Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Final Paper

Mark Cypher and Bruce Shapiro
     The Natural World and Our Footprint

             Throughout my research of digital media artists I came across two differing artists that grabbed my attention through various mediums of interaction, illumination and digital processes.  Mark Cypher, an interactive artist creates surreal pictures through digital means while Bruce Shapiro uses scrapped mechanical components to create motion.  Each artist is unique in their own right but each offers an different view of life through various digital means.
      Mark Cypher is a working artist, educator, sculptor and designer who received his masters of visual arts in sculpture in 1995.  Currently the senior lecturer and program chair for Interactive Digital Design and Games Art and Design at Murdoch University in Western Australia.  Cyphers work studies the affect of participation on digital means of art.
     Inspired by nature during his earlier sculpting works, Cyphers work focuses on the relationship between humans and our environment.  Much of his earlier works are sculpture of natural shapes such as insects and plant-life.  He moved into a more critical view of human nature in his series Objects Are Us,where he began to study the relationship between the various “non-functioning” decorations we buy and ourselves.  This study and his interest in digital projection and process brought him into one of his more interacting projects call “Gardenus”. 
    “Gardenus” is more simply broken down into garden-us.  In this project Cypher takes the following quote by Charles Darwin in 1859 and breaks it apart to allow the viewer to interact.  It reads, “In the struggle for survival, the fittest win out at the expense of their rivals because they succeed in adapting themselves best to their environment.”  Cypher uses a program that allows the viewer to change a particular organism by changing three particular words in the Darwin quote. Survival, adapting and abilities.
     Once you click on this link http://www.markcypher.com/gardenus/gardenus_enter.html  you enter the gardenus.  Cypher explains that there are numerous convincing arguments for and against Charles Darwin's theories and that while there are many arguments, the true narrative depends on who is discussing or telling the particular Darwin idea.   Cypher discusses that evolution is dependent on the person viewing and telling the story of evolution.  Cypher says, “The practice and making of artificial life is a metaphor for Neo-Darwinist ideas about nature and the evolution of organisms.”
     By clicking on the Gardenus link and plugging in three different words, the viewer has the power to change the particular organism.  Direct control is not evident but general control of the outcome is dependent upon what words are plugged in.  Cypher named this particular project Gardenus because it plays with the fact that we, as humans, try to have total control over our environment, including gardens.
     Humans struggle to control everything and have a clear knowledge about everything in our universe.  We want a complete control over our lives and where life leads us.  So, to Cypher, the idea of the garden and allowing a change to the digital garden gives the user a feeling of a godlike power.  In digital currents, Margot Lovejoy says, “The computer reads electronically scanned aspects of reality as information about light structures, storing this numerical information in its database, which can eventually be programmed to appear as visual imagery.” (p. 152)  Lovejoy basically describes work on a computer as scanned reality.  Through Cyphers work, he is able to concentrate on the role we play in our environment and how we can digitally simulate that role.
     Bruce Shapiro is a California based artist who started out in the medical field as a general practitioner.  He moved into the science field and began studying the art of motion and the control of that motion.  After contacting Shapiro, he explained to me that his fascination with motion and the motion in the natural world pushed him to create beautiful pieces of artwork.
     Digital Currents (p. 47) says, “curiosity about natural phenomena, scientific and mathematical puzzles and their relationship to aesthetic problems led many visual artists to experiment with machine parts and materials, to probe new phenomenological mysteries for their aesthetic potential.”  Shapiro definitely uses his science and medical background to create machines that produce a beautiful array of artwork.  Shapiro has a series of his first digital works called eggbot.  Eggbot is a machine that holds onto an egg and draws a pattern on the egg.  Shapiro can control various output modes to create a new pattern on the egg.  He teaches children the art of motion control by helping them create their own simpler versions of eggbot.
     Following Eggbot, Shapiro worked on various projects using machines to move through sand, using machines with wind and using machines with water to create usually pleasing and scientifically based works of art.  Shapiro states that motion control is an “industry term used to describe a variety of techniques for orchestrating the movement of machinery and objects, “robotics”, “CNC” and “automation” are all forms of motion control”.  He desires to show that motion control is an emerging medium for artistic expression
     Shapiro did a series called Pipedream in which he uses multiple hollow clear plastic tubes connected to a machine,  The machine is then programmed to control the output of water.  In Pipedream I, Shapiro needed to create a piece for the Science Museum of Minnesota.  The only requirements for this piece was that it had to be hanging and be kinetic and interactive.  He hung 16 tubes from the ceiling and filled them with a specific amount of water and air.  He then put a foot control keyboard on the ground in which museum visitors could walk across and control the output of water and air.  This first rendition of Pipedream proved to have many problems including the keyboard.
     So, in Pipedream II, Shapiro began to play with color in the water so as to create a different visual aesthetic.  He also moved the output sensors out from under the publics feet and used an optical sensor to continue to allow for audience interactivity.   The viewers can walk by and depending on the positioning of their body can control the output of water.  
     In Pipedream III Shapiro was able to work out all of the kinks and issues that he had in the previous two models.  Shapiro more than tripled the amount of clear plastic tubes to ninety-six and worked with the tuning to make sure that the bubbles within the tubes reached the top of the structure at the same time.  He then programmed a machine that hooked up to each of the tubes which pushed out a specific amount of air at a particular time.  As the bubbles moved up the plastic tubing a recognizable face would appear, such as Marilyn Monroe, Elvis and Winston Churchill.  He began to work with the program so that a person in the gallery could be photographed on a web-cam and be put into the program and become a picture within the water and bubbles.
To view the pipedream series, simply click the following link.
     “The machine “represented an intrusion, a menace.” (p. 48)  While many people over the past century and even further back have believed that technology has brought about the destruction of our society, Shapiro and Cypher have used it to express their views of the world and to use our natural environment to create their artwork.  While Cyphers work is more of an interactive application to bring about the idea of controlling and shaping our environment, Shapiro’s work is more of a way to use our natural environment to create and form art.  
     Cypher uses Gardenus to allow the user to alter a given digital organism and plays with how people change Darwin's views by altering his story or changing a word.  This interactive process allows for the viewer to feel some sort of a control over the natural process of growth to feel an almost god-like power.  Cyphers work focuses on how society wants to control the natural world and create in their own right what they believe that world needs to be.
     Shapiro’s work focuses on the relationship that we share with our environment and how we can use science and the natural world to create new forms of art.  His views of the natural world are that we can use all natural things such as water, sand, dirt, plant-life, etc. alongside machinery and technology to create various artworks.  His work causes the viewer to think about the natural world and the idea that there is a greater power behind the natural process causing these natural things to move and change.  
            Both of these digital media artists have been able to use their digital means to create a new aesthetic surrounding the natural world and how we as humans affect that world.  While they come at the issue of our effect on environment differently, they have both come across a unique style of interactive digital process to cause the viewer to think about our human footprint.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Lecture Review #1 Paho Mann

Paho Mann is an artist working in photography and various digital processes.  Much of his work is an examination of the mass produced versus individualism.  Each body of this work has a consistent theme that has brought him into his current pieces.
Mann truly began to find himself when he worked on his junk drawers and medicine cabinet project.  In an attempt to see if their was a difference between peoples junk drawers through their varying economic levels, Mann discovered that despite a difference in income, we are similar in what we hoard, what we buy, what we want, what we keep, what we need.
Mann then began to work on is re-inhabited Circle K project, in which he photographed, in the same centralized manner, a re-inhabited convenience store.  He began to really study what we create in society and how we either recycle it or throw it out.  
His final project is very interesting.  He has taken photographs of trash at the dump and has created a database that organizes the trash by certain categories so that one might see what and how much we throw out.  He then compiled an image using multiple image layers.  One of the final images was an image of all opaque/white plastic bottles which caused the viewer to look at the bottles in a different way.
Mann’s work was very eye opening in that it allows the viewer to think about the amount of waste we produce.  We buy things, hoard things and dispose of things which has a grave affect on the world and our environment.  By putting this information into an online database he has given the viewer the opportunity to see this shocking fact that humans waste so much and hoard things as if the more things we have, the more success we attain.

Lecture Review #2 Cory Arcangel

I work nights and have school during the days, so due to my work schedule and my daughter I was only able to attend one live lecture.  So, I decided to view the youtube lecture by Cory Arcangel.

         Cory Arcangel is a digital programmer that deals with program code.  Most of his projects have been focused around the idea of “stealing” program codes and tweaking with them in a certain way to make an artwork that varies from the original program.  He says, “I don’t know anything else unless it’s attached to some culture or pop culture.”
After going to school for music, he realized that he did not want to become the starving musician and started to study programming.  While in school he began to take apart programs and put them back together to screw with people.  Arcangel made a mail program that when the other students would open their mail the computer would shut down and the cd rom would shoot open.  He enjoyed watching their reactions.  
Another of his projects was called “data diaries”.  He went through the ram from his computer for each day of a one month period.  He saved the ram of 16 different colors and then created a movie of the multiple colors.  It became 128 mb of random ram of colors, pixels, shapes and lines.
One of his projects that caught my eye was his Beach Boys v. Ghetto Boys project.  In it he did something similar to the InBflat series we worked with on youtube.  Arcangel took two songs by two opposite groups like the Beach Boys and the Ghetto Boys, worked with the timing and played them simultaneously next to each other.  Be wanted to do a match up without completely editing it.
Arcangel has worked in various programs to create almost a Duchamp like feel to his work in which he takes a found, already created, program and works with it to create something new.  He works with multiple programs to create the effect that he desires at that specific time.


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Ben Hoffman Exhibition

The Cartesian Medium

Ben Hoffman graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno, with a degree in mathematics and currently works at International Gaming Technology (IGT). Inspired by mathematics and how is parallels to the world around him, Hoffman created the Cartesian method, a term he coined. The cartesian method is a process that involves creating equations and making visual graphs of those equations which yields a recognizable image. Cartesian refers to math visualization technique invented by the seventeenth century French philosopher and mathematician Rene Descartes. Hoffman was inspired by his mathematics to create artwork that used this technique. All of Hoffman's work is a product of his curiosity about the role that mathematics plays in the universe and in our daily lives.

All of his images are printed large scale and have a natural quality to them. He did a specific image called Bamboo, in 2005, of the stalk of multiple bamboo plants. While they are all digitally made, they look realistic. In order to create the images Hoffman puts the equation into digital format so that custom software can graph the equation. The computer generates the final graph which in turn creates the image. Another image, Nature Scene #1, 2010, is a snowy tree. The details of this image are absolutely breathtaking. Each of his images have used multiple equations to create shape, color, definition, and shading.

Hoffman has managed to create beautiful images using a created computer program and the mathematical equations that he plugs in. After viewing this exhibition at the Nevada Museum of Art, I have gained a greater appreciation for the digital means by which beautiful realistic images can be created. The amount of time that must have gone into the creation of each image must have been extensive and I appreciate the means by which he created each picture.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Final Project "Learning to Love You More"

Assignment #24 - cover the song "don't dream it's over".  I have always loved this song, even though its completely 80's. I decided to cover it myself and play around with various voice editing and music composing functions on my computer to come up with this track.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Final Project "The Johnny Cash Project"

I am a drawer so when I reviewed the options for the final project and saw this one, I was immediately hooked.  I have never really worked on a piece using the computer so I found this digital drawing challenging yet very rewarding.  This project was a great opportunity to be involved in the work of the great Johnny Cash and the legacy that this site has created.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

YouTube Mixer "Suffocate"


YouTube has always been a source that allows individuals to express themselves through whatever means they desire.  This song, "Suffocate", by J. Holiday is a song of deep importance and meaning to me.  I decided to search various covers of this particular song to view the differences that people portray while singing or playing the same song.