Post 3: May Total Delusionists The New Realists?

(To be read after Posts 1 & 2)

Reusing the modified nature vs nurture analogy (Post 1) combined with the rationale between horticultural therapy (Post 2), if genes dictate what a person’s potential would be and environmental factors what the person will grow up to be, a media designer basically adds some green stuff to this person’s worldly experience (via one’s visions, muscles, or any additional physical and mental processes for that matter, Rokeby puts up a good case for this). And when this gun-person fires with such green dust on his/her mind or body, a greened-up version of a experience is resulted. Philosophical possibilities can then be raised:

  • A target is hit with the aid of this magic green dust;
  • A target is hit with or without the green dust;
  • A target turns green whenever green dust is used;
  • The target is green to start with;
  • A green target will appear and be hit whenever green dust is used;
  • A target, green or not, will be hit at the same time as every time the trigger is pulled, green-dusted or not;
  • ….(I have confused myself at this stage so I’d better stop listing more possible maybe situations and just keep on shooting whatever I see in front of me at present time, metaphorically speaking of course.)
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Image: http://i.ebayimg.com/images/g/xEAAAOxydlFSu49N/s-l300.jpg, accessed 26 October 2016

These are the kinds of questions one should ask when living in an increasingly VR-ed world. David Rokeby illustrates this line of inquiry by pointing out that interactive artist creates relational artworks in which power of the expressions multiplied when interactors themselves become referents of the work; and also that as interactive technologies become so common and transparent that they become the new reality for those whose awareness of the control, manipulation and deception ends (Rokeby, 1998).

The burden of creating illusion or a sense of self-believe for media users lies with the media designers, who are responsible for making the users either actually being part of the improvement (green-ed gun actually does a better job), or perceived to be part of the improvement (green-ed gun thinks it does a better job), or alleged to be part of the success (green-ed gun is led to think so by showing the improvement/success wherever it pulls its green-up trigger). In all cases only the designer will know for sure if that is achieved co-incidentally or causation-ally.

This view is supported by other scholar and artist works. If ‘presence as invisible medium’ or ‘presence as transformed medium’ and thus perceptual illusion of non-mediation becomes the true sense of presence for media users (Lombard & Ditton 1997), and that illusion becomes unquestionably accepted and totally incorporated into ones’ ordinary course of life, mixed or total virtual reality will become the new reality. The notion of these altered states of reality to be taken as the only known and therefore accepted reality is famously deployed in Warner Bros’s 1999 movie production The Matrix where different degrees of (dis)believe and acceptance are portrayed.

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Image: https://fangirlknitsscarf.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/the_matrixl.jpg, accessed 26 October 2016

Are We Living in Reality, Mixed Reality or Virtual Reality Really?

First coined in 1817 by the poet and aesthetic philosopher Samuel Coleridge, suspension of disbelief is defined as a willingness to suspend one’s critical faculties and believe the unbelievable, during which realism and logic are sacrificed for the sake of enjoyment (Dictionary.com) (Holland, 2003). The physical and psychological effects are normally rest on the receiver rather than the creator of the medium design. Such gratifications felt not only the participants but also the viewers are exemplified by Blast Theory’s interactive pervasive game A Machine to See With 2011.

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Image: https://farm5.static.flickr.com/4091/4994828376_c194eab17c_b.jpg, accessed 24 October 2016

Success of this project lies in the facts that causes and effects of presence (Lombard & Ditton, 1997) are well understood and convincingly applied. Participants acting as avatars are put on the streets among unsuspecting members of the public, with the surroundings as the props and backdrop for its fictitious thriller storyline played in real time and location. This work shows how people elect to be tricked and surrender the control of their own bodies or moral judgements voluntarily for excitement.

VR, simulations and game-up real life scenarios can all be seen as practice rounds for certain aspects of ones’ real life we either love, hate or need to face without risking too much, as per the biological imperative reasons promoted by MONA. For example, Crimewave Shows by Survival Research Laboratories (1979-current) are likened visual rehearsals to possible apocalypse conditions we are all stressed about in real life. Viewers’ senses are stimulated and de-sensitized after prolonged exposure to similar conditions can be found in many other media platforms (eg TV series on vampire attacks or zombie fighting video games).

 

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Image: http://srl.org/raw_images/header.jpg, accessed 20 October 2016

Mirroring the four chosen human evolutionary theories behind On Origin of Art exhibition (in Post 2) a better sense can be made in understanding many of our additive social behaviours in media context (all graphic but not necessarily artistic though). Examples are:

  • Preference or reliance on technologies to function/perform daily activities with the believe that humans survive better in the digital jungle with silicon tools eg Online self-promotion/dating activities on social media vs face-to-face presentations of self (Art/cultural practices being a form of cognitive play that translates to vital survival skills);
  • Popularity of using image-sharing apps to signal mate values eg Instagram pictures showing constructed identities of self/properties/rights (Art/cultural practices evolving as part of the sexual or fitness selection process);
  • Attraction to on-screen representations and presentations of perfect lives eg beautifully brightly interactively promoted website contents on all possible subjects/objects, real or unreal (Art/cultural practices acting as a senses pleaser);
  • Any activities that give human brains a good work-out, be it entertaining, saddening, satisfying at the end of the session, participants normally feel anew for another day (Artistic/cultural practices as an exercise for the otherwise laid-off brains).

Pornography, thrill/kill games on- or off-line, arguably fit into the first and last categories depending on what sorts of skills the media users required and how stressed or bored the individuals are with other part of their lives.

Jonathan Steuer in the course of defining virtual reality, distinguishes ‘presence’ and ‘telepresence’ as ‘the sense of being in an environment, generated by natural or mediated means, respectively’ (Steuer, 1994). All examples presented in these blogs are based on various degrees of telepresence (VR is a special case of telepresence according to Steuer) except for those who are deluded enough to accept any mediated presence as natural. This is possible for human experience is considered to be the perception of those surroundings mediated by both automatic and controlled mental processes (Gibson, 1979). In that case, media-induced presence becomes the true presence: a different version of reality like the one in The Matrix film becomes THE reality.

I argue that followers who place unproven confidence or blind trust in communication technology/mass media in running their lives will definitely fall into this category. Manovich stresses the importance of human-computer interface and the interfaces of software applications used to author and access new media objects in the new world of “computer’s ontology, epistemology and pragmatics” (Manovich, 2001). An updated version of this dataist worldview is also depicted in historian Yuval Noah Harari’s 2016 book ‘Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow’. Harari proposes that we are risking loosing humanist authority to the hidden force of the big data currents.

“…as the Church and the KGB give way to Google and Facebook, humanism loses its practical advantages. For we are now at the confluence of two scientific tidal waves. One the one hand, biologists are deciphering the mysteries of the human body and, in particular, of the brain and of human feelings. At the same time, computer scientists are giving us unprecedented data-processing power. When you put the two together, you get external systems that can monitor and understand my feelings much better than I can. Once Big Data systems know me better than I know myself, authority will shift from humans to algorithms. Big Dada could then empower Big Brother.” – Harari 2016

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Image: Copy right to Janne Iivonen, https://next-geebee.ft.com/image/v1/images/raw/http%3A%2F%2Fcom.ft.imagepublish.prod.s3.amazonaws.com%2F7798e37a-6a58-11e6-ae5b-a7cc5dd5a28c?source=next&fit=scale-down&width=700, accessed 20 October 2016

Harari suggests you shall ‘know thyself’ if staying clear of Dataism is your choice.

Conclusion

My three posts examine different ways media artists looks at humanism, with media user’s participatory and reflective roles taken into heavy account. Media art plays a vital role in the dataist society by constantly reflecting and critiquing the ever-evolving media-induced human conditions.

 

Reference List

Gibson, J. J., The Ecological Approach To Visual Perception, Boston Houghton Mifflin, 1979

Harari., Y., https://www.ft.com/content/50bb4830-6a4c-11e6-ae5b-a7cc5dd5a28c, accessed 18 October 2016

Holland, N., The willing suspension of Disbelief: A Neuro-[suchanonalytic view, PsyART, Vol 7, Jan-Mar 2003, http://psycnet.apa.org/psycinfo/2003-03357-001, accessed 26 October 2016

Manovich, L., The Language of New Media, MIT Press, 2001, Chapter 1.

Rokeby, D., “Transforming Mirrors: Conclusion – Designing the Future”, ACM Press, 1998

http://srl.org/shows.html, accessed 20 October 2016

http://steinhardtapps.es.its.nyu.edu/create/courses/2015/reading/steuer.pdf, accessed 28 October 2016

https://www.bl.uk/collection-items/biographia-literaria-by-samuel-taylor-coleridge, accessed 28 October 2016

http://www.blasttheory.co.uk/projects/a-machine-to-see-with/, accessed 24 October 2016

http://www.dictionary.com/browse/suspension-of-disbelief, accessed 26 October 2016

http://www.iconeye.com/opinion/review/item/9657-a-machine-to-see-with, accessed 24 October 2016

http://www.warnerbros.com/matrix, accessed 26 October 2016

 

Post 2: Do we need to go that far?

Follow on from the logic I proposed in Post 1, I further elaborate my views on how media artists examine life as we know of.

The bio-art project shocks me the most so far is CellF 2015-current by Guy Ben-Ary. It amazes me with what science can do and how far artists are willing to go in the sake of art. Ben-Ary basically created an external brain that fulfils his dream of being a musician. My responsible mother instinct immediately kicks in: is it just a bunch of nerve cells carrying out a tech-induced task? Or is it more than just an ‘it’? An external brain, as Ben-Ary calls it himself, is a thinking organ right? So is it more like a brain-child (literally) or a partial mini-me to Ben-Ary (if one considers it a cloned brain)? My second thought is that is this brain thinking or even feeling something, particularly about this circus- (not a misspelt ‘circuit’) setup? What about the ‘noisy performance’ it is responsible for? Is he (presumably same sex as Ben-Ary’s) well and happy, performing or not? Further thought goes to his funeral – if there is one at his eventual death by natural causes or otherwise (will he be killed off right after the show is over?!).

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Guy Ben-Ary, images taken during ‘My Neurons differentiating on the MEA’, CellF, Copyright to artist.
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Guy Ben-Ary, images taken during ‘My Neurons differentiating on the MEA’, CellF, Copyright to artist.
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Image copy right to artist, accessed 26 October 2016

Ben-Ary’s tone is one of those caring parent’s (or pet-owner’s at least): ‘… Due to the negligence of the shipping company, 10 million of my precious cells, bits and pieces of me, were destroyed…’ for example (guybenary.com, accessed 26 October 2016).

The ownership of body parts, deceased persons, live or still-born babies, by natural/assisted pregnancy or surrogacy, with genetic materials from known or unknown donor(s), with birth rights of different sovereignties, foetus of different stages in the womb, embryonic stem cells, pluripotent stem cells, cord blood etc etc are highly problematic and controversial enough by their very own natures. The responsibility of keeping life forms alive, usage and disposal of biological matters will surely add more layers of ethicality, legality and religility over the already complicated issues. Even animal cruelty legislations might apply (to any live forms being harmed or killed for entertainment purposes). What drive scientists/artists to do these stunts?

The words of a biological artist George Gessert sums up our current position neatly:

“Do artists cross a line when they breed plants or animals, or use the tools of biotechnology? Scientists routinely cross the line. So do farmers, businesspeople, military men, and doctors. Only artists and certain religious people hesitate. Of course, one of the great human dilemmas is that we do not know the extent of our powers. We invent outrageously and as casually as we breathe, but we have no idea where our inventions will take us. Extinction? Slavery? 1000 years in Disneyland? Even if the Holocaust had never happened, we would have good reason to worry about where knowledge of genetics and DNA will take us. We will need all the awareness we can master to engage evolution. To the extent that art favours awareness, the more artists who cross the line the better.” (Gessert, 2003)

The leading biological research safeguard in Australia and New Zealand is SymboitcA, which actively engages in life-manipulating projects drive by ethical considerations, forcing the artists and viewers to take active role in the life-death cycle of biological matters, and thus acts as a life-matter research safeguard for non-utilitarian purposes via exploring contestable possibilities that technology is heading (Catts, 2002). It appears that Ben-Ary’s little brain son is being well looked after under the current establishment (see endorsements in his official website).

I would still like to hear about the funeral announcement if it happens…

Biology Reasons to Make Art

Contemporary bio-artists heavily involve biological materials/life, scientific tool and protocols, and even themselves in these transgressive practices (Zurr & Catts 2004). Stellac’s life works are well-known exemplary of this new phenomenon. Further down along this line is being investigated in MONA’s upcoming exhibition On the Origin of Art 2016-2017: how human evolution and art intertwine from a biology determinism point of view.

Ben-Ary is right in this regards: there are artist genes lying somewhere in our bodies awaiting to express their potentials. As MONA’s owner David Walsh- Charles Darwin fan and lifelong lover of chance and the random in life- believes “we [extending to our art making practices] are fundamentally shaped by primitive impulses rooted in the Pleistocene soup of our beginnings” (Verghis, 2016). Walsh will present this biological imperative argument for art in On the Origin of Art exhibition which will showcase four competing views on the evolution of art: art is a form of cognitive play (in particular with pattern) that translates to practical benefits and thus vital survival skills; art evolves through sexual selection as a signal of mate value or ‘fitness marker’; art is a by-product of other adaptations including obtaining status and as a ‘pleasure technology’ for our senses; and art harnesses nature –  the process wherein aspects of our nature-mimicking culture develops new purpose using our ancient brain mechanisms (More details on: https://mona.net.au, accessed 28 October 2016).

The cognitivity theory (proposed by Professor of literature Brian Boyd) and ‘headspinning’ concept (instigated by evolutionary neurobiologist Mark Changizi) explain a lot the digitised taste of our recently developed and accepted audio and visual art forms (pop culture). Digital/media art is therefore a by-product of our adaptation to pure technology according to the nature-harnessing theory- make the best out of the otherwise cold and boring endeavour!

Linguist and cognitive scientist Steven Pinker’s art as sensor pleasing device, signs of status/leisure, and also theory of biophilia, address our primal taste for enriched, elaborate visuals like flowers, fruits etc. on top of the common desires for fertility, control and resourcefulness. Combining the fact that art having an adaptive function (look at history of media art within digitalization for example), it is to expect that VR-gardening becomes part of our foreseeable future and as a matter of fact, a retired successful art project.

Ken Goldberg and Joseph Santarromana envisioned this in their Robotic Telegarden installation 1995-2004. It was a fusion between old technology (agriculture) and new (the internet) based on the concept that “media technology generally facilities the suspension of disbelief” stressed Goldberg (Telegarden Description, YouTube accessed 28 October 2016). The 9,000+ online members 100,000 physical visitors created a self-governing social network in the virtual space, with interactive users became protective of plants even territorial at times during its 7 years of running online.

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Ken Goldberg and Joseph Santarromana, The Telegarden, 1995-2004, art installation, Ars Electronica Museum, Linz Austria, copy right to artists

The issue of legitimacy, i.e. how do media users know for sure that the garden actually exists, and that any of their remote controls really matter, leads to many theoretical investigations into the concepts of telepresence and presence with hidden mediation (Steuer, 1992) (Lombard & Ditton, 1997). Imagine if there were watering/fertilizing/add sunlight command buttons available for the Ever Blossoming‘s viewers to press at the beginning of each show cycle, wouldn’t it make the button pressor feel like he/she grew the beautiful plant? Does the button pressor know for sure if any of the commands dummy or not? Would the button pressor feel even better knowing that ill-fate is not written into the algorithm. There is of course no Ctrl z function built-in for this sort of VR farming artwork… or is there?

Psychology of Being a VR Farmer

“… TeleGarden offers a search for the [soul] of gardening… Though drained of sensory cues, planting that distant seed still stirs anticipation, protectiveness, and nurturing. The unmistakable vibration of the garden pulses and pulls, even through a modem.” – Warren Schultz, Garden Design, Dec/Jan 1996.

Gardening also manifests other human behavioural traces like control of the environment (therefore food supply) and dominance (best chance of survival), reward for hard work and the creating personal utopia (a small piece of personalized heaven on earth- literally). Besides creating beauty, scent, edible and usable produces, gardening is a form of ritual with physio and psychological benefits. Most importantly it allows for an accessible way of reconnecting with our life-giving impulses in a less resources/ time/ space/ emotions/ judgements sensitive options (Stuart-Smith, 2016).

There is also illusion at play: Paediatrician and psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott explains ‘when a baby wants something enough to conjure it up in the imagination, and when this coincides with what happens in reality, the illusion for the baby is of having made it happen.’ Psychologically claiming the causation in similar ways is nonetheless illusion that fosters a sense of self-belief (and related benefits that follow) even for adults. This kind of green-fingers illusion acts as a psychological success factor and helps counteracting any senses of impotence in other part of life (Stuart-Smith 2016) – good enough a reason to resort to VR (illusion) living at times!

Perhaps this is what video gamers are feeling when playing games involve growing or building something on screen with results that are directly proportionate to their inputs (time, efforts, talents, money etc). Worse comes to worse, there is always a ‘game over play again’ option.

Illusions in real life of course can work in detrimental ways as well. Perhaps simulations would be a safer option as a rehearsal of worst case scenarios. Examples of media practices  that demonstrate possible reasons and effects of living a VR life will be addressed in Post 3.

 

Reference List

Catts, O., Biofeel Curator Statement, BEAP 2000 Catalogue John Curtin Gallery, Western Australia, ISBN 1-740667-157-0 (August 2002)

Catts, O., Zurr, I., “The ethical claims of bio-art: Killing the other or self-cannibalism”, Australian and New Zealand Journal of Art, 2004 – Taylor & Francis

Gessert, G., “Notes on the Art of Plant Breeding,” L’art Biotech Catalogue, le lieu unique France ISBN 2-914381-52-2 (March 2003): 47.

Lombard, M., Ditton, T., “At the Heart of It All: The Concept of Presence”, Department of Broadcasting, Telecommunications & Mass Media, Temple University, JCMC 3 (2) September 1997

Mapow, D., “Do People Have Ownership Over Their Body Parts and If so, Can the State Control Their Ultimate Disposition In The Interest Of Public Health and Safety?” http://lawandreligion.com/sites/lawandreligion.com/files/2014_Vol.16_Mapow.pdf

Steuer, J., “Defining Virtual Reality: Dimensions Determining Telepresence”, Journal of Communication; Autumn 1992; 42, 4, Stanford University

Stuart-Smith, S., http://www.telegraph.co.uk/gardening/10862087/Horticultural-therapy-Gardening-makes-us-feel-renewed-inside.html, accessed 28 October 2016

Verghis, S., http://www.theaustralian.com.au/arts/review/monas-on-the-origin-of-art-david-walshs-tale-of-four-visions/news-story/47103bc02f2a9771f10a0b56208e9593, accessed 24 October 2016

http://guybenary.com/work/cellf/, accessed 18 October 2016

http://goldberg.berkeley.edu/garden/Ars/, accessed 28 October 2016

http://kb.rspca.org.au/What-are-the-penalties-for-animal-cruelty-offences_271.html, accessed 27 October 2016

http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-in-entertainment/, accessed 27 October 2016

https://mona.net.au, accessed 28 October 2016

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gbyy5vSg8w8, accessed 28 October 2016

Post 1: Introduction and Interactive Works on Life

Introduction

A recent digital artwork captures my eyes and imagination immensely.

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Details: teamLab, Ever Blossoming Life II – A whole year per hour, Gold, 2016, Four channel digital artwork, endless, edition 4/6; image courtesy of the artists and Martin Browne Contemporary, Sydney
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Installation view Ever Blossoming, Art Gallery of South Australia, 2016, image copy right to SA Art Gallery

This is a first-timer in terms of creating a sense of one-chance-only-ness out of its programming stage. Ever Blossoming Life II – A whole year per hour, Gold, by Tokyo-based ‘ultra-technologists’ teamLab, employs incredibly advanced technology to reflect the tastes of the Edo period at the utmost contemporary edge. This concept is highly relevant to contemporary form where traditional ideas and the natural world often reach their audiences via screens. Deployment of VR/telepresence in this case also permits idealised visions, or literally anything imaginable as a matter of fact, to be felt and/or shared in time-space restricted living conditions in these days and age.

It is a collection of digital paintings (not video) that depicts the lifespan of cherry flowers, with an algorithm for the work that is ‘constantly recreating itself’ ‘in real time, composing new compositions for each individual viewer’ says curator Russell Kelty (Llewellyn, 2016). The transience of blossoming is resonated by the uniqueness of each visual, which conceptually also notoriously removes the repeatability of media artworks as they are commonly perceived. Kelty also says that you see something that is authentic and unique as the computer places things in such a way that a composition will never happen again, and it’s the kind of vision of how we look at the world and our relationship to nature (Watson, 2016).

Such uniqueness and authenticity only apply to the computer program itself, not the outputs though: according to Lev Manovich who explains how new media objects already allow for automation and variability due to their numerical representations and modularity principles (Manovich 2001). The never-seen-again quality of Ever Blossoming is simply following a specific algorithmic manipulation command. The ‘uniqueness’ that viewers expect to enjoy are limited to each of the individual ‘tailored’ viewing experiences, just as each personalised experiences media users are having referred to by Manovich.

Randomness and uniqueness are what one expects to see in our natural world, over which humans have very limited control. Scientific laws that govern how the universe works are definitely not random, just too complicated to be understood (details out of the scope of this discussions). Science and technology at the moment are not providing complete understandings nor processing powers to calculate all the results humans want or need, therefore leaving most of us living with unknowns and uncertainties, subsequently feeling powerless and fearful and inducing humanly responses (be they nil, negative or positive) that we are familiar with. Random applied in my logic here therefore only refers to human perceptions.

The true randomness from growth of life forms to humans (for the time being at least) comes from this formula:

Fixed genes (corresponding to point 1 below) x Random environmental factors x Controlled human interceptions (point 2 below) = Random development of a life form.

My blogs will explore this logic from a few different angles in the context of media art as follows:

  1. New ways to interpret the body created by fixed genes via interactive-bio-art
  2. Change our physical environment to line up with all our desires
  3. If point 2 is improbable or impossible, change the perception of the environment via experience (re)construction i.e. interactivity – resulting in possible illusion in short term and converting to a new religion if long-term
  4. If 3 is achieved, “our bodies as experiential apparatus” would change accordingly (like the case in Transforming Mirrors proposed by David Rokeby 1998) and can be considered as part of the natural human evolutionary process.

Roles of Artists in Science of Life

Like the Renaissance artists demonstrated the new objectivising gaze of the scientists, media artists envision complicated subjects like DNAs, cells functions, emotive/affective existence/presence and even life itself. Regardless how much and well scientists present research results, it is still artists like da Vinci, Michelangelo and Vasalius in the past, and many media/graphic artists today who do the work of illustrations – for fellow artists, medical practitioners, general public and any other interested parties. It is still the media artists who do the best illustrative works in all cases for they remain the most effective and articulate way of conveying the message/concepts (Zurr and Catts 2004).

One of the difficulties faced by practitioners who cross art with science is making aesthetic choices when combining the rigours objectivity and precision with distracting moodiness, lighting and sound effects etc. Contradicting concepts like immediacy-hypermediacy, disruptions of continuity, glitch, deterioration, and practical and ethical considerations in dealing with decay and even death must all be carefully juggled to achieve successful results. Here are two other examples how contemporary media artists depict life with high success.

Paul Thomas in collaboration with Kevin Raxworthy aims to examine life at a sub-cellular level through their Nanoessene project 2010. Demonstrated by the endless cloning of a single human cell, comparisons between life and death and thus what constitutes living are now quantified by nanotechnology and romanticised by media art. The most exciting part is when viewers can interface with the the visual and sonic presentation using one’s own breath, linking a biblical inception of life on the conceptual and metaphorical levels to any members of our society.

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Still from Nanotechnology research project – Nanoessence, Paul Thomas in Collaboration with Kevin Roxworthy, interactive audio-visual installation, image copy right to visible space.com

George Khut uses bio-sensing technologies to examine human emotive levels by re-framing experiences of embodiment, health and subjectivity. In particular, his Behind your Eyes, Between your Ears (2015, 2016) collection of intimate video portraits generates interactive soundscape and visuals that trace the dynamics of one’s attention between thinking and being.

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George Khut with David Morris-Oliveros, Behind Your Eyes, Between Your Ears: Neurofeedback portrait studio, Performance Space, Carringeworks, 2015. Photography by Amanda James.

Media artists have new responsibilities these day. As interactive artist David Rokeby descripts how he constructs experiences for the participants of his interactive designs, human-computer interface becomes the content by gradually educating and reinforcing the sensing/perceptual/conceptual systems of human bodies in direct response to the new conditions; and that learning via bio-feedback looping process is pushing human-computer relationship to a more intimate and inter-dependent level (Rokeby, 1998). Rokeby also causally predicts that new generations “are adapting from birth to the language of synthetic interfaces [such that] common virtual sense will be widespread” (Rokeby, 1998).

To extend on the common analogy that if ‘ nature loads the gun, nurture pulls the trigger’, media artist is re-designing the viewfinder of this bio-gun as we speak – even changing the mode of finding targets at times (using infra-red sensors, adding target tracking devices or just ask siri for examples). The gun (media users) might even need to be modified or upgraded or physically aided by the designer (like the diver in the picture) to suit the new external condition (the confronting alien green water).

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Image: http://www.geek.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/rifle-header-625×350.jpg, accessed 18 October 2016

 

Reference List

Catts, O., Zurr, I., “The ethical claims of bio-art: Killing the other or self-cannibalism”, Australian and New Zealand Journal of Art, 2004 – Taylor & Francis

Llewellyn, J., http://adelaidereview.com.au/arts/visual-arts/ever-blossoming-life-ii-born-bloom-die/, accessed 24 October 2016

Manovich, L., The Language of New Media, MIT Press, 2001, Chapter 1.

Rokeby, D., “The Construction of Experience: Interface as Content”, ACM Press, 1998

Watson, B., http://www.theaustralian.com.au/arts/review/teamlabs-ever-blossoming-life-ii-historical-japanese-art-meets-anime/news-story/01b2a931e5bf6374fc259117dbedcfb3, accessed 20 October 2016

http://visiblespace.com/blog/?page_id=122, accessed 27 October 2016

http://www.artgallery.sa.gov.au/agsa/home/Exhibitions/NowShowing/Ever_Blossoming, accessed 25 October 2016

http://www.georgekhut.com/behind-your-eyes-between-your-ears/, accessed 27 October 2016

My pick from the New Romance exhibition

Never really understood the beauty of media art until Anna Davis gave us an insightful and direct introduction to the show last Wednesday. Some of the works are still a bit impersonal (as in cold, distanced, irrelevant and fearsome) to my practical self (who is a typical gen x playing catch-up with the gens y and z as we speak). The painter side of me can and does appreciate the new forms, platforms and contents (same old subjects in different packages really) and gets very intrigued by the new talents and works of this kind indeed. The romantic me says yes to most of the works, in particular those with a hint more of the “conventional” “painterly” (re-)presentation.

The piece I relate the most to is the installation Perpetual Snow, 2015 by Kibong Rhee.

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Kibong Rhee, Perpetual Snow, 2015, installation view, New Romance: art and the posthuman, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, glass, silicon, aluminium, steel, marker pen, arduino system, Image and © the artist, Photograph taken by Ho Yee Wong at 3rd August 2016
Kibong Rhee, Perpetual Snow, 2015 details
Kibong Rhee, Perpetual Snow, 2015 details

The conventional bit maybe totally wrong by now (we are living in the digitized era yeah?!) but the painterly quality certainly retains. Audiences are even allowed access to the progression of creating this painting (or printing?). Anyhow, I see it as mark-making by robotic arm from the other side: the realistic hand made me feel that I am the one from the obsolete side of reality, that is, the older generation who has unrealistic expectation from visual art of today.

I like the beginning of it when only a small white circles were spotted (refers to the courtesy photo taken by Alex Davies) and I like the middle of it when the glass panel canvas was being filled up by horizontal and vertical lines dashed with gathered snow flakes (see inserted images), and I wonder how it is going to end up in a few more weeks when the show concludes.

The format is likened a mega flat screen TV set that tells us a story that is real. More than real because it is in its making happening right in front of our naked eyes. The realistic hand appears to be doing the work for/of/as the artist. I appreciate its operation the way I appreciate my Brother ink jet printer at home working as a loyal servent to me… It IS the conceptual representation of my Brother printer coming alive but working as my creative partner instead of a mere slave!

This is what art is about: a visual presentation that gets you.