Before I get to carried away by the events of the Upgrade! Gathering now in Skopje Macedonia I’m quickly going to add the last two installments of my Ars Electronica post.
Seeing that I represent and teach at the Digital Arts Division of the Wits School of Arts I think it only appropriate that I post some of the interesting student work I saw at Ars. There were two main student exhibitions – these were linked as they were a joint venture so to speak between the Arts University at Linz (run by Dr. Christa Sommerer) and the University of Tokyo’s graduate schools of Science & Technology and Engineering). The two exhibitions were named Interface Culture – Art on the Move and Hybrid Ego respectively.
I will begin with some of the Tokyo University works, there were really very technical and many of them centered around VR, Robotics technology and Haptics – please visit the link for more of the works – they really deserve some attention.
My most favorite because it is so simple, participatory and because the artist is really into chance phenomena and how the public engage with it, is Ephemeral Melody basically a music machine that when wound produces bubbles that them float towards a set of copper robs that then produce the sounds digitally after the bubbles make a connection with the rods.
The piece positioned next to Ephemeral Melody was Virtual Asukakyo which fits in with the other more technical works. I found this piece so “Japanese” because it is ever so eccentric but very clever and all about site-seeing which is really a Japanese part time. In the small court yard in front of the gallery one can wear the VR glasses and see a virtual version of the oldest temple in Japan. This piece is meant to be located in Asukakyo and thus allows visitors to see a perfect virtual version of the temple projected on its original site. But here in Linz it is squeezed into this courtyard and is quiet eerie like a ghost temple almost. What is very clever about the piece is that is uses a realtime light sensors to give the virtual temple proper lighting and shadows.
There was a fare amount of robotics orientated work: above on the left is Kotaro a very advanced humanoid robot with its interior structure (bones) based on the human skeleton. Kotaro also has a ‘muscular system developed at the school. On the right is Robot Dancer which has a recognition system and learns from human behavior.
I was also very intrigued by the Haptic orientated work. Above is Gravity Grabber
This uses a tension system around the fingers that allows you to feel the wait of virtual or remote objects.
It works on the principal that heavy objects have weight due to gravity that impose friction in diferent directions on the fingers – of course objects that are two heavy to be held in the hand can not be sensed but it is very sensitive otherwise.
I really loved Plushie (above) more becuase it would have been a really great help to have for the work Lisa Jaffe and I made for the Fashion Week in Johannesburg this year. It is a software program that allows you to easily design 3d objects for sewing.
My last two favorites from the Hybrid Ego: Tablescape Plus on the left is such a sweet funny table game that lets you move the objects around and the projected characters move with them and you can make them interact or walk behind each other – the sound effects were really funny. boxedEgo shown above on the right is one of alot of really great interactive objects on the show. This one is really simple and effective – basically if you look into the box and speak to yourself you will soon a mini version of yourself in the box talking to yourself – really funny. There are so many more great pieces but I just don’t have the time – so please check the link.
Interface Culture showed a small groups of works that really looked at public space participation and the objects or games associated with them. I will highlight my favorite but a visit to the website is worthwhile.
Taiknam Hat on the left was labeled under ‘Environmental Interactions’ this lovely kenetic hat reacts to radio wave signals in the surrounding environment. On the right and in the middle is Episureo – drift together these are the swimming costumes (though you can use your own) designed to hold the module that picks up your motion in a large public swimming pool that has a projected graphic on the roof and allows you to manipulate and play with it and other people through swimming.
There are a great many very good works so please have a look at the online information if you are interested – these are just a small selection even of my favorites.