A cluster of empty porcelain dinnerware of differing shapes and sizes scattered around a table emit quiet sounds through a small hole in the middle. Picking up a bowl, and pressing it to one’s ear, one hears small story fragments from different cultures that relate to eating and the various dining rituals. The tableware are equipped with customized electronics that sense the arrangement of the plates, revealing different stories according to their self- proximity. The Whispering Table, by TheGreenEyl, presents to us the similarities and peculiarities of food ceremonies in a playful and entertaining way.
At times, you’ll hear someone moaning on about the good ol’ days as if it were some kind of easier pre-industrialized romantic time. Thomas Thwaites chronicles his attempt at making that time-tested convenience-reference, the toaster, from scratch. Created literally from the ground up, he began digging up the raw materials from abandoned mines around the UK; attempting to process them himself at home and finally forming them into a product that can be bought for just under £10.00. After nine months of work and using just five materials – iron, copper, mica, nickel and plastic – instead of the 100 or so used in a shop-bought version, the final cost to him was £1187.54. The laboriousness of producing even the most basic material from the ground up exposes the fallacy of that “olden days” romance mentioned earlier. It’s an electrical appliance that disavows the infrastructure on which it relies. A convenient item that rejects the convenience of consumerism. Thwaites says, “At a moment in time when the effects of industry are no longer trivial in relation to the wider environment, the throwaway toasters of today seem unreasonable. The provenance and the fate of the things we buy is too important to ignore.”
I wonder how many different shapes can be created that could be painted black, placed in just the right environment and exude a kind of ominous foreboding. This sci-fi geometric object has the extra addition of lights and sound that, on its own, rotates through a simple pattern undisturbed. When it’s approached though, the video and audio patterns eerily change – a representation of how we may interact with a strange artificial intelligence. I discovered that more than one person could approach this object, put their hands over the sensors and cause all of the lights to shine simultaneously – meaning that we had more control over this “alien” than we might otherwise have in a future encounter with such an object. I thought of posting a fuzzy video that zaps the mystery out of the experience by showing this moment, but decided instead to use three others provided by the artist himself, Félix Luque Sánchez.
At first, it could have been called “Extra Ear on Head,” but it was discovered to not be a very safe location and no doctors were willing to surgically assist with its realization. Then, Stelarc‘s “Extra Ear: ¼ Scale” was created, but a life-size model wasn’t possible using the desired biodegradable material. Later, the forearm was chosen for the ear’s location because it was smooth and thin making it easier to work with and providing a more plausible location ergonomically. Setbacks occurred after the surgical procedures over the years, but the structure of the ear was finally created using a Medpor scaffold and a suctioning of the surrounding skin as a cover that would determine it’s final ear shape. During a following procedure, a tiny microphone was inserted in the new “ear” and tested quite successfully as a wireless transmitter, but unfortunately, a few weeks later, it had to be removed because a very serious infection developed. Currently, the microphone has yet to be planted, but further surgeries are intended to bring this about so as to make it “Internet-enabled” as an extended operational system.
For “Ear On Arm,” a bodily structure has been replicated, relocated and soon, rewired for alternate capabilities. Stelarc was unable to appear to accept his Golden Nica for Hybrid Art because he had injured his non-ear arm (seems very strange saying this) in a “sporting accident,” so communication and award acceptance was presented through his “Second Life” avatar. The first two short videos are showing just a part of his discussion through “Second Life.” The third short shows parts of the surgery and successful demonstration of the inserted microphone. The Man With Three Ears is a longer video (ca. 14 min.) showing Stelarc preparing for a retrospective of his work in Paris.
I could see the humorous frustration in Jens Hauser’s face when the Men In Grey (Julian Oliver & Danja Vasiliev) came to the stage to “talk” about their project which was a prize winner in the Hybrid Art category. Two fellows, straitlaced and quite automaton-like, showing up at the podium; über-briefcases in hand, then on the floor, doing all of the speaking for them.
Living in an era of government wiretaps and feeling the ever increasing pressure of the jack-booted heel of para-corporations, we nevertheless feel mostly secure and trusting while we network online. The Men In Grey are here to present a type of situationist activity that dissects wireless network traffic, then presents it back to us as if we were looking at ourselves in a fun-house mirror – comical, yet unsettling. The video that they’ve put together is fairly self-explanatory, but I want to mention the basic tactics that may appear during an MIG situational-event:
• The Glance: Any image downloaded by a user of the network may appear on a screen on the side of their hardware and software filled briefcases.
• The Utterance: Facebook, AIM, ICQ, IRC, MSN Messenger chat, Yahoo, a.o. may also appear on the briefcase with built-in audio speaker recitation using text-to-speech synthesis.
• The Mirror: Full webpages browsed by a user on the network may appear on the briefcase display.
• The Forgotten: Earlier browsing sessions may be “replayed” to the user on their computer with each successive click.
• The Lost Identity: Webpages may be manipulated, URLs redirected, chat text altered, and images seen on one laptop could replace those in webpages of another.
• The Trace: Detailed network topology, system fingerprints, routing tables and host-names may be displayed on the side of the briefcase.
Importantly, the Men In Grey never view the output of the briefcases; nor do they store any data. All logs are destroyed by crushing the storage device – a small SD card – under foot at the point of departure. This act doubles as their calling card.
When you think of the Swiss, sometimes precision and fine craftsmanship comes to mind.
When you watch this extraordinary kinetic work of Michel & André Décosterd you are reminded of not only these qualities but you’re captivated by the hypnotic interplay of it’s sound and movement.
Metal tubes, equipped with loudspeakers that, as a group, rotate on it’s own axis and that,
at indeterminate times, seems to want to fling itself off this centre-point by thrusting forward and back; all with a beautiful organic-looking movement accompanied by sound-speed synchronization.
Three videos follow: the second of which I tried to follow the movement so that there was less chance of the tubes leaving the video frame. The third one is from the brothers themselves.
At first you walk by and you think, “Oh look! There’s a Hokusai,” –
it looks a bit out of place at the entrance to the Tabakfabrik
or probably at any of the exhibitions here in Linz.
…but then, you get right up on it and look deep down into it and you see…TRASH –
plastic, to be precise – and now you understand completely because this is a picture of mass culture.
You begin to realize that you almost walked right by this in the same way that
you might walk past a discarded plastic bottle that once held “spring” water.
It’s a zooming in from the collective mass to the individual modern icon from yestermorning.
This work, Gyre, from Chris Jordan, depicts 2.4 million pieces of plastic,
equal to the estimated number of pounds of plastic pollution that enter the world’s oceans every hour.
All of the plastic in this image was collected from the Pacific Ocean.
It’s part of the second in a series known as Running the Numbers.
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Through the use of shape memory alloy actuators, Akira Nakayasu has created an interactive installation that allows 169 artificial leaves to respond to movements of the hand. Each leaf is independently controlled and provides visual and aural stimuli that is beautiful and relaxing.
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In 2006, the Council of Europe released a report concerning human rights in Denmark. The report was highly critical of parts of the Danish legislation relating to foreigners and of the tone of the Danish debate on immigration. The Danish government began damage control measures a full month before the report was ever released to the public. Mogens Jacobsen takes the final chapter of this report as the point of departure for this work.
At the beginning of the installation, we see a computer submerged in vegetable oil coupled to a galvanic battery that consists of hundreds of potatoes (which happens to be the Danish national food). The electrical power from the network of potatoes drives a software system that suppresses most of the words in that final chapter of the ECRI report which can be seen at an online location. As the potatoes begin to dry out, rot or begin to sprout, the biological battery begins to become less effective at hiding the suppressed text because of it’s reduced power. Gradually we see a slowly uncovered controversial text – an unveiling of a report and it’s conclusions that originally were meant to be quelled.
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In 1986, Honda began developing a two-legged humanoid robot. In 2000, with a major leap in it’s style and function it was given the name ASIMO (Advanced Step in Innovative MObility). It’s practical application is enhanced by it being relatively short and lightweight but still able to reach light switches and doorknobs or provide services at a table making it suitable for living spaces of various sizes.
The improved model of ASIMO has some advanced capabilities that are pretty dazzling when you have the chance to see it in motion. I was pretty impressed by its weight-shifting and balance aptitude which, with somewhat of a delay, is a major accomplishment. It appears to be able to harmoniously react to humans physically – knowing how to walk hand-in-hand with a human or even shaking hands in that gently rocking arm motion that happens between two who meet and greet. Basic handling and maneuvering has been improved so that the robot can, for example, push a small grocery cart or carry trays of food or drink without spilling. In the videos below (a bit shaky, sorry), you’ll see, first, a very short bit of history followed by ASIMO walking forward, then backwards (emphasizing the use of sensors), and finally kicking a ball. The second video shows ASIMO‘s Hawaiian hula dance followed by a swift run (well, swift for something a little more than 4 feet tall). Next, you’ll see a pretty groovy video of ASIMO interacting with children in a kind of psychedelic paisley dervish pad and finally, you’ll see a longer, better quality video from the final ASIMO presentation. OK, I’ve added an appearance on QI with Stephen Fry too.
Height: 1.3 m (4.3 ft.)
Weight: 54 kg (119 lbs.)
Speed – Walking: 0 – 2.7 kph (0 – 1.7 mph)
Speed – Running: 6 kph (3.7 mph)
Sensors: Stereo camera (for human) • Slit laser sensor (for floor shape) •
Ultra-sonic sensor (for obstacles) • IC tag with optical communication unit
Rod Stasick is a composer in the broad sense of the term. He is interested in the creation of event-systems for various situations. Template scores are often created using a combination of graphic signs and symbols that usually suggests a syncretism of styles and methods of performance. Using these methods, he produces works in diverse disciplines (audio, video, text, mail art, conceptualism, etc.) utilizing assorted influences: Eastern Philosophy, Fluxus, The Situationist International, Oulipo, Semiotics, Discrete Event-Systems, random numbers to revamp Zen planning and forms of Information Theory.
Sound & Image
His studies with Karlheinz Stockhausen (2001-2007) have renewed his interest in various aspects of compositional integration.
Extensive number of performances
of experimental works.
Archivist for the Jerry Hunt Estate
Eternally grateful to these folks who had, in person, taken the time to encourage me in my compositional work (chronologically listed):