Sunday, December 11, 2011

Breaking Barriers: "Transformation: Virtual Art on the Brink" Wins Awards & Other UWA News


Several people have asked me for the written transcript of the voice over, and at last I've edited the script I wrote so it matches what ended up in the film:

It is not surprising that much of the virtual world is modeled on what we know--physical spaces like art museums, or that art in it draws on what's come before--each new medium does that. but the best virtual art is a new kind of new media, using the particular properties of the virtual world to make metaphors manifest.

The avatar, the visual representation of the spectator, separates or connects our point of view to the avatar's position with the mobile camera, the virtual kino-eye.

When the avatar approaches Misprint Thursday's video art and music installation "Digital Glove," we only see and hear when we enter the space and turn on the media stream. This is kind of like augmented reality.

Virtual art has to stand on its own, as this piece does, but it also gives us a glimpse of augmented reality, not either virtual or physical, but layers of visual, kinetic, and haptic, interfaces overlayed on the actual world. The physical world becomes part of the interface, or vice versa, recasting the material world as another level of data to be combined with what can be seen only with some kind of device.

"The matter of ideas" by Gleman Jun uses a script to put the visitor's name in the piece, as if you were the person on the bench. It reminds us that matter in a virtual world is data. The ideas which can be realized, the metaphors manifested, are manipulated in a different way than when gravity, scarcity, and other physical limitations are involved. When we use an avatar, we position ourselves both in front of and within the virtual art, and toggle between them literally and metaphorically. Seeing the person with your name on it generate an image of itself, calls our attention to the work of art in the age of virtual reproduction.

In "Here Comes the Sun," Sledge Roffo makes a piece the spectator can not only see, but change, choosing colors, setting off sunbursts, triggering sounds. It raises the questions of whether pieces like this are interactive or reactive, and maybe that depends on whether you experience it from in front of or within it. When we play the piece, we perform it, and enter into a new relationship to the artwork, and the environment in which we experience it, as a performer.

My piece, “One and Four Timeboards” takes an imaginary prop from a film I shot in Second Life and installs it like Joseph Kosuth’s 1965 piece One and Three Chairs: the object itself, a photograph of the object where it is installed, and a definition of the word. But this is a virtual piece, so it is clickable, and yields, to the user, an unknown and unpredictable result: being teleported to a sphere above the gallery which mimics the timetravel sequences in the movie. It is meant as a moment of disruption, of instability in one’s perceptual field, and to suggest that in virtual art, there is a fourth aspect of meaning to consider: transformation.

I could click on it because nothing's gonna happen--WAIT! What? No!

Ohh, no and spinning, where is this? So familiar . . . it can't be . . . this is the time lab, but that's not a real place, it's the set I built for making machinima. and those are the other time boards, those are my avatars, my characters! OHHHHHHH!

Misprint Thursday's "Digital Glove"

One of the installations featured in the film, Misprint Thursday's "Digital Glove," took the top prize in the entire Year-long UWA 3D Open Art Challenge. Misprint is one of the artists in the exhibition I'm currently curating at LEA4, InterACT! (and she shared 5th prize with another InterACT! artist Glyph Graves), and her work is continually connecting video, music, 3D virtual art, computer mediated communication, and traditional art technique. I'm delighted "Digital Glove" was recognized because the piece is works so well on many levels--as an installation, as a video installation, as multimedia combining virtual installation, an original song with lyrics and music that make connections to the virtual and digital medium in which they were created and in which they are experienced, as a piece that uses the specific affordances and properties of the virtual world. When I was editing the footage I filmed of "Digital Glove" for "Transformation," I loved being with the piece so much that I cut a video for the entire song, and here it is:

Iono Allen's "Virtual Love" Also Wins a Machinima Prize at UWA

Virtual love also won one of the top prizes. This is an inspired film about an artwork, because of the way it both shows it and also transforms it, making a film that enters into dialogue--or dance--with the piece, rather than only documenting it. It is in that way an original piece of film art, standing (or dancing, or plunging) on its own.