data (words) and rooms appear on the screen to reflect the data. Another example is Stock Market Skirt by Nancy Paterson which uses live data from the stock market to affect the shape of the skirt.
Beyond the Book: Text and Narrative Environments
Another valuable aspect of the internet relates itself to writing. Some say that text is “performed” by the reader, since it requires a reader to make it work. Hypermedia applications are taking this idea and trying to mimic the brain in its associative nature. One example is Beyond Pages by Masaki Fujihata who created a program of images projected onto a table that the user can manipulate to an extent. One other example is Stream of Consciousness/Interactive Poetic Garden by Small and White in which words are projected onto a stream.
The SIMS are a classic example of gaming interactive environments.
Tactical Media, Activism, and Hacktivism
Internet was supposed to be for everyone, but like everything, media reflects our values and corporations quickly took over while e-commerce is invading. Some people use their art in an activist manner, trying to reflect this problem. One person who used this is Harwood who created a piece called Uncomfortable Proximity which uses the Tate Museum as it retells British History.
Technologies of the Future
Sky Ear by Usman Haque is a cloud of helium balloons with infra-red sensors and LED lights; electromagnetic waves, like weather or cell phones, trigger sensors that change the colors of the balloons.
Mobile and Locative Media
The Next Generation of Virtual Worlds