Tag Archives: Linden Endowment for the Arts

The algorithms of art

Art and Algorithms Digital Arts Festival

Art and Algorithms Digital Arts Festival – Jo Ellsmere: Biomechanical (click any image for full size to see the details)

The Art and Algorithms Digital Arts Festival, currently located on LEA8, will be closing at the end of December 2014, and if you haven’t already paid it a visit, I would recommend that you do. It is a continuation of the Second Life element of the art festival of the same name, which was held in Titusville, Florida, between October 3rd and 12th, 2014.

Arranged around a central landing point area are eight individual exhibition spaces offering one or more pieces by well-known SL artists. Each exhibit is highly individual in terms of subject matter, and despite the fact they are all packed into a single region, they each offer an individual environment, complete with custom media streaming and parcel windlight presets.

The landing area, designed by Pixel Sideways, initially served as a tutorial area for people entering SL for the first time from the Titusville festival; as such, it may not appear to hold much of interest to the established SL user. However, I’d suggest having a little look around, as there are several points of interest to be found, including a teleport to Pixels’ own display area located high over the region. The music stream provided in the arrival area might also be of interest as well, given it is being driven by solar radiation levels being recorded by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter as it orbits the Moon!

Art and Algorithms Digital Arts Festival

Art and Algorithms Digital Arts Festival – Ub Yifu: The Tree People, “an absorbing immersive environment, which is at the same time a tribute to Nature and its many gifts, the mysterious duality of life, and the creative people who explore virtual worlds in search of their holy grail”

The first of the installations on display to capture my attention when visiting was Jo Ellsmere’s Biomechanical, picture at the top of this article. A homage to V. Meyerhold’s biomechanics system developed to help train actors, it was first seen as a part of the digital element of The Golden Age of the Russian Avant Garde, by Peter Greenaway (UK) and Saskia Boddeke (Holland) which I wrote about in May 2014, and makes a welcome return here. The piece features five avatars beautifully scripted to move through as series of synchronised actions, both as a single unit and as five unique elements within that unit, a slight syncopation to their movements giving them a time-lapsed grace.

Jo also shares the stage with Pyewacket Kazyanenko for Interstellar Princess, which they disarmingly refer to as simply, “a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all”! Featuring a small army of bots named for the phonetic alphabet, and a similar number of televisions (make sure you run media in the parcel), it’s a curious piece.

Art and Algorithms Digital Arts Festival

Art and Algorithms Digital Arts Festival – Lollito Larkham: Petit-Gris (Little Gray), the Plutoian who passes the days listlessly, moving about his home, reading about alleged “humans” and tale of the wonderful planet Earth, his mood swinging between hope and despair that he’ll ever be able to see it for himself

The origins of ALEA FUKUSHIMA apparently lie in a dream artist Artistide Despres had, in which he imagined a scientist-musician who was able to neutralize the radioactivity at the Fukushima nuclear power plant by transforming the energy into music. This is an interactive piece, musical instruments in the “reactor building” responding directly to avatars.

In another of the overhead domes, Feathers Boa offers visitors Painting in Three Dimensions,  retrospective of her work from the period of 2007-2010. All of the pieces here also respond to the presence of an avatar, changing as you approach them and then step away from them.

Art and Algorithms Digital Arts Festival

Art and Algorithms Digital Arts Festival – in A Comfortable Skin, Gracie Kendal continues her exploration of society’s obsession with appearance, identity, and acceptance, using both physical and virtual avatars. Don one of the paint-splattered skins she offers, jump into the images of physical world locations and similarly-attired “avatars” and take a picture of yourself. Are you comfortable in the skin you’re in?

Glyph Graves presents three pieces for the price of one: Ghost Flora, Breeze, and Forest of Water. The latter two pieces are presented in one of ground-level exhibition spaces, while Ghost Flora can be seen in the waters surrounding the central landing / tutorial area.

Together, these works make up an interesting exhibition, each of them showing various facets of artistic expression and the versatility available within virtual environments like Second Life for immersive art.

Related Links


LEA announce AIR 8 selection

LEA_square_logo_60On Tuesday, December 16th, 2014 the Linden Endowment for the Arts announced the successful applicants for the 8th round of the LEA’s Artist-in-Residence (AIR) programme.

They are: Solkide Auer, Art Blue, Giovanna Cerise, Asmita Duranjaya and Sable, Mario2 Helstein, Mistero Hifeng,  NaTaS Janus, Gracie Kendal, frankx lefavre,  FreeWee Ling, mediciprincess, Whiskey Monday, Haveit Neox, Lemonodo Oh, Krystali Rabeni, Searby, Sniper Siemens , Misprint Thursday, Lorin Tone and Mary Wickentower.

Qualia: The Sentience of Being - frankx lefavre, December 2014

Qualia: The Sentience of Being – Frankx Lefavre, December 2014

The LEA received over 40 applications, and those selected were viewed as presenting “truly outstanding proposals that represent a diverse range of virtual art.”

The successful applicants will each be allocated a full region within the LEA for a 6-month period. They have up to four months to prepare their projects, which range from full-sim immersions, to innovative builds geared specifically for multimedia works such as sound and machinima. Each installation must be open for a minimum of two months of the 6-month allocation, and it is expected that some will be open in advance of the four-month build deadline. All exhibits must be open to the public by the end of April 2015 at the latest.

Chaos, Kosmos - Giovanna Cerise, December 2014

Chaos, Kosmos – Giovanna Cerise, November 2014

All openings will be announced in the LEA blog.

Kosmic algorithms

Project Algorithm: "observabalh" by Nino Vichon

Project Algorithm: “Observatorim” by Nino Vichon

In November, I wrote about Giovanna Cerise’s latest full region installation, Chaos, Kosmos, currently open on LEA21 as a part of the 7th round of LEA artist In Residence grants.

the initial installation has been extended with three airborne platforms offering pieces by three artists Giovanna invited to participate in her work. Together, all three are referred to as “Project Algorithm”, and each appears to be designed to carry forward something of the original theme of Chaos. Kosmos – examining the relationship between two seemingly opposite elements which may actually be two sides of the same coin. In the case of the original piece, this involves examining the relationship between the ordered cosmos and its chaotic origins (which it still, despite its own order, also echoes).

The three new pieces on offer are reached via the spherical teleport at the Chaos, Kosmos landing point.  As they are all independent works, the order in which they are visited doesn’t appear to be important. As such, I’m tackling them here on the basis of height above ground – from the lowest to the highest.

Project Algorithm: "Live and Die" by Pol Jarhead

Project Algorithm: “Live and Die” by Pol Jarvinan

So the first piece is Live and Die, by Pol Jarvinan, which appears to examine the relationship between life and death; neither of which can exist without the other, and yet both are opposed to one another. The relationship is presented, to my eyes at least, on a number of levels.

The major part of the piece, when cammed around, can give an impression of a graveyard, the black and white shapes frequently forming crosses as the camera moves – the field of death. In the centre of this is a small region of colour – life. Yet even this colour exhibits something of an ebb and flow: the word LIVE is green / healthy; the word DIE is pale / sickly. between them lie a series of geometric shapes in a rusted hue; suggestive of ageing. Throughout the piece are black-and-white circles which, as the camera moves, can appear to be individual or overlapping, perhaps again symbolic of the relationship the exists between being and not being.

Project Algorithm: "observatorim" by Nino Vichon

Project Algorithm: “observatorim” by Nino Vichon

Nino Vichon opts to examine the algorithm – or relationship – between fantasy and prediction through his piece, Observatorium. Here, he sets out the view while appearing separate, fantasy and prediction are perhaps intertwined.  Neither requires linear steps in understanding, and both can be based upon creative or intuitive leaps of the imagination as much as anything else. As such, they are not mutually exclusive in application; rather they are complimentary.  He illustrates this through the examples of chemistry and its relationship with alchemy (from which it grew), and astronomy and its relationship with astrology (ditto).

The uppermost platform is home to Daco Monday’s Chaos, perhaps the most involved and perplexing of the three pieces. It is defined as “the Algorithm of history”, although quite how it should be interpreted is difficult to discern.

There is a quote within the piece, “la luce diurna e razionalista della storia moderna si va spegnendo il suo astro declina avanza il crepuscolo e ci avviciniamo alla notte” – which, I think is a reference to Novoe srednevekov’e (“The End of Our Time”, also known as “The New Middle Ages”) by the religious and political philosopher / Christian universalist Nikolai Berdyaev.

Project Algorithm: Chaos by Daco Monday

Project Algorithm: Chaos by Daco Monday

As I have no idea if I’m barking up the wrong philosophical tree here or not, I’m loathe to plumb this piece further in writing (although I’ve been mentally scratching my head over it during the course of the last 24 hours…). Therefore, should you wish yo know more, I can only suggest you go take a peek for yourself.

Project Algorithm will remain open, along with Chaos, Kosmos, until the end of December 2014.

Related Links

  • Chaos, Kosmos SLurl (Rated: General) – use the teleport sphere at the landing point to reach the platforms.

Qualia: looking through the eyes of Mary*

I’ve become something of a fan of Frankx Lefarve’s work over the last couple of years, and always look forward to his installations. They are invariably thought-provoking and beautiful in both design and execution.

This month, he is once more back at LEA18, the location for his last LEA piece, Insidious: the Spread of Ideas, which I reviewed here. Now, and open through until the end of the year, he brings us Qualia: The Sentience of Being, which takes as its basis Frank Jackson’s thought experiment, Mary’s Room.

Jackson, a philosopher best known for his primary focus of studying philosophy of mind, epistemology, metaphysics, and meta-ethics, offered Mary’s Room as a philosophical illustration of his argument against physicalism, the thesis that the universe is entirely “physical” in nature, consisting only of the kind of entities postulated by physics.

In Jackson’s experiment, Mary is a brilliant scientist forced to investigate the world from a black-and-white room. and via a black-and-white monitor. However, she is able to  acquire all the physical information she needs to understand the concepts of colour, and  the ability to comprehend the wavelength combinations from the sky which stimulate the eye and, in doing so, lead to the various nervous interactions which result in our uttering the phrase, “the sky is blue”, and so on. Thus, she has all the physical knowledge to understand the world beyond her monochromatic room, and to acknowledge the physical interactions that go on within it.  But is this really the sum total of the universe beyond her room, and in acquiring the physical knowledge, has she reached the fullest extent of her learning? Thus, Jackson asks:

What will happen when Mary is released from her black and white room or is given a colour television monitor? Will she learn anything or not? It seems just obvious that she will learn something about the world and our visual experience of it. But then is it inescapable that her previous knowledge was incomplete. But she had all the physical information. Ergo there is more to have than that, and Physicalism is false.

With Frankx’s piece, the visitor initially arrives in Mary’s room, beyond which lies a world of colour and movement, accessed by approaching one of four walls in the room, which will open automatically. Which wall you opt to open first is up to you; they are marked with various items: Buddha (which you face on arrival), clock, mosaic and lightning, but the order in which they are taken is not necessarily important. Be aware that the walls may be a tad slow in responding as you approach them.

Outside of each wall, set against the backdrop of the universe, are walkways, each of which leads to spaces, guarded by what might be called star gates through which you must pass to fully see see beyond them. In certain ways, these might be said to echo the discoveries Mary might have made following her exit from her observation space. Four example, in one, there are elements of red, perhaps signifying the ripening tomato Jackson mentions and, more subliminally in shape and colour, the heart, our engine of life; in others we see flashes of blues and yellows as we step into them, suggestive of the sky, and so on.

This is a deceptively complex piece, one slightly Bowman-esque in its leanings (Bowman as in, “My God, it’s full of stars!”) if handled correctly. The simplest route through the work is to travel back and forth from the black-and-white room, visiting each of the main segments in turn. However, there is another way, pointed-to in the introductory note card, and which I recommend.

There is a transparent path connecting each of the four main segments which leads one through the intervening geometric forms spaced in a circle between them. You may need to use CTRL-ALT-T at times to see the path (I recommend toggling on and off when needed; otherwise the red interferes with the installation). This will take you on an unfolding journey through the installation which may well lead to an entirely different perspective.

I have no idea if echoes of David Bowman’s journey through the star gate of 2001: A Space Odyssey is intentional or simply a case of my own projection onto the piece. However, it seemed to resonate with the overall theme of the work; that there is more to our universe than can be adequately explained by our understanding of the physical. Indeed, to go further, that our discovery of such other things – up to and including intelligences far superior to our own – might actually redefine our understanding of the “physical”,  just as in Jackson’s thought experiment, Mary’s experiences in the world of colour may have reshaped her perceptions.

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* With apologies to the Sutherland Brothers for the reworking of their lyric!