Art Gallery Fact Sheet
19-24 July 1998
Orange County Convention Center
The SIGGRAPH 98 Art Gallery: Touchware was a milestone exhibition chronicling 25 years of computer art from early algorithmic drawings and paintings to modeled figures and "pebble drawings" by pioneering computer artists. Artistic insights revealed the simultaneity of touch as a sensory experience and the ephemeral experience of being in touch electronically via the Internet.
The 130 artworks included digital paintings, drawings, and photographs; sculpture; interactive installations; telepresence projects; ARTSITE Web-based projects; and work by some of the earliest pioneers of computer art.
"In Touchware, the electronic arts exhibition, creativity runs rampant with technology. Artists create new frameworks for artistic expression, subverting the technology into their palette. The imagination of the artist spawns a multiplicity of modes of artistic expression from computer imaging to interactive sculpture," said Joan Truckenbrod, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, SIGGRAPH 98 Art Gallery Chair. "Using computing technology, artists improvise form, inventing the electronic arts. The audience explores this new frontier of artmaking, engaging in a variety of electronic art. Touchware includes contemporary work of electronic artists paired with the work of pioneering artists in this field."
SIGGRAPH 98 initiated ARTSITE for Web-based artwork. The objective of this project was to stimulate creation of new forms of artistic expression that wrap around and extend beyond the Web. The site, featuring 12-15 works, is available remotely via the Internet. The projects presented illustrate innovative thinking about Web sites: artwork that absorbs and creatively utilizes the indigenous nature of the Web, its capabilities, and its artifacts.
Carnegie Mellon University
Items 1-2,000 is an interactive multimedia installation with a performative component. A live human specimen is half submerged in a block of wax in a manner reminiscent of the way biological specimens are fixed in a "microtome" (a machine that cuts specimens into thin slices). Bar codes affixed to a sheet of glass hanging several inches above the figure correspond to internal organ locations of the figure underneath. Participants interact with the coded form as anatomy students would a cadaver. A stainless steel bar code scanner is employed much like a scalpel, slicing horizontally across the figure to reveal the body's interior on video monitors in the installation space.
Florida State University
Participants use a computer interface in a grocery cart to interact with Litt'l havoc by physically pushing the cart around. Interacting with Litt'l havoc, participants symbolically become the artist, transgressing cheesy landscapes of abandoned and fragmented memory. Constructed of found, borrowed, abandoned, and confiscated components, Litt'l havoc is a pathetic new breed of hack/junk/found interactive art.
GK TECK Inc. and the International Media Research Foundation, Japan
BeWare is a "living" object by which observers can touch and feel the actual temperature of the Earth based on data transmitted from the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration's polar orbital satellite. BeWare is an attempt to expand means of expression using the Internet as well as to stimulate our perception of the living Earth.
Jennifer & Kevin McCoy
City College of New York
Small Appliances is a two-channel interactive digital video project that employs issues of domesticity to probe women's use and control of technologies such as the telephone. Viewers control the narrative flow of the video stories, visually moving from subjective to objective points of view by interacting with a kitchen sink filled with animated bubbles. Sculpturally, viewers look out from the vantage point of a 1940's environment to witness the present complex commingling of subjective experience with technological processes.
Stream of Consciousness
David Small & Tom White
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
The interactive poetic garden is literally a fountain of words and attempts to bring the computer into the garden in harmony with stone, water, and plant materials. The computer is used to drive a video projector, creating the illusion of text floating on the surface of water as it flows through the garden. A person sitting on the wooden bench facing the garden can stop the word flow, push and pull words, and over time change the content of the words themselves.
HGB Kunst Hochschule
This telepresence artwork creates a visual and audio dialogue between particpants in distant geographic locations. Two identical blue sofas are located in remote locations. In front of each sofa stands a video monitor and camera. The camera images are relayed between the sites via an ISDN line, chroma-keyed together, and displayed on monitors in front of each sofa simultaneously. Viewers in both locations sit down to watch television, to experience a live image of themselves sitting on a sofa next to a telepresent person. They start to explore the space and understand they are now in complete physical control of a telepresent person. In Telematic Vision, users create their own television program by becoming voyeurs of their own spectacle.
Artists garbed in their wearable sculptures were
"wandering minstrels" throughout SIGGRAPH 98, going beyond the Art Gallery to bring art to all conference attendees.
Firefly Dress and Necklace
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
The Firefly Dress uses unusual electronic materials to radically change the form and image of computational devices. The dress and necklace use conductive fabric, beads, and Velcro to distribute power throughout the dress. As the wearer moves, LED's attached to fuzzy conductive pads, (the electrical contacts) brush lightly against the conductive fabric layers, causing a dramatic lighting effect.
Maggie Orth, J.R. Smith, E.R. Post, J.A. Strickon, and E.B. Cooper
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
As an interactive instrument, the Musical Jacket allows players with very little musical experience to play not only different individual notes, but also to manipulate and control entire rhythmic turns. As a computational object, it demonstrates how familiar objects can be transformed through microprocessor technology and new electronic materials.
Catherine Courier and Taut Turnip
Notre Dame University
The computer is used to create seamless environments out of incongruous elements, including flatbed-scanned images of objects, appropriated photography, and three-dimensional imagery. Disparate elements are stitched together through a digital montage process to create a rich embroidered tapestry whose decorative qualities sometimes make subversive content more palatable.
No Man No Shadow
University of Northern Colorado
This image chronicles the experience of conquering distance as described by T.S. Elliott in "Little Gidding." "Either you had no purpose, or the purpose is beyond the end you figure and is altered in fulfillment." At the same time, what is seen in the surroundings brings an association to mind. Rhythmic patterns in nature remind us the a perfection of computer algorithms.
Pioneering Computer Artists
The works of 20 pioneering computer artists were shown at SIGGRAPH 98. All of these pioneering artists had the vision and insight early in the development of computer graphics that they could capture and subvert graphics technology to make a mark or create form that is emotive and captures the imagination.
Eudice Feder studied with Moholy Nagy in Chicago and transformed Bauhaus constructs into digital art. Feder found, embedded in the geometry of the earth, fire, sky and fire, her own vision that she expressed through the choreography of the robotic pens (in the pen plotter). She worked at the threshold of the Beaux-Art tradition and the new vision brought about through electronic technology. Feder is currently transforming her plotter drawings into paintings.
Ken Knowlton creates images with rich layers of meaning. Transforming the normal artist's palette, Knowlton's artwork uses unique elements to "paint" his figures. His early work with Leon Harmon (1966) used digital alphanumeric characters on the end of his brush to render three-dimensional figures. In his current work, Knowlton uses seashells as paint, to express thoughts and moods about people who have lived, struggled, and died, leaving their own imprints on our time, as seashells are remnants of creatures once alive. (Knowlton uses the computer to help determine the arrangement of shells based on the color, size, and value of each of the 816 seashells.)
Manfred Mohr works as a digital constructivist, developing algorithms that create visual invention. Since 1973, he has concentrated on the structure of the cube as his alphabet, disrupting the symmetry of this form to create new relationships in his drawings. Currently, Mohr brings these drawings off the wall into material constructions based on the same ideas.
In a unique way, Vera Molnar is a digital pointillist painter, creating landscapes by connecting lines to create a pattern from thousands of distinct, intermittent, and quantified points. The painter controls each of these points, making the surface infinitely malleable. Molnar's drawings have transformed from energy on the surface of the drawing into a journey through a three-dimensional landscape.
Joan Truckenbrod uses the computer as a lens to see into the hidden dimensions of the natural world. Algorithmically, she injects these invisible behaviors from the natural world into her imagery as a metaphor for the psychological resonance between people. This is not possible with any other media. Truckenbrod's digital artwork includes algorithmic drawings from the mid-1970's, digital photography, and, currently, interactive installations, chronicling the history of computer graphics technology.