Project Proposal

PROJECTIONS_INTO_THE_UNKNOWN_       06.01.2018 / version 3

 

Interactive play with digital projections and found moving objects, a narrative experimentation by interaction of the artist, digital technology and participants

 

Aims

My first aim is to create a set of installations, based on visual transformations of found objects in movement, to express and question the materiality of moving objects and its change when digitally converted and represented. The resulting images will be projected with, next or onto the objects, so viewers might experience a new mixed reality when fusion or collision of the different domains takes place.

My second aim is to expand on the narrative potential of interactivity and integrate this as part of the installations in order to further engage with the spectators. My intention is on the one hand to realise an installation set with its own visual vocabulary and on the other hand that spectators become conscious participants and make their own meaning with the installations.

 

Objectives

> Gain insight in the moving (found) object, its materiality and its digital representation

> Explore ideas of scanning objects, experiment with moving objects in physical and digital domains

> Develop narrative ideas with light projected objects by means of motion, sound, voices, touch and vision

> Experiment with the potential of projection in spatial settings, considering objects and images, still and moving images, and get a thorough understanding of the mixed reality

> Learn from human-computer interactions as used in game design, develop my technical skills with Arduino, Processing, Internet of Things and other interactive related hard- and software

> Expand my knowledge of interactivity in theoretical sense and doing practical tests, observe behaviour in interactive experiences and do interviews with spectators about engagement and experience

> Create with found objects an interactive installation which invites spectators to become interacting participants

 

Historical context

The historical art I am inspired by comes from ready-mades and installations of Duchamp and Man Ray to working with found objects like Kurt Schwitters and Mario Merz, making assemblages as Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns did, and working with kinetics like Jean Tinguely and installations from Wolf Vostell. Even more I am fascinated by the iconic video art of Nam Jun Paik, Bill Viola and early interactive work of Gary Hill. There are many relevant art historic examples to be found by further delving in the fields of kinetic arts, installation arts, video arts, light arts and the relatively young interactive arts.

Contemporary context

I distinguish light spaces of different kinds. The spatial experience of being in an ‘(en)lighted’ room can be disorienting, anxious, meditative, magical, esthetical or sublime, even all at the same time. Important artists who work with these phenomena are Anthony McCall with his horizontal and vertical light sculptures [1] and Olafur Eliasson [2].

Here I particularly would like to address part of the work of Kurt Hentschläger, namely his immersive installations. His works “have characteristically been visceral and immersive, as in ZEE and FEED, with extreme perceptual effects, composed from light, sound and fog. These works physiologically affect the viewer’s experience” [3].

The spatial component and its effect on all our senses is key in these immersive works. The art work can only be properly valued when you were there. An interesting aspect about the documentation (i.e. the internet presentation) of such a work is that, together with some photographs and a part of the atmospheric sound track, it can merely be represented by testimonials of people who experienced the work there and then. A case of loss of aura too.

This analogue sensory question ‘what is the real thing to be appreciated’ can hardly be transferred by internet means and derives from one of the apparent distribution problems of (video) installations. It emphasizes on the other hand the utmost importance of the spatial now and here of the artwork [5].

I often differentiate video or digital projections from light projections by – what I prefer to call – the articulated light. These video light sources have a more intrinsic narrative characteristic or capability, which I am attracted to. This may be a result from my storytelling background as filmmaker. The articulated light projections from Tony Oursler are a speaking example of original digital mapping on physical objects [6]. As installation and media artist he often creates highly ambiguous situations and characters from familiar parts in itself. Here it is much more about the augmented projections than the immersive.

The artist Sophie Ernst wrote an interesting PhD-thesis in 2016 about ‘The Magic of Projection: Augmentation and Immersion in Media Art’ in which she deconstructs the differences based on her own practice [7]. She argues that “Augmenting projections are persuasive, not because they are materially ‘real’, rather because they make visible what we could imagine as real.” [7; page 150]. And she concludes that “the works all are propositions, possibilities projected into space. The created situations are experimental designs testing questions such as: … What if we could re-enter imagined spaces? What is real, what is projected? How can an object of the imagination be real?” [7; page 167]. These questions are essential for my practice-based research as well.

Inspiring South-African artist William Kentridge combined the real with the projected in the installation ‘The Refusal of Time’ seen at Documenta 13 [8]. His hand-drawn animations are integrated with staged processions and playful acts of the artist himself and as such projected with five beamers on wooden boards as panoramic landscape. The music and sounds come through typical conical horns and together with a so-called breathing machine, it makes the experience both empathic and close-by as well as magical. I perceive this work as an example of a philosophical installation as it comes with many layers and metaphysical elements.

Another memorable philosophical installation or object – considered by its size – from Kentridge is his small sized theatre work ‘The Black Box’ in which moving metal objects representing human figures and video animations together incorporate a convincing historic possibility [9].

Talking about the interactivity in video projections, one considers the relationship between the artwork and the audience as the latter is also influencing, participating or making the piece of art. Often seen are works in which people moving their arms and bodies in front of sensory devices to make the imagery. Respectfully I find this technology driven interactivity works not the most interesting. More fascinating to me are the subtle forms of engagement where it is not so clear to the present viewer, who is looking at and trying to grasp what the artwork is about, that he or she is also – partly –  in the role of the maker.

Olafur Eliasson made the interactive work Notion-Motion where people could step on the boards of a landing stage and thereby influenced the making of the projected waves. The additional artist book was titled ‘your engagement has consequences’ [10]. The behavioural nature of an interactive work of art makes it profoundly interesting to me.

Tony Oursler – multi media installations

Olafur Eliasson – elementary installations (light, water, air, mirrors)

William Kentridge – animated film installations

Amy Jenkins – projection on miniature objects

Tim Noble & Sue Webster – recycled shadow sculptures

Artie Vierkant – Immaterial versus Material

Maurice Benayoun – Interactive installations artist and theorist 

David Rokeby – Interactive installation artist

Theoretical context

My experimentations are practically fed with intriguing points of view from philosophy, critical theory and art theory. I cherry pick amongst others from:

  • Martin Heidegger – Phenomenology, let things be
  • Merleau-Ponty – Being-in-situation, memories and perceptions
  • Hans-Georg Gadamer – Phenomenology, Q&A, meaning, horizons
  • Henri Bergson – Time and duration, movement as continuum, always change in matter
  • Gilles DeLeuze – Texturology, surface, space that lost its homogeneity, affects, concepts, percepts
  • Ernest Edmonds, Brigid Costello – Interaction, art and technology
  • Katie Salen, Eric Zimmerman – Game play and interactivity
  • Katja Kwastek – Art-historical perspectives on interactive media art

 

Methodology

methods and procedures

As practitioner-researcher I will adopt several methods to gain further creative insights:

  • Research by reading and writing
  • Research by getting to know the practice of artists relevant to my subject(s)
  • Research by experimenting, i.e.
    • Practice based work with projections and objects
    • Experimental object and screen surface making
    • Experiments with new materials, scale and interactions
  • Testing of interactive techniques
    • Hardware adaptations
    • Software adaptations
  • Observing viewer and co-maker behaviour
    • In an interactive test installation

and:

  • Making video recordings of processes and results
  • Making photographs and according notes
  • Reflection in action
  • Keeping hold of reflective journal
  • Peer group reviews and tutorials

leading to:

  • Converging towards my main subject
  • Building one or more installations and using this as a test environment
  • Inviting spectators, both peers as well as general audience
  • Interviewing them after they experienced the work
  • Conclusions and realizing the final art work

 

Outcome

final presentation

A set of interactive (video)light installations, partly build and changed by spectators/co-makers, made from found objects and digitally transformed images that originate from these objects. The installation should be playful and the visual outcome may each time be partial uncertain, while the co-makers adapt and get to learn the behaviour of the installation.

 

Work plan

Phase 1. October – December 2017

  • Research about materiality, surfaces, immateriality, flatbed scanning, virtual domain
  • Experimentations with scanning of materials
  • Experimentations with first projections
  • Development of working scheme
  • Realising works: thank you for dancing with me in between, x-swings (interactive swings)
  • Experimentations with Processing, phidget & webcam as sensors

Phase 2. January – March 2018

  • Research about Art as Experience, Interactivity, Game Play, Happenings, Performances
  • Experimentations with Arduino and sensors
  • Experimentations with projections
  • Low-residency in London
  • Development of visual concept about interactions
  • Making an interactive set of moving objects
  • Presentation of the project for the mid-term review

Phase 3. May – July 2018

  • Research about interaction, behaviour and psychology
  • Research about Internet of Things and human-computer interactions
  • Experimentations with digital projections
  • Building interactive test environment and doing tests and interviews
  • Writing research paper

Phase 4. October – December 2018

  • Finalising research paper
  • Development of ‘digital interactions in the field’
  • Visual summary of work done
  • Further experimentations

Phase 5. January – March 2019

  • Testing and deciding on the final works
  • Writing about the relevant theory within the practice
  • Final experimentations with user experiences

Phase 6. May – July 2019

  • Realising final works
  • Presenting them on and off-site
  • Evaluating the outcome and presenting conclusions

 

Bibliography

Click here for the actual reading list sources

 

Notes

[1] http://www.anthonymccall.com/pg1.html

[2] http://www.olafureliasson.net and http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/exhibition/unilever-series-olafur-eliasson-weather-project/olafur-eliasson-weather-project

[3] text from the website http://kurthentschlager.com/bio.html

[4] http://kurthentschlager.com/portfolio/zee/zee.html

[5] As a sideline remark, that is why my website ROBINxyz.com has the three dimensions in its name, and ROBIN being the time-based component which I accept to be Δt (1964-  ). Therefor one could argue that a human as well as any object like an installation might be characterized by a certain volume times its time being there, thus V•Δt

[6] http://tonyoursler.com

[7] https://www.phdarts.eu/DoctoralStudents/SophieErnst

[8] http://d13.documenta.de/#/research/research/view/the-refusal-of-time-2012

[9] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w6COnGRIFsw

[10] http://olafureliasson.net/archive/exhibition/EXH101144/notion-motion

 

Earlier versions of my project proposal are to be found here