Thursday, January 28, 2010


a month or so ago i mentioned apple's anticipated computer tablet format. well folks, they just announced it: The iPad

coming in 16, 32 and 64GB, its basically just an oversized ipod touch. honestly, i was expecting it to be a bit more like a tablet computer, but as mentioned previously, its main competition asnd purpose seems to be the Kindle as well as providing a portable screen format for the printed(ing) press to move to.

you can get yours now, but ill wait until summer when they come out with the 128GB and these models are a little more obsolete....aka cheaper.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Camille Utterback and Digital Interactivity

The Myers School of Art really has a great program. Had the chance to attend a (few) lecture(s) from Camille Utterback at school today dealing with her work, her work process, etc. Utterback has been working with (and dare i say pioneering?) digital interactive media since the late 90's. Her work deals with translating movement in visual imagery. One of her more recent works, Abundance, was commissioned as a temporary installation for the city of San Jose by ZER01, for their 01SJ Biennale. i thought that her work looked familiar, and indeed it did; part of the show toured the country as Superlight, one stop being at MoCA Cleveland. And (surprise) the School of Art was able to get the curator to give us a lecture in conjunction with the show.

At any rate, Utterback's work, as i said, translates movement into visual imagery and in turn creates a social interaction between people collaborating together within the visual space to experiment, explore and figure out the way a piece works. Most of her work resembles Abstract Expressionist paintings (in scale of the projection, abstractness of line and the expressive quality of movement), but her most recent piece i find the most interesting. Aurora Organ, was commissioned for the an atrium in the mall at the City of St. Louis Park. (Fuck You, Aurora!!....sorry, i've been on an alkaline trio kick.) The piece translates touching hot spots on the atrium railing into color patterns on corresponding tubes hanging over the stairwell int he atrium. definitely an interesting step from Utterback's 2D projection approach up until now.

Camille Utterback, untitled interactive sculpture, The West End from Steve Dietz on Vimeo.

While her work is interesting, however, there is another approach to this digital synesthesia (synesthesia being a neurological disorder characterized by the mixing and confusing of senses, see Dr. Cytowic's The Man Who Tasted Shapes) that i find more interesting. Utterback's work translates visual movement into visual imagery, but taking a more far-reaching approach was (is) David Rokeby's Very Nervous System all the way back in '88, that translated body movement into song and sound

this is by far one of my favorite interactive pieces to date. that may have something to do with my involvement in music long before the visual arts...

On another (last) note, while Utterback's work deals with social interaction, there are also interactive artists who deal with programming and installation that elicit an emotional response. mostly what comes to mind is fellow ZER01 commissionee Bruce Charlesworth's Love Disorder, which i had the pleasure of seeing at MoCA's Superlight exhibit.

LOVE DISORDER documentation 2009 from Bruce Charlesworth on Vimeo.


The Thing that i find most interesting about this piece and similar pieces is the fact that at its base, this is all programming. its a computer generated response to your presence, and yet it elicits and fills you (and is filled itself) with emotion. The computer reads your movement, proximity, etc, nothing more, and yet it moves you to feel something. This is an interesting idea, and one that is only beginning to be explored. im very excited to see the future of digital and interactive media within the realm of art, as its just beginning to peak and really get exciting.