Leonardo, Volume 32, Issue 5

October 1999

Contents

  • Digital Salon Chair's Statement Digital Art: A Glass Bead Game?
  • Life and Death in the Digital World of the Plaintext Players
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    This essay analyzes the age-old struggle of Life and Death as it plays out in the new digital medi um. It begins with a consideration of the dramati zations of an on-line improvisational group known as the Plaintext Players. Life and Death are discussed as contestants in a great morality play; as psychological driving force in the performances; as formal textual realm; and as thematic setting. The article goes on to discuss the complex negotiations of subject and object in the intricate interactions of dialogue, action, and spoofing in MOO performances. Finally the author considers “Real Life as Afterlife,” as one of the Players' performances is transposed onto the real-life stage.

  • Into the Belly of the Image: Historical Aspects of Virtual Reality
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    Virtual reality (VR) is a constant phenomenon in art history that can be traced back to antiquity. It can involve an area of ritual action, a private, artificial paradise, or a public sphere with politically suggestive power—in short, it encompasses a visual history that is characterized by totality. The concept of transposing viewers into an enclosed, illusionary visual space has been revived and expanded in the VR art of the current age. The more intimate ly an interface nestles into viewers' senses, the more intense their immersion will be. Such an interface weakens the viewers' sense of psychological distance and puts the relationship between art and consciousness into question.

  • The Growing Brain, The Shrinking Ego: Self and Identity Redefined in the New Media Age
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    In this article, the author discusses her virtual reality installation The Parallel Dimension and goes on to explore the loss of identity experienced when a viewer is confronted with VR. She suggests that the dislocations caused by this experience may require us to formulate a more fluid and multivalent concept of the self.

  • From the Back of the Eyelids: Public and Private Space in an Interactive Installation
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    The author describes how her recent installation work combines video, velvet, and interactivity into an opportunity for intimate navigation over the skin of a composite body. She discusses how the installation engages the senses using touchscreens, virtual projectors, and the human form to contrast private space with public space.

  • The Corporeal Stenographer: Language, Gesture, and Cyberspace
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    The author describes her research and creative practice exploring the intersection between digital, biomedical, and linguistic modes of bodi ly representation. She synthesizes traditional forms of painting with new computer and medical imaging technologies to call into question the relationship between visible and invisible bodily forms and actions. Her paintings and installations use scientifically rendered images of the body (from symbolic DNA sequences to developing cel lular structures) in order to consider the role of the tools and technologies used to organize and view these images. The issue of visual, linguistic, and scientific literacy is thus a corollary concern.

  • The Dichromaccord: Reinventing the Elusive Color Organ
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    The author describes principles for a kinetic chro matic art form and illustrates examples of the medium as realized with the Dichromaccord, a color organ he created. The chromatic approach, extrapolated from the color studies of Josef Albers, uses the interaction between projected color and the afterimage of preceding colors as the source of motivating tension in color sequences and cadences.

  • Synesthetic Art— An Imaginary Number?
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    Works that fuse the senses are often referred to as “synesthetic art.” Computers, which offer the possibility of controlling and synchronizing different media and implementing highly abstract compositional structures across media, seem an ideal tool for synesthetic art. This essay argues that a structural approach to such an art form is inadequate, and that it must be grounded in its potential symbolic functions. Starting from a brief examination of synesthesia as a neurological phenomenon and a sketch of the origins and influence of Baudelaire's poetics of synesthesia, this essay suggests points of departure for a poetics of multisensory composition.

  • Active Vision: Controlling Sound with Eye Movements
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    In this article, the author discusses the inspiration, concept, and technology behind her sound performance work using eye movements in relationship to current research on human eye movement. She also compares the playing of the eye-tracking instrument to research on musical improvisation using unconventional musical instruments and “active music.”

  • Exhibiting Artists
  • Gallery Artworks
  • Computer Animations
  • Net Works
  • Prima Materia, 1999
  • The CyberRosary, 1999
  • The Kiss, 1999
  • sand:stone, 1999
  • Jury
  • Leonardo/ISAST News

Digital Salon Essays

  • Hypermedia, Eternal Life, and the Impermanence Agent
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    We look to media as memory, and a place to memorialize, when we have lost. Hypermedia pioneers such as Ted Nelson and Vannevar Bush envisioned the ultimate media within the ultimate archive—with each element in continual flux, and with constant new addition. Dynamism without loss. Instead we have the Web, where “Not Found” is a daily message. Projects such as the Internet Archive and Afterlife dream of fixing this uncomfortable impermanence. Marketeers promise that agents (indentured information servants that may be the humans of About.com or the software of “Ask Jeeves”) will make the Web comfortable through filtering—hiding the impermanence and overwhelming profluence that the Web's dynamism produces. The Impermanence Agent—a programmatic, esthetic, and critical project created by the author, Brion Moss, a.c. chapman, and Duane Whitehurst— operates differently. It begins as a storytelling agent, telling stories of impermanence, stories of preservation, memorial stories. It monitors each user's Web browsing, and starts customizing its storytelling by weaving in images and texts that the user has pulled from the Web. In time, the original stories are lost. New stories, collaboratively created, have taken their place.

Special Section: Synesthesia

Digital Salong Catalog

Artists' Statements