Call for papers
Exhibition at the Beall Center
Organized by UC Irvine graduate students, Life By Design: Everyday Digital Culture is an exhibition featuring works that move beyond the confines of traditional art practices toward topics that arise from 'everyday digital culture': those in game, interface, media and transportation design, performance and time-based media, architecture, communication, and engineering.
Life by Design > everyday digital culture
Exhibition curator: Jane Hart.
ChanSchatz are a fun yet serious team with bold ideas, a striking sensibility and the market savvy to actualize them in some kickass fine art product. The remarkable duo of Eric Chan and Heather Schatz, merged under a single rubric, have been making art together since 1990. There is a subtle play of realpolitik, sensuality and social consciousness which makes their work far more than just really good looking eye candy. The ChanSchatz 'brand' is a conceptual system of production in which the artists collaborate not only with each other, but with the world at large, invited in the form of guest participants who contribute their own idiosyncratic choices.
How does an edition get made? Customization is the key, involving the participation of an artworld community who offer seed material for deriving new combinations and forms in the central ChanSchatz database. The participants do this by making choices on an artist-generated form, the 'interactive design module' (or IDM), signing it and mailing it back to ChanSchatz. The mail-in feature and the multiplicity of participants recalls similar Fluxus works, while the emphasis on chance operation evokes John Cage. The assembled data is transformed into an informational portrait or 'datagraph', authorized by the signature of the participant, and processed within the ChanSchatz system from which it emerges in durable form.
A recent exhibition at Lemon Sky: Projects and Editions in Los Angeles showcased the concept, including a handsome display of the Editions type A and B pieces – inkjet prints, the latter displayed with acrylic bubble, chromed hardware, and seamless hanging system, as well as a plasma screen showing a DVD movie. The 'Digital System Production dsp.0031 lemon sky Los Angeles' was created in collaboration with the gallery. The 'edition system' consists of the inkjet prints in a few variations of number and display formats, a boxed portfolio, and electronic files pressed into CD's and DVD's, retaining a seductive potential for futurity. Accompanying the editions is the newly published 'Handbook of the Digital Edition', limited to 750 signed copies. The Handbook illustrates the 'Edition System' with a diagram; the combination of influences from ChanSchatz and the invited pool of solicited input appears as a flow chart, or as the warp and woof of an elaborate weaving chart, the editions emerging as a textile-like construct of multiple influences.
While the work clearly occupies an historical continuum of various prints, multiples and artist's books, including the taxonomical efforts of Audubon or Curtis for instance, it is the more contemporaneous generation of Pop screenprinters who beg comparison. ChanSchatz's luscious visuals shimmer and shimmy under glass and across the page, dancing in a negative space of brilliant white light. How similar to the floating confections of Wayne Thiebaud, or the brushstrokes series of Roy Lichtenstein, another artist whose white 60's space is inflected with candy colored visuals. One can discern the abstract influences of screenprinters Joseph Albers and Bridget Riley, or the recent 'Cell' silkscreens of Peter Halley. ChanSchatz proffer an updated take on these fine predecessors in their use, not only of jewel tones, but of a three dimensionality and contouring which evoke a digital sensibility.
ChanSchatz have a highly specified aesthetic - one might even say a 'finish fetish' – which derives much of its impact from the production values with which the editions and the Handbook are constructed. Glossy, slick surfaces reflect prominent influences of packaging and industrial design, and with its machined presentation and chromed hardware, this work recalls some features of Andrea Zittel and Jorge Pardo. In distinction to others working with commodity critique however, ChanSchatz abhor an overly reductive positioning between the dialectics of low versus high, handmade versus industrial, or even analogue versus digital. They are instead more interested in a subtler range of 'gradations', choices made on the conceptual equivalent of a slider. This is very evident in the way they have invited participants to help design the editions.
An alphanumeric naming device emphasizes the systematic and quasi-industrialized aesthetic, yet specifies the human choices which distinguish each file from another. Thus 'Universal' product codes are individuated with letters and numbers. 'Universals UN.0021 mh', made with the participation of Madelaine Hoffman dramatically displays how the negative space creates additional structures, as the whiteness of the ground becomes visually contained by a symmetrical proliferation of units into a cyclindrical tightness of shiny gray constraint. By contrast, an asymmetrical distribution of color in 'Universals UN.0067 it', with the participation of Irene Tsasos, seems to generate a stronger quotient of idiosyncratic personality, lending the abstracted form an apparent stance in space, just as ancient Kouros figures move from the straight and narrow into more dynamic portraiture through their simple shift in posture, one leg forward, one leg back. So too the relative contrast in light and shadow of 'UN.0067 it' posits an action stance. In yet another example, the limpid and yet flat pool of lavender which centers 'Universals UN.0008 hs', done in concert with Hope Schneider, subtly reinforces the mixture of 3D contouring, flat printing and floating ground previously so characteristic of the screenprinting of the 60's.
As the Handbook makes clear, the ChanSchatz editions represent only the material output of a larger conceptual framework which is itself to be more properly considered as the ultimate work of art. It is a move reminiscent of Andy Warhol's aesthetic franchise. Collaborative intention, mutuality, consensuality, and reciprocity are highlighted in a socially conscious process. The viewers, participants, and artists are communally engaged in a breeding program of visual combinations, each with a unique life of their own. It is as if the team has set loose a virus which uses the participation of artworld devotees to desseminate itself in an ever larger pattern. For all the precise detail and slickness of presentation which characterize their production, ChanSchatz do not ignore the bottom line of actual substance. It appears as if they may be among the first artists to successfully meld traditional artmaking vocabularies within a digital context, losing nothing in the process, and gaining a great deal of dynamic synergism along the way.
Tobey Crockett is a Los Angeles-based writer, art critic and investigator of digital media and interactivity. She recently received an Artist's Fund grant from the New York Foundation for the Arts to continue her exploration of virtual world building vocabularies; her virtual world is Tobey Crockett's Wild Frontier (TCWF), located in the Eduverse browser of ActiveWorlds. Current projects include developing new theory for understanding interactivity, with a specific focus on an 'aesthetics of play and empathy in avatar worlds'. Her recent essay 'The Computer as a Dollhouse' is to be included in a forthcoming anthology about the 'Metaphors of Cyberspace'. Crockett is the conference coordinator for 'Life By Design: Everyday Digital Culture'.
TCWF is an ongoing work in progress – an exploration of how virtual worlds can function as an interactive creative playspace for artistic self expression. One of the first requirements for understanding how virtual worlds can be used to foster new aesthetic experiences is to establish a lexicon of artistic tropes, techniques and devices which can be used by builders in virtual worlds. TCWF is intended to explore the idea of world as "self portrait", doubling as a location wherein the artist can map out all the available inputs, such as original authoring of models, backgrounds and avatars and the artistic exploration of such unique virtual worlds features as teleportation, triggers, multiple frame viewing, and external inputs such as webcams, music and other sound elements.
TCWF has been exhibited in 2001 in the exhibition "IMmediate Distance", a CalArts Integrated Media program under the aegis of Sara Roberts and Jennifer Steinkamp. At that time, the theme of the ride was "witchy women", which featured images of witches, supernatural signifiers and Ada Lovelace. More recently, TCWF hosted the talk "The Computer As A Dollhouse - or The Seriousness of Virtual Play in Avatar Worlds" presentation in February 2002 at the UCLA Digital Cultures Conference. In July 2002, TCWF was presented at an Art Gallery talk at Siggraph entitled, "Fun, Love & Happiness - An Aesthetics of Play and Empathy in Avatar Worlds".
Crockett is from New York City where she participated in the Lower East Side art scene of the 1980's as a curator, small time gallerist and occasional artist. She received her Master's Degree in Critical Theory from the Art Center College of Design in 2000, where she worked closely with Dr. Michael Heim. She is currently enrolled in the University of California at Irvine's PhD Program in Visual Studies.www.lemonskyprojects.com/projects/index.html
Natural' is work that I created from a group of animations that became a kind of painting game created using the software Flash. The animations come from drawings I made of a 'natural' landscape. The mouse helped me to arrive at something that came from within the software, rather than sampled from somewhere else. Drawings that the computer could re-interpret, often using random changes of the properties of the image: colour, scale and rotation. I drew from memory and from anything around me in my loft in New York that reminded me of the landscape. A related series of lenticular prints are the end result of playing the game and wanting to have an image that retains some part of the animation.
I wanted to describe the feeling I had of a half forgotten landscape. I wanted to reduce all psychological, optical and mnemonic depth to a play of images on the surface of the picture. The use of the software's' random changes and the use of lenticular printing are attempts to reinforce the idea of the image as so much information travelling and changing across the surface of the screen. The image as information and the reading of imagery as information.
Digital art comes about because of the computers' ability to process enormous amounts of information. For my purposes the drawing becomes manipulated often using random commands to re-interpret the image. I am interested in what happens to the gesture, like the landscape when it is treated as manipulatable. What is achieved and what is lost?
The edition of digital animations is made from Flash movies that I used in the painting game. The music comes from an arrangement of A.E. Housemans' Into my heart an air that kills by that most forgotten of British composers, C. W. Orr. Written in 1935 it comes from a time period in Britain between the wars when the loss of the British landscape was most keenly felt by its' artists. Poets and composers responded to industrialization and the loss of nearly a whole generation of young men to the First. War. The song has been digitally re-mixed by the musicians: beri beri, and Ilana. Into my heart an air that kills From yon far country blows: What are those blue remembered hills, What spires, what farms are those?
That is the land of lost content, I see it shining plain, The happy highways where I went And cannot come again.
Project Artists - Tropical America
Stephen Metts, Producer
TROPICAL AMERICA: an online game about the histories of Latin America
Take a sledgehammer to the logic of linear time. OnRamp Arts' 'Tropical America' invites you to weave through 500 years of Latin American history, collecting sugar cane and speaking to the gods along the way. Save lives instead of ending them. Follow a narrative that is not only intriguing, but soaked in history. A video game disguised as a puppet show, a woodcut for the Flash generation. Best of all become a Hero of the Americas, and help create a memorial to those whose history has been forgotten.
Developed in collaboration with teachers, artists and Los Angeles high school students, most from new immigrant families, Tropical America explores the causes and effects of the erasure of history in vivid and compelling ways. Entitled in tribute to the Los Angeles mural by David Alfaro Siqueiros, whitewashed in 1932 due to its controversial content.
The story of Rufina Amaya, sole survivor of the 1981 massacre in El Mozote in El Salvador, provides the contextual anchor and the impetus from which Tropical America begins. The player's challenge is to discover four pieces of evidence that will bring justice to the memory of the murdered villagers. As a thematic interactive video game, Tropical America features four inter-related, cross-cultural episodes culled from 500 years of Latin American history.
Each episode functions as a story within a story, revealing the profound connections between seemingly disparate events. What do the myth of El Dorado, the battles of Bolivar, the single-crop economy of Cuba, or the poems of Sor Juana de la Cruz have in common? And how did each of these contribute to a tragic December day hundreds of years later? Bearing witness, Tropical America reveals a forgotten terrain, the birthplace of contemporary cross-cultural life.
Tropical America represents the talents of many extraordinary people. More extensive biographies of the creative team members are available on request. The principles are:
Stephen Metts, Producer
Jessica Irish, Director and Designer
Juan Devis, Director and Writer
Artemio Rodríguez, Illustrator
Catasonic Studio, Sound Designer
One strand of my work examines the relationship between art and language by capitalizing on the ideographic elements of Chinese calligraphy. By "faking" calligraphy through "drawing" (rather than writing) contemporary images such as corporate logos, I seek to raise questions and problematize the notions of tradition, authenticity and perception of cultural and linguistic differences.
In another body of work that is ongoing, I play with the viewers' perception and their psychological state, by creating ambiguous spaces and surfaces that change with the presence or absence of light. Through subtle deception of visual senses, I seek to question some of our normalized perceptions of everyday realities.
A third strand of work explores perceptions of reality through a series of interactive games. These often involve word play, through which new words or new hybridized languages are created. By recreating recreational games, I question the assumptions that reduce the complexity of contemporary realities into dichotomies of work vs. play, aesthetics
Compartmentalizing everyday life into a binary of work vs. play is a common social assumption and practice. In one body of work, I examine the relationship and the overlapping space between work and play.
Globalopoly (2002) is one of several interactive games in this body of work. The act of playing the game takes the player/ viewer through time (colonial history) and space (six continents). Globalopoly visually analyzes the complex web of colonial and postcolonial histories that tie together individuals and communities, nation-states, continents, and hemispheres. The game retains the dynamics inherent in the original board game that it mimics and transfers these dynamics on a global scale. By naming and implicating the players in the playful format of a game, I seek to activate viewers to respond to this game that cor-responds to everyday realities throughout the globe. In collaboration with Alan So, a San Francisco-based digital artist, the game took on a digital manifestation, based on the premise of the global viewer/ player/ audience - the viewer who is complicit and partakes in the digital divide in a system that is in service of global capital through technology.
My work explores perceptions of reality through games that I re-create from existing recreational games. Through these interactive games, I seek to question prevailing assumptions that reduce the complexity of everyday life into simplistic binaries of work vs. play, aesthetics vs. ethics, and social games vs. societal realities.www.makcenter.org/index.html
In the spirit of Rudolf M. Schindler, the experimental architect and social utopian, the MAK Center seeks out and supports projects and ideas which break the disciplinary boundaries between the fields of art and architecture. Established in 1994 through an agreement between the MAK - Austrian Museum of Applied Arts - Vienna, supported by the Republic of Austria, and the Friends of the Schindler House, the MAK Center examines what is shared and what is distinct in the practices of artists and architects who work with spatial concepts. Through its programs, the MAK Center acts as a "think tank" for current issues in art and architecture, encouraging explorations of practical and theoretical aspects and engaging the center's places, spaces, and histories. The MAK Center offers a year-round schedule of exhibitions, symposia, lectures, performances, workshops, and publications and hosts a residency program for visiting artists and architects. It joins the Friends of the Schindler House in their mission to preserve, promote, and make publicly accessible the Schindler House.
Portfolio Members include:
Neil Denari and Roberto Davolio (Neil M. Denari Architects)
Craig Hodgetts and Hsin-Ming Fung (Hodgetts + Fung Design Associates)
Greg Lynn (FORM)
Thom Mayne (Morphosis)
Eric Owen Moss (Eric Owen Moss Architects)
Andrea Zittel and Jonathan Williams
JEFF RIDENOUR (sound design) was born in California, and grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska. Jeff studied music and physics at UC Berkeley and holds a Masters in Contrabass Performance from UC San Diego. While there, he worked extensively with Miller Puckette and also studied improvisation with George Lewis. Subsequently Jeff received a Heartz traveling scholarship and studied for three years at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, where he received a Second Phase degree at the Institute of Sonology. Jeff is currently pursuing a master's degree in Information and Computer Science at UC Irvine. He is interested in improvisation and live electronics, automatic composition, and electroacoustic music involving improvisation. He is particularly interested in designing improvising algorithms that allow the computer to be treated as another performer rather than simply as an instrument. He is also interested in artificial intelligence, specifically different aspects of machine learning such as genetic programming, and reinforcement learning. Jeff has also done a good deal of research on extended techniques for the contrabass in conjunction with improvisation, including subharmonics, overpressure, difference tones, and mechanical alternatives for string excitation.188.8.131.52/
b. 1971, Israel
Shirley's art projects and authored texts appeared in magazines such as ART-BYTE, ART-PAPERS, Studio, Mute, Telepolis and Rhizome.
She was the Pacific Northwest regional editor for the Rhizome organization and had for over two years a Cyber-Culture column in the leading Israeli art magazine - Studio. She is involved with the Internet media search start-up Friskit, Inc. where she was part of the conceptual product planning team. In her work she looks at scientific enquiry from the perspective of the artist, and at art from the perspective of life. Her projects have been presented in galleries, museums and new media festivals around the US. Most of her works are technology-based as she aims to construct a unique experience within a given space. She strives to create a mini-reality through which the viewer can walk and interact.
Shirley's bases her work on postmodern concepts to span a variety of software art, multimedia performance, robotics, digital print, and new media installations.
Shirley holds BA in Art History and Philosophy from the Tel-Aviv University, and is currently an MFA candidate at the Conceptual Information Art program, San Francisco State University, California. She's also currently interns at Leonardo magazine (MIT Press), and work on UNESCO project.
Website, VRML multi-user virtual world, using the Blaxxun multi-user client and server
A Blaxxun VRML multi-user virtual world, this is the first iteration of an ongoing project to explore complementary methods for meaningfully mapping a topic of conversation with a 3D topology, but without privileging one or other as sign or signified. In this version, I used a limited set of words; "crystal", "slur", and "constellation".
In a grey featureless expanse floats a crystalline structure formed of 23 nested semi-transparent cubes scaling progressively towards their centre. We are familiar with this structure from previous work (see: documentation of my multi-user worlds, at http://www.matthew.sloly.net), but in this iteration, the cubes do not constitute an architecture; it cannot be entered and occupied by an avatar. It has more discrete agency than its predecessors. The 23 nested semi-transparent cubes that produce a kind of focal point in "the world" which echoes the 3D (x,y,z) grid in which the geometry that comprises the world is plotted. Its centre is a clear precisely because it cannot be penetrated. The nested cubes, scaling downwards to their centre suggest the possibility of an infinity of worlds within worlds, and layers of meaning that extend beyond the scale of the visible, yet their surfaces represent the finitude of any given world. Its centre is defined not only by its internal structure, but by the distance it keeps from the other members of the world. When it is approached it stands up and walks away. If an avatar can move quickly maybe it can scale the cubes, catch a ride like a bird on an elephant's back.
The slugs drag little bits of scrolling text. The letters are white upon the ambiguous grey ground and overlap with each other, such that they are still legible, but due to the motion of the slugs, and despite the attentiveness of the eye, the reader will inevitably slip from one text to the other without ever reading a single passage in its entirety. This swarming behavior of these elements was achieved via rudimentary AI. Each slug for instance was attracted to each other, but would evade any slug that got too close to it, the same was true of the cube, which also was attracted and repulsed by the slugs, getting up and walking away when necessary. In this way the constellation of elements remained in a constant state of flux. The swarming constellation of elements had randomizing effect on the reading of the texts, such that there was an inevitable slippage between texts as one text moved in front of or behind another, but this is not a random cut-up method, in that all the referents constitute variable but related elements, and so give play to this dichotomy that animates the world, endowing it with a semblance of a voice of its own. All of this activity conspires to give the impression that this world could indeed be some kind of microcosmic ecosystem.
On one level the title of the work, "crystal/slur/constellation", is a poetic devise constituting the progression of the work via the linking together of its desperate and arbitrary elements. On the other level, it alludes to the main elements that constitute the virtual world of which it is the title. These words form and reflect the content of the world, literally, as a topology and a topic, and are poetically related in the context of the 3D elements that make up the virtual world. "Crystal" refers to the nested transparent cube, "slur" to the slug-like agents that swarm near to the cubes (the word "slug" is etymologically related to "slur"), and "constellation" refers to the shifting arrangements and interrelationships of all of the above. Starting with these three words, I then looked found as many etymological cognates for each that I could (in the Merriam Webster's Online Dictionary), and entered these into the database, which would randomly assign a collection of them to each slug. So the slugs swarmed round the cube, and the dictionary entries swarmed round the slugs.
Etymology is often concerned with the root meaning of words, even though the evolution of languages happens within geographical space, parallel to, and in proximity with, its related branches. As user communities diverge geographically, new contexts are encountered. The meaning of extant words, within the finite lexicon of a language-community, are extended via metaphor and the addition of prefixes and suffixes, just to name a few of the factors affecting the morphology of a word. Then through the proximity of these user communities to each other, and the inevitable convergences that such proximities assure, words are exchanged among them, so that words having a common root, but divergent meaning, come to exist side by side, in the lexicon of a given language-community. This shifting constellation of elements opens the possibility of radicalizing language, articulating both new and archaic meanings, in the sense of "to return to the roots", which are both divergent and convergent, in which topical coherence is emergent and self reflexive with topological variance. World as a context of relations, is a text, texture, and textile (all three being etymologically related). Meaning is interwoven, is an interweaving, is emergent from the entropic slippages between texts. The focused act of reading is simultaneously fore grounded as its posture is relaxed, the text becoming ambient, its linearity thwarted. Here text becomes texture, slipping between itself, folding and unfolding the symbolic, the formal, and the metaphoric.