Thursday, March 11, 2010

Depth of Surface: A Review

Depth of Surface is an exhibition of the textile and texture based work of 16 artists currently on display at the SF State Fine Arts Gallery. Exceptionally varied in material and concept, the show was well crafted. As an artist who works increasingly with programming and digital media, I found it refreshing and pleasurable to examine these physical objects of such tactile presence. Textiles are a source of powerful metaphors: the threads of our lives, of meaning, of thought.

Rock Wall by Jennifer Ferre, a tapestry of cassette tape appealed to me because it is woven information. Music is certainly a fabric in my life, I wondered what songs were on the tape. An ex's mix? Cassette tapes are artifacts, this one was remixed.

Julie Chang's hanging scrolls of wall paper-esque prints were vivid and a little absurd. I had forgotten how nice it is to compose prints, juxtaposing graphics like plants and floor plans in saturated colors. As wall paper, it suggests that I think more about the images that make up our social and domestic environments.

Dustin Fosnot had made a cyanotype (a sun print) of his body on a discarded mattress. Mattress Reminded me how textiles are part of our lives, and of the imprints we leave on the city.
Katie Lewis's Intermittent Transmission was coded language: lines of tangled thread arranged like blocks of text on the wall. I thought, if it was text, would I read it? Would I feel it? The arrangement made me think of compressing language into writing by a codec other than letters.

Ali Naschke-Messing seemed to be working with the thread-as-language metaphor with The Art of Storytelling: Ode to Benjamin I appreciated the delicate, tangled, ephemeral feel of the words.

Ironing: Mulit-Terrain Pattern by Mung Lar Lam, as a wall-size fabric installation was a nice contrast of scale to the other pieces. It recalled color fields and some kind of saw-tooth topography. There's a whole genre of art that is showing the subtle beauty of the everyday like the patterned creases made by ironing.

Depth of Surface will be up until March 25th.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Gaze, the TV of Tomorrow and Augmented Reality

I installed Gaze last week for the TV of Tomorrow Show at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. As a work that views the viewer, juxtaposes intimacy and surveillance and evokes a specter of machine consciousness, I thought Gaze was fitting for the proceedings.

A conference for multi-platform interactive television, the TV of Tomorrow was mostly hyper corporate with talk titles like "Better Monetization through Better Counting: Measurement for Advanced TV and Video" and "Interactive TV Advertising: Who's Going to Click?" Art like my own was mostly there to legitimize that the conference was taking place in a center for the arts.

I did attend a handful of talks, the best being "Augmented Reality Meets TV." Clearly there is a bunch of innovative tech going on and a few advertising firms are applying it to web shopping applications, branding, and Facebook games.

Certainly the most interesting AR applications remain those for mobile phones. The ability to view mapping info (restaurant reviews, closest metro stops etc.) in the phone as augmented reality (AR) is exciting in the way that it creates new ways of presenting and interacting with information. AR mobile games and the idea of imbedding information in space via computer-vision recognizable printed graphics is the thing most desirable to me as artist.

The moderator was talking about AR as total immersion in a brand experience (which is a horrible way to frame it), but I think of it more as another increasingly fluid information exchange, more of a total immersion in information. This kind of interface allows for new forms and systems of user interface and interaction design, certainly a fun set of problems/possibilities.

In the faceless crowd of suits I met another artist, Keiichi Matsuda, a Masters of Architecture student at the University of London, who had been flown in for the event to show his brilliant video, which illustrates all the potential (lovely and hideous) of everyday use of AR.

Augmented (hyper)Reality: Domestic Robocop

He explained to me later that his architecture group explores architecture through film. We had a stimulating conversation about theory, art, etc. I'll certainly be thinking more about post scarcity anarchism, Me++: The Cyborg Self and the Networked City and the composition of signifiers through time and space in film.