Saturday, October 31, 2009

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer

In Vectorial Elevation (1999-2000), Lozano-Hemmer created an interactive project that was first planned out as a celebration for the then upcoming year 2000. He set up eighteen searchlights in Mexico City's Zocalo Square and the light beams could be seen from a 15 km radius. Every 15 seconds, the lighting would change according to new participant's designs. The searchlights were connected by data cables and used Global Positioning System trackers. These searchlights were controlled by a three-dimensional web-based simulation program (Java 3D interface) to choreograph the light beam patterns and create light sculptures. Then these visuals on landscape were captured by digital cameras and the images and videos were broadcasted live online. On the website, any participant with internet access is able to design light sculptures for the actual landscape. Then each participant received a personalized web page via email with their images of their design, virtual renditions, and their information. The web pages were uncensored which allowed the participants to leave a variety of messages. There were around 800,000 participants from 89 countries for within two weeks for the project. Lozano-Hemmer later more installations in a similar nature as the Vectorial Elevation (, Mark Tribe).

"Lozano-Hemmer calls this type of performance 'Relational Architecture,' which he defines as 'the technological actualization of buildings with alien memory.' In other words, laypeople and passersby (who possess the 'alien' memories of outsiders) can construct new meanings for edifices, usually via technological tools -- such as Internet software and robotic lights... According to Lozano-Hemmer, 'light projections...can achieve the desired monumental scale, can be changed in real time, and their immateriality makes their deployment more logistically feasible'...Vectorial Elevation was hard to ignore because of its giant scale and inescapable presence. But Lozano-Hemmer describes his project as an 'anti-monument' that serves primarily as a platform for public self-expression" (Mark Tribe). Also, on Lozano-Hemmer's website (, he states that he makes an allusion to Sol LeWitt’s "art of instructions” as well as László Moholy-Nagy’s paintings by telephone in 1922.

The fact that the project was exhibited where there are naturally many people gathered in an open space coincides with the project's participatory nature in that people in Mexico City and many countries were able to participate in the same experience through the internet or through their own eyes. I like the concept where it is personal but at the same time public because Lozano-Hemmer offered the foundation of the program and the set up of the searchlights and then allowed any participant to create their own personalized lighting design, express themselves through text, and show their public. I was actually able to go to the website and explore how the interactive process worked. It gave a new perspective on how space and movement worked with the project's web-based program because I initially had seen the captured image of the actual searchlights shown in Mexico City. I was able to choose different settings, move through different specified areas, and explore variations for the light beam forms. The designs for the light beams are almost limited to certain settings so it seems that there is a limit to the participant's creative process but we can still direct the light in different angles and view it from different points of the location. I felt that an individual's text was also an interesting and expressive addition to personalize their designs. One of my concerns would be that some might concentrate more on the "spectacle." I looked at the list of Lozano-Hemmer's works and I liked the concepts of the Microphones, Reporters With Borders, Close-Up. Many of his projects seem to reflect on participation, interaction, changing through time, observation, records, etc. I think participating in the Microphones project would be an interesting experience.


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Jonah Brucker-Cohen and Katherine Moriwaki

(close-up) uses a mobile ad-hoc network to link either iPaqs (PocketPC computers) or bluetooth equipped Personal Digital Assistants (PDA) that were attached to white umbrellas. The sensors in the umbrella detects whether the umbrella is opened or closed. When a participant opens their umbrella, the sensors notify the opened state of the umbrella so then the hardware attached to their umbrella communicates to the PDAs to start up a connection with other PDAs. Then the Light-emitting diodes (LED) illuminate their umbrella either in blue or red to show their connection state. There are three states that include a red-lit umbrella showing that it is searching for a connection. A blue-lit umbrella indicates that it is connected to other umbrellas. If the umbrella has a flashing blue state, it means that it is transmitting data between umbrellas. The iPaq and PDAs include a text-messaging application to communicate with other participants holding the umbrellas. They also include a graphical interface to show where each participant is in relation to their own umbrella. ( )

The artists' website includes their statement and vision for their project:
" is a project exploring transitory or ad-hoc networks and their potential for causing sudden, striking, and unexpected connections between people in public and urban space. The project focuses on the theme of 'networks of coincidence', or how shared, yet disconnected activities can be harnessed into collective experiences. examines how the haphazard and unpredictable patterns of weather and crowd formation can act as an impetus to examine coincidence of need networks..." The artists also portray an image of the streets of Dublin, Ireland where there is "frequent and unpredictable is common to witness a sea of umbrellas in the crowded streets sweeping open as raindrops first hit the ground. This collective, yet isolated act of opening an umbrella creates a network of individuals who are connected through similarity of action, and intent...we believe these transitory networks can add surprise and beauty to our currently fixed communication channels in the crowded streets sweeping open as raindrops first hit the ground" ( The Mark Tribe website also provides connections between aspects on society and the project's relations to other artists such as John Klima's Ecosystm and Christo and Jean-Claude's Umbrella Project. It states that "The absurd nature of the umbrella's enhanced functionality seems to poke fun at the increasing ubiquity of digital technology in the early 2000s, from robotic vacuum cleaners to microwave ovens that utilize live Web data to determine cooking times" (Mark Tribe).

I like the idea of connections and coincidences due to natural circumstances, in this case, rainfall. Everyone has something in common physically when they they are affected by the rain and use an umbrella to shield themselves from the rain, and when we see this image from afar, we can see an almost common movement of umbrellas. The image posted above creates an interesting and unexpected combination of a captured colored image of real participants holding the LED umbrellas on a background of a grainy black and white photograph of a street in Dublin during a rainfall. The people on the image almost seem out of place compared to the background from it's "flash of color" coming from the LED umbrellas. This is where I can see why the Mark Tribe website thought that the artists might be "poking fun at the increasing ubiquity of digital technology." However, from reading the artists' statement on their project, I think it is possible that they were at the same time focusing more on the phenomenons of making connections between people in a public space ( and that their project creates a new aesthetic approach to technological and communicative connections.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

John Klima

In American Cinema (2002), John Klima used a dual Java applet to show still images from horror films on the left side of the frame and pornographic films on the right side of the frame. There are 50 images in each frame with one image placed on top of a larger preceding image. Through the use of three-dimensional rendering technology, Klima was able to stack the images on top of each other and allow the viewer to see a zoom into the image until it gets out of focus to bring out the next image that was stacked on the frame (CityArt). Klima is known for his computer software art in which he creates programs and game-like environments so that the viewer can participate in the artwork by maneuvering certain aspects in the artwork such as movement, actions, and (in Glasbead) the creation of musical sounds (MarkTribe). In American Cinema, Klima "allows the viewer to zoom through the stack by clicking and dragging the mouse up and down over the image" (CityArt).

Klima uses close ups of faces from still images of both horror and pornographic films rather than the whole body. This allows us to compare and contrast facial expressions, emotions, and messages expressed from the images displayed. Also, Klima places two quotes separated by both frames on the bottom and a titled quote at the top. The quote on the left states: " is far easier to slash a breast..." and on the right: "...than to kiss one..." with the top quote saying, " American Cinema..." Klima states in his CityArt website that, "it is odd that the images on the left, frequently displaying mutilation, rape, and torture, are far more disturbing than those on the right, yet the images on the right are considered 'X' rated and the left only 'R' rated." Therefore, the artwork questions the censorship on media and allows us to judge on what makes something more disturbing and forbidden to a viewer compared to something else.

I think it gives an interesting observation to visuals as we compare and contrast two images on a split screen as different images dissolve onto another. When we think of sex and violence, I feel that there is a tendency in America to strongly oppose and protest against portrayals of sex rather than violence. The rating system and censors in America seems to be able to accept more images of violence than portrayals of sex. Therefore, I agree with what Klima was trying to explain through his art in that the depiction of violence tends to be more disturbing than the depiction of sex. At some points during the viewing, I felt that a few of the images of facial expressions shown side by side were almost identical which made it more difficult to distinguish which image was worse. However, the motionless quotes shown below each of the frames gave me a constant reminder that one frame represented images from horror films and the other from pornographic films. I then thought about the portrayal of violence in sex, such as rape, and how the two aspects combined create a larger force of disturbance. Also, historically, there have been films such as Midnight Cowboy that received an X-rating at the time of its release for it's portrayal of sex and male-prostitution which seemed to be a forbidden subject for censors at the time. Now the film has an R-rating after it won an Academy Award and the sexual aspects do not seem as explicit controversial now with the R-rating and the passing of time. I was also not able to download the programs presented in Klima's CityArts website and I only looked at images and videos of his artwork and what others have done when participating in his programs. I might've had a different experience with the artwork if I was participating in it because I could also create various movements and actions within the art and observe the variations that could be shown when another person collaborates with the art.


Saturday, October 10, 2009

Young-Hae Chang and Marc Voge

In Bust Down the Door Again! Gates of Hell-Victoria Version, the original text using flash animation in the color red from Bust Down the Door! is superimposed over a photograph of their own exhibition in the Rodin Gallery a the Samsung Museum of Art. The Rhizome website describes most of creations from Chang and Voge: "using Flash animation techniques, they create fast-moving, text-based artworks that are synchronized with original scores. Seemingly an extremely simple format—text on monochromatic backgrounds— YHCHI carefully choreographs texts that weave complex and evocative narratives." The photograph shows on the left: Gates of Hell by Rodin and on the right: the actual video of Bust Down the Door Again... displayed on nine Samsung internet refrigerator screens,referring to Dante's Inferno and the nine circles of Hell. These internet refrigerators are stacked on top of each other and face Rodin's Gate of Hell where Rodin also depicted Dante's Inferno (MarkTribe). The original text is shown changing quickly and simultaneously with the jazz music's rhythm with an unidentified, robotic-like woman's voice reading the text to us as it keeps changing. The original Bust Down the Door! is slightly different since it provides a different soundtrack of jazz music, no narrator, a countdown like the start of silent films, and the text is black usually with a white background. However, the text is the same; describing a story of "a midnight raid on a home by unidentified armed aggressors: 'They bust open the door while you sleep, rush into your home, enter your bedroom, drag you out of bed, push you in your underwear out into the street...' The point of view begins in the second person, then shifts to first and third person, offering various perspectives on the narrative" (MarkTribe).

In the Gates of Hell-Victoria Version, Chang and Voge "thought that an Internet refrigerator would be an unusual way of presenting Net Art. Advertisers would have us believe that the Internet refrigerator puts the housewife at the cutting-edge of modern, hi-tech life. We titled our piece The Gates Of Hell because, on the contrary, we feel that their refrigerator helps keep women in the kitchen." The Mark Tribe website describes Chang and Voge's work from their Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries in that "most New Media art employs interactivity to engage us as participants in the work. Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries eschews interaction, but the result is hardly a passive experience. By accelerating the pace at which the text appears to a rate just within the threshold of human cognition, the artists coax us into a state of rapt concentration. Bust Down The Doors! is remarkable for its ability to produce a strong, visceral impact with limited means. Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries' work is closely related to both concrete poetry and experimental cinema. A connection to film history is explicitly signaled by the artists' consistent use of a title screen that reads 'YOUNG-HAE CHANG HEAVY INDUSTRIES PRESENTS,' as well as a numerical countdown that is similar to those that preceded early movies." Therefore, the text of Bust Down the Doors gives us different perspectives on one story. Also, the quick paced display of texts make it difficult to read each word as another word comes up. We try to concentrate more on reading the text and/or try to understand the overall meaning as the texts pass with the rhythm of the jazz music. The original score is ironic with it's relaxed but fast-paced tone paired with the texts describing "sex, violence, alienation, and the insignificance of human life" (Mark Tribe). Also, the fact that the stacked internet refrigerators face Rodin's The Gates of Hell complement the darker tone of Bust Down the Doors! even when they seem to be a non-traditional pairing. This also comments on the positive and negative impacts of technology.

When I first looked at the Bust Down the Doors!, the title immediately grabbed my attention with its intense and bold statement. I thought the music and more simple font for the texts gave an ironic tone since the story describes a more violent scene. I tried reading all of the text but soon found that it was more important to understand the meaning and tone of the piece rather than knowing every word from the screen. I also liked how the artists made a connection to women in the kitchen with the internet refrigerators. Historically, women used to have domestic roles such as being in the kitchen and Chang and Voge's new version of Bust Down the Doors! brings a perspective on the past, present, and future on our dependence on technology and how it can consume our lives. I feel that new inventions and forms of technology are growing at a fast rate in today's society with inventions such as the digital coffee table and the internet refrigerators. It is interesting to see how society adapts to the new forms of technology while also showing negative aspects.


Sunday, October 4, 2009

Wolfgang Staehle

In Empire 24/7, Staehle set up a digital camera in his office in New York and fixed the camera to stay pointing at the Empire State Building. In short time intervals, Staehle captured images of the building and transmitted them through the Internet to the ZKM Center for Art and Media to be projected in a gallery at his 1999 "Net Condition" exhibition ( According to the Mark Tribe website, "Staehle titled the installation Empire 24/7 in reference to Andy Warhol's Empire (1964), an eight-hour-long film in which the camera focuses on the Empire State Building from dusk until dawn. Like Warhol, Staehle frames the Empire State Building in a prolonged static shot that draws attention, through the absence of action and camera movement, to the structure of the tower itself, to the effects of light on the building and in the sky, and to the act of viewing itself."

Through Empire 24/7, Staehle wanted to observe and remark on the widespread popularity and availability of the Internet to be able to communicate and show something to everyone. Posting Empire 24/7 on the Internet and galleries enabled participation in the viewing experience. Therefore, the occurrence of creating art can be simultaneously viewed as it is being created. There is a notion of globalization which is now an important topic that is discussed and argued about frequently. With the internet, there are now more "blurred boundaries" since there is widespread access to information all over the world. This also relates to his founding of "The Thing" which was an electronic bulletin board system which hosted a forum online and created a community where information and discussions could be displayed. According to the Mark Tribe website, "Staehle's Web cam work reflects the temporal compression of Internet communication...according to Staehle, Empire 24/7 is about 'instant images for instant consumption.' Staehle's project shows how the ubiquity of Web cameras have produced a Warholian environment in which even the most mundane scene is available to anyone with Internet access, at any time, anywhere -- 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Staehle's projection created the impression of a virtual window..."

I was reminded of the time lapse technique when I read about Staehle's works. However, the fact that they are all still photographs that change with time allows us to focus on one image at a time as the time goes by. This piece appeals to me because not everyone is able to capture and observe every moment of something each second of the day. However Staehle's work makes the viewing experience possible and available to anyone with the internet. It is interesting to be able to see the same image but with different "looks" due to natural circumstances and changes.