Vintage PHSCologram Sculpture
(art)n Laboratory is a collaborative art group and media lab based in Chicago since it's inception in 1983. (art)n is comprised of its Director and founder, artist Ellen Sandor, and a dedicated core group of visual and computer artists. (art)n Laboratory possesses a vital and extensive portfolio thanks to both the talent and sophistication of its members as well as that of the artists, scientists, mathematicians of note with whom it has collaborated.i These collaborations have spawned a body of artwork which is both invaluable for its pioneering aesthetic as well as the historical importance of the scientific concerns and discoveries first portrayed by (art)n and research teams working together.
The work presented by (art)n to SIGGRAPH 2000 is entitled Townhouse Revisited, 1999. This PHSCologramii and interactive audio sculpture, addresses issues of the body, public space, and touch in the architecture of virtual reality. The work was created in response to such questions as: If hard matter and gravity offer no impediment in Virtual Reality, what then will meeting/working/playing spaces look like in there? How might form, substance and light evolve as we navigate through virtual structures? Would the body's passage behind a monitor's glass raise any layered echoes of sound? How would sound behave in a virtual space with no true surfaces to bounce off of - only image planes? Would sound bouncing off image planes be effected spatially by the digital code that makes up the structure of the image?
Along with the townhouse piece, the (art)n group has continued to manifest its concerns with issues of the body in technology. (art)n Laboratory has produced an extensive series of virus visualizations - viruses both beautiful and deadly - that afflict our population. Among these are the HIV, Polio, Herpes, and Papilloma viruses as well as the Rhinovirus and Adenovirus. Installations of this work have addressed both the viruses and related social viruses such as homophobia and other infectious paranoia. Also, (art)n is currently involved in collaborations with genetic researchers for the creation of pieces on Telomeres, a part of DNA, and the extension of the human life span. The main question involved is whether age is a natural disease that can/or should be 'cured.'
Selected works from (art)n's portfolio have been shown in international museums, galleries and symposia. (art)n's work is in the permanent collections of the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, the International Center of Photography NYC, The Smithsonian Institution, The US Art in Embassies Program and various private collections. Group and solo shows include The New Museum of Contemporary Art NYC, The George Eastman International House of Photography, The Wexner Center for the Arts, The Art Institute of Chicago, Computer Museum Boston, MusČe d'Art Contemporian de MontrČal, Galerie Darthea Speyer Paris, Maya Polsky Gallery, Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Feature Gallery, Art Chicago Navy Pier, Triennale di Milano, Art Futura, and SIGGRAPH.
Over the past 16 years, the (art)n Laboratory group has collaborated to make images with members of the most advanced science and computer labs in the country such as the NASA Lewis Research Center, the National Institutes of Health, IBM, and The Scripps Research Institute. It has also collaborated with established artists such as Ed Paschke, Christopher Landreth, Chuck Csuri, Dan Sandin, Donna Cox, Karl Wirsum, and Miroslaw Rogala.
The (art)n Laboratory is unusual amongst artist's groups in that it holds landmark patents in 20th century visual technology. In 1989, after six years of research and development, the group patented what is called the PHSCologram(tm) (pronounced skol-o-gram) - the very first virtual photographic hard copy process. 'PHSCologram' is a word coined by the group in 1983. It contains the acronym 'PHSC' for photography, holography, sculpture and computer imaging. In practice, it includes a process of digitally combining color images with computer generated models and outputting these composites as 3-D image hardcopies. (art)n Laboratory also invented the Igram which has become known as 'the hard copy of virtual reality.' The Igram is a snapshot or still (similar to a film still) taken in virtual reality environments. But more than that, it involves sophisticated set of software and hardware developed by both (art)n Laboratory and EVL (Electronic Visualization Laboratory) at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
In inventing and patenting the first 3-D digital output technology, the (art)n group has been able to push the conceptual and aesthetic boundries of its own unique medium: the PHSCologram. The medium is arresting in its unconventionality. In an exhibition space, the back lit and fully dimensional images extend from darkly framed image planes towards the viewer. The images are lush, detailed, and visceral in effect. The group has successfully experimented with large sculptural and even kinetic installations of their pieces.
Townhouse Revisited, a PHSCologram and interactive audio sculpture, addresses issues of body, public space, and touch in the architecture of virtual reality. If hard matter and gravity offer no impediment in Virtual Reality, what then will meeting/working/playing spaces look like in there? How might form, substance and light evolve as we navigate through virtual structures? Would one's passage behind a monitor's glass raise sound like the layered echoings of footfalls?