Project proposal – earlier versions

PROJECTIONS_INTO_THE_UNKNOWN_       27.10.2017 / version 2

 

Interactive fusion of digital projection and found objects, a narrative expression of artist and co-makers in a hybrid-media era

 

Aims

My first aim is to create a set of video 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 moving and still images will be projected with, next or onto the objects, so viewers can experience a new mixed reality when fusion or collision of the different domains takes place.

The notion of augmentation and immersion in film and arts as well as the immaterial and material objects in regard to post-digital culture are interesting topics I intend to expand on in this practice-based research.

My second aim is to understand the narrative potential of interactivity and integrate this as part of the installations in order to engage the spectators even more. My intension is on the one hand to realise an installation set with its own visual vocabulary and on the other hand that spectators become also co-makers and hopefully make their own meaning with the installation.

 

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

> Study relevant art historic and contemporary examples: delving in kinetic art, conceptual art, installation art, video art, interactive and participatory art

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

> Expand my knowledge of interactivity in theoretical sense and doing practical tests and interviews with spectators about engagement

> Create with found objects an interactive installation which invites spectators to become co-makers

 

Work in progress {

Historical context

Considering my video installation arts, the historical art context 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, while also being fascinated by the iconic video art of Nam Jun Paik, Bill Viola and Gary Hill.

See also my context description of the first project proposal underneath.

Contemporary context

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

Theoretical context

  • Martin Heidegger – Phenomenology, let things be
  • Hans-Georg Gadamer – Phenomenology, Q&A, meaning, horizons
  • Henri Bergson – Time and duration, movement as continuum, always change in matter
  • Gilles DeLeuze – Texturology, surface, folds, space that lost its homogeneity

Methodology

methods and procedures

 

Outcome

final presentation

 

Work plan

schedule

 

Bibliography

sources

}

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PROJECTIONS_INTO_THE_UNKNOWN_       28.09.2017 / version 1

My research questions are still three folded at the moment. They concern issues about mixed reality projections, focusing on the potential of the material aspects of in particular video projections.

I also will try to explore concept transformations into philosophical objects, when and why it becomes one, and whether performing transformations between artistic domains can result in a useful tool for artists.

Besides the material aspects and the transformative content aspects, I would like to focus on the reception of the artwork itself. How can video installations as time and spatial objects be experienced and how does this relate to the participating role of the viewer, spectator, interactor, co-maker in (interactive) digital installations?

Research Questions

  1. Projections as mixed reality

What explorations of material and spatial aspects of digital/video projections can help me to improve my specialism in digital projection as layering space to create ambiguous time space narratives.

What are interesting object projections as mixed reality? What types of surfaces, shapes, screens work and why? What kind of projected digital images work – thinking about characteristic qualities like contrast, scale, and so forth – and why? How does the combination of material and time based projection influence its context?

  1. Investigations about transformations of time and being

Can I find an artist strategy how to make transformations from a philosophical point of view to new artistic forms as in digital installations?

Is there a way to make ‘philosophical objects’? The essence of language based versus object based works plays an important role in this area. Our experience of time is a changing internal movement. We seem to have patterns which reflect how we communicate with ourselves and each other. Language is time based but is our awareness of space? How can this help with our understanding of creative transformations? In what way can creative transformations be a new tool for the artist?

  1. Spectator involvement in time based arts

What is the interactive potential of video installations through which social engagement is encouraged? In what ways will the art work change the role of the spectator?

I wish to engage the public with my low-tech interactive works and let them raise questions for meaning or significance. How can interactivity improve the potential of the work? What level of interactivity is preferred, when distinguishing unconscious and conscious levels, high- and low-tech forms, social forms?

How do we behave when an artwork is radiating its merits? What about the reception-aesthetics of interactive installations? Will the attention span of the viewer be longer when interactivity is at play? Does interactivity of some sort address the paradox of spectators who have to invest time in a time based work to gain something about experiencing time? Will interactivity lead to more understanding of the artwork?

 

Context

When thinking about projections I want to research, firstly 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 with for instance ‘The Weather Project’ representing a giant sun and misty skies in the Turbine Hall of Tate Modern in 2003 [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.

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 do we choose to remember and how? …   … 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]. Especially the latter two issues are relevant to my research questions.

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].

The question arises what can be understood as a philosophical object or installation? It may be that in the artist practice, while doing and thinking, in the dynamic process of working with materials and concepts a certain phenomenon imposes itself. When this is pursued by researching a certain knowledge and the creative work is accordingly developed or somewhat steered by, one might define it as a philosophical object. Another side might be that a philosophical topic was at the starting point of an artistic approach leading to the artwork at hand. The third possibility I imagine is to consider a creative transformation between different domains, i.e. between the language based (philosophy) and the visual based (object). Possible results might be generated by the use of some kind of analogy or the use of metaphors.

In ‘Visualizing Research’ by Carole Gray and Julian Malins [10] there is the interesting note that “inevitably when an idea is translated from one medium to another it loses some meaning and power” [10, page 95] … but it often gives new insights as well, I may add. As scientific transformations are rigorous and unambiguous, artistic transformations can be more playful and may lead to more thought provoking ambiguous results. A further research in the direction of using creative transformations as an artist tool is foreseen to focus and sharpen my concerning research questions adequately.

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 (social) forms of interactivity 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. An older work like “Tall Ships” by Gary Hill is a fine example in which electronic switches are used to trigger the according footage [11]. Or like the work of Olafur Eliasson called 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 is titled ‘your engagement has consequences’ [12]. Further research is thus required.

 

Methodology

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

  • Research by reading and writing
  • Research by getting to know practice of artists relevant to my subject(s)
  • Case studies
  • Research by experimenting, i.e.
  • Practice based work with projections and objects
  • Experimental object and screen surface making
  • Experiments with new materials and scale
  • Transformative improvisations with metaphors and analogies
  • Exploring different roles of viewer behaviour
  • Testing of interactive formats

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

 

Resources

As professional artist I do have all foreseen resources within reach. A small studio with camera’s and other equipment is available as well as an appropriate production budget. When a bigger installation comes to mind I may have to find / rent temporarily a bigger space. I can make visits to galleries, museums, academies and artists studio’s if necessary. I have two commissioned works to be realised in December 2017, which might also serve as study material for my research.

 

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] Gray, C. and Malins, J. (2004) Visualizing Research, A Guide to the Research Process in Art and Design, www.Ashgate.com

[11] http://garyhill.com/work/mixed_media_installation/tall-ships.html

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