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Synesthetics II: Immersive Experiences

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Slideshow used in a talk on the topic 'Immersive Experiences' given on 19th Feb 2009 within the context of the course Synesthetics II, lectured by Frans Evers and part of the Interfaculty ArtScience …

Slideshow used in a talk on the topic 'Immersive Experiences' given on 19th Feb 2009 within the context of the course Synesthetics II, lectured by Frans Evers and part of the Interfaculty ArtScience study program at the Royal Academy of Art in Den Haag (Netherlands).

Based on a personal approach to the topic rather than intending to be comprehensive, it is focused in a few general ideas illustrated with a selection of contemporary artworks regarded as remarkable examples.

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  • 1. SYNESTHETICS II :: Interfaculty ArtScience :: ((( IMMERSIVE ))) EXPERIENCES a survey including works by: JANET CARDIFF - BERNHARD LEITNER - POOK/CLAUSS - SHIBUYA/IKEGAMI - ERWIN REDL - ANN VERONICA JANSSENS - YOUNG/ZAZEELA EDWIN VAN DER HEIDE - GRANULAR SYNTHESIS (HENTSCHLAGER/LANGHEINRICH) Pablo Sanz (20020.org / mediateletipos.net)
  • 2. What is this about? This is a selection of artworks that share the common aim of creating a highly immersive experience. Even though, they might be considered as quite different regarding aesthetics and the strategies, technologies and concepts behind them. <IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCE> can be interpreted in many different ways and actually might be linked direct or metaphorically to a vast number of areas (*). ...however, this brief selection is mostly based in the following ideas: > SYNESTHETIC / multi-sensory / cross-modal stimulation. > Extensive and conscious use of physical (or perceived) SPACE in order to create an environment for active senso-motor exploration by the audience. > Alteration of TIME-SPACE PERCEPTION. > Focus on SOUND and its physicality (we listen with our ears but in fact we do listen with our bodies too!). (*) artworks with arguably immersive qualities can be found for example on: virtual reality, simulations, media- architecture, interactive art, responsive environments, land-art, videogames, cinematic experiences, performance, theatre, clubbing, pop concerts, acousmatic, surround music... SYNESTHETICS II :: Interfaculty ArtScience ((( IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCES )))
  • 3. Everyday-Natural-Urban Environments We could argue that the world constitutes an immersive environment that we inhabit and that our sensorium works as a whole, all the sense modalities perceiving simultaneously. Therefore, public space, natural and urban environments are the first source and medium for remarkable multi-sensory experiences. Walking has been employed as an aesthetic practice on itself and as a valuable tool for the creation of (anti)art... a few historical examples: > Flânerie (Walter Benjamin / Baudelaire) > DADA : Urban readymades / visit, excursions > Surrealists: deambulations / the unconscious city > Lettrist drifting (dérive) > Situationists: Psychogeography > Land Walk / Transurbance (T. Smith, R. Long, Constant, R. Smithson...) ‘The street I believed was capable of ‘Walks are like clouds, causing surprising turning-points in my They come and go.’ life, the street, with its restlessness and its glances, was my true element: Hamish Fulton, Walking Beside the River there, as in no other place, I received the Vechte, Stadtische Galerie, Nordhorn, 1997. winds of eventuality’ Andrè Breton, Les pas perdus PSYCHOGEOGRAPHY: the study of the specific effects of the geographical environment, consciously organized or not, on the emotions and behavior of individuals. DÉRIVE: “a mode of experimental behaviour linked to the conditions of urban society: a technique of transient passage through varied ambiances. Also used to designate a specific period of continuous ‘dériving’.” (Internationale Situationniste, 1, 1958)
  • 4. <PLAY AUDIO> Janet CARDIFF - Walks The Missing Voice (London, 1999) (excerpt) (2:14) (Since 1991) ‘The format of the audio walks is similar to that of an audioguide. You are given a CD player or Ipod and told to stand or sit in a particular spot and press play. On the CD you hear my voice giving directions, like “turn left here” or “go through this gateway”, layered on a background of sounds: the sound of my footsteps, traffic, birds, and miscellaneous sound effects that have been pre- recorded on the same site as they are being heard. This is the important part of the recording. The virtual recorded soundscape has to mimic the real physical one in order to create a new world as a seamless combination of the two. My voice gives directions but also relates thoughts and narrative elements, which instills in the listener a desire to continue and finish the walk.’ -Janet Cardiff, from the The Walk Book. A video walk is similar to an audio walk but functions quite differently because of the visuals. With a video walk the participants receive a small digital video camera with headphones. The tape that they watch has been previously recorded on the site with a professional camera and binaural microphones following the route, which has been prepared with actors and props. Then there is an extensive editing process using the acted scenes, sound effects, and video effects to create a continuous motion. The audience follows this prerecorded film on the camera. The architecture in the video stays the same as the physical world, but the people and their actions change, so there is a strange disjunction for the viewer about what is real. SYNESTHETICS II :: Interfaculty ArtScience ((( IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCES )))
  • 5. Bernhard LEITNER “Sound spaces--space in general, really--are measured acoustically SOUND:SPACE by the entire body, not just with the ears” - Bernhard Leitner During the late 1960s in New York, Austrian architect and artist Bernhard Leitner designed the first sound-space sculpture or architecture, prior to the advent of the technical possibilities required for its realization. The idea stemmed from Leitner’s interest in space (architecture), classical and modern music, modern dance and the spectrum of technologies at the disposal of twentieth-century art. ‘Sound Spaces are not just spaces in which sound can be heard. Rather, it is sound itself that creates the space and its special qualities. Therefore the experience of hearing not only enables us to experience the space around us, they can also make it possible to experience physical space as an “inner” space. Bernhard Leitner’s work leads us to a quality of sound (as space) that remains concealed within stimulus streams. It shows the potentials of sensual experience that we are barely conscious of because they are either lost or have remained unknown as possibilities’. - Cathrin Pichler <PLAY VIDEO> TonRaumSkulptur / Sound Space Sculpture (1968-1973) DVD P.U.L.S.E. #1 : Tuba Architecture (1999) DVD P.U.L.S.E. #11 : Serpentinata (2006) DVD P.U.L.S.E. #12 : Serpentinata, Dance Montage Designs for sound spaces that are to be materialised out of the movement of sound within a cube-shaped ideal architecture. The Soundcube is an instrument with 384 individually controllable sound sources. SYNESTHETICS II :: Interfaculty ArtScience ((( IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCES )))
  • 6. STIMULINE Audio-tactile performance by Lynn POOK & Julien CLAUSS (2007) STiMULiNE is an audio-tactile performance in which the group of participants wears futuristic seeming suits equipped with acoustic activators that transmit sound as an impulse on skin and bones. Sounds are thus not perceived through the outer membrane of the ear but are transmitted as the finest of vibrations through the entire body to the inner ear. It is a form of fictional concert without narrative structure that starts from the assumption that public sites for culture in real space will increasingly be replaced by virtual communication. STiMULiNE departs from the traditional concert situation and experiments with forms of perception of space and body. The participants lie relaxed on the floor while the two artists let the sounds move along and through the bodies. The presence of the public and the social interaction between the participants thereby becomes a central creative element. SYNESTHETICS II :: Interfaculty ArtScience ((( IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCES )))
  • 7. FILMACHINE Keiichiro SHIBUYA / Takashi IKEGAMI (2006) Collaboration between sound artist Keiichiro Shibuya and Takashi Ikegami, a scholar in the area of Complex Systems Science from the Univ. of Tokyo. It is based on “The Third Term Music” a new data-music construction/composition theory that they advocate applying the process of Complex Systems Science. quot;Filmachinequot; (film+machine) is a sound installation which places the visitor inside a vortex of sound and light that transcends the traditional perspective of the cinematic experience. It is a machine which generates acoustic space/time/motion structures. There is a black spherical skeleton surrounded by the suspended 24 speakers from the ceiling. The quot;filmachinequot; replays streams of sound files that are completely controlled by the 3D acoustic system quot;Huronquot;, accompanying flashing running LED patterns. On entering the installation, visitors lose their familiar stable feelings due to the undulated floor. They can move freely in the installation, experiencing auditory feelings of space and movement caused by the sound that is in motion at a specific spot. <PLAY VIDEO> Filmachine @ Transmediale 2008 (Berlin, DE) SYNESTHETICS II :: Interfaculty ArtScience ((( IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCES )))
  • 8. Erwin REDL - MATRIX II (2000/2005) interactive LED Installation ‘Green LED lights are strung on wires from the ceiling in a darkened room, and the measurements are painstakingly exact. The visitor gets the sense of entering an alternate universe - the Matrix - as the lights outline different paths, some straight, some diagonal, some up, some down. The work constantly shifts and redefines itself, offering a completely different panorama depending on the angle and position of the viewer. Combining geometry with art, space, time and perception, it's an achievement of sheer brilliance - and magic’. - from The Orange County Register. exhibition quot;Ecstasy: In and About Altered Statesquot; @ MoCA (Los Angeles, 2005) SYNESTHETICS II :: Interfaculty ArtScience ((( IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCES )))
  • 9. Erwin REDL - large-scale light installations ‘My work reflects upon the condition of art making after the “digital experience.” The formal and structural approach to various media I employ, such as installation, CD-ROM, internet and sound, almost requires binary logic, because I assemble the material according to a narrow set of self-imposed rules which often incorporate algorithms, controlled randomness and other methods inspired by computer code. Since 1997, I have investigated the term “reverse engineering” by (re-)translating the abstract aesthetic language of virtual reality and 3-D computer modelling back into an architectural environment by means of large-scale light installations. In this body of work, space is experienced as a second skin, our social skin, which is transformed through my artistic intervention. Due to the very nature of its architectural dimension, participating by simply being “present” is an integral part of the installations. Visual perception has to work in conjunction with corporeal motion, and the passage of time, an additional parameter of motion. The formal aspect of the works is easily accessible. An interpretation and understanding of this aspect is dependent upon the viewer’s subjective references. Equally, the various individual’s interactions within the context of the installation re-shape each viewer’s subjective references and reveal a complex social phenomenon.’ - Erwin Redl SYNESTHETICS II :: Interfaculty ArtScience ((( IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCES )))
  • 10. Ann Veronica JANSSENS´interventions Ann Veronica Janssens creates 'propositions' or 'interventions' rather than art works. Her installations are based on the relation to time and space and a characteristic fascination with natural phenomena and everyday experience. Through the uses of light, artificial fog, projections and sound, she creates sensorial environments that play with our perception. Janssens' treatment of space embodies subtle and poetic oppositions of transparency and opaqueness, emptiness and fullness. ‘My first “constructions” made during mid-80s, were spatial extensions of existing architecture. These graftings at once formed and gave onto what I call “super spaces”: the spaces surrounding a given space, spaces without space, places for the capture of light, cement and glass cases, spaces conceived as springboards towards the void. It is this void that I try to set in motion, conferring upon it a kind of temporality. I always experiment with the possibilities of rendering fluid the perception of matter or architecture which I see as some kind of obstacle to movement and sculpture. My use of light to infiltrate matter and architecture is undertaken with a view to provoking a perceptual experience wherein this materiality is made unstable, its resistance dissolved. This movement is often provoked by the brain itself.’ ‘It’s a question of thresholds between two states of perception, between shadow and light, the defined and the undefined, silence and explosion; the threshold where the image reabsorbs itself.’ ‘It’s a question of provoking an experience of excess, of the surpassing of limits. Situations of dazzlement, remanence or the persistence of vision, vertigo, saturation, speed, and exhaustion interest me in as much as they allow us to structure ourselves around a threshold of visual/temporal/physical/psychological instability.’ - Ann Veronica Janssens interviewed by Michel François. <PLAY VIDEO> ARE YOU EXPERIENCED? exhibition at EAC (Castelló, ES) Feb 2009 SYNESTHETICS II :: Interfaculty ArtScience ((( IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCES )))
  • 11. La Monte Young + Marian Zazeela´s Dream Houses In 1966, Young and Zazeela pioneered the concept of the continuous sound and light environment, and have since then presented large- scale sound and light collaborative environments in museums and galleries worldwide for continuous periods from one week to six years in addition to the their permanent Dream House, installed at their residence in NYC. Young and Zazeela characterize the Sound and Light Environment as quot;a time installation measured by a setting of continuous frequencies in sound and light.quot; ...what I am interested is in music ...I think that this kind of sense of is becoming a receptor for a time has to do with getting away higher state of information that from the earthly sense of direction can flow through me and then which goes from birth to death... - become manifest physically as LaMonte Young music... - LaMonte Young “The Dream House can inspire sincere self-reflection—of how people physically move, of how little time there is for stillness, of how we’ve become trained to seek and to reward movement and action. To embrace the Dream House is to become entranced and lost in time. And with no permanent closing date established for Young and Zazeela’s collaborative installation, this could be the dream that never ends.” - Nick Stillman in The Brooklyn Rail (June 2003). quot;Intense light [is] aimed through [color] filters at quasicalligraphic aluminum shapes hung by ultrafine filaments. The effect is a unique and extraordinary transvaluation of perception: the mobiles seem to hover unanchored, while the shadows they cast in various hues attain an apparent solidity against the light-dissolved walls equal to their literally palpable but apparently disembodied sources. Like Young's music, to which it serves as an almost uncanny complement, Zazeela's work is predicated upon the extended duration necessary to experience the nuances which are its essence.quot; - Edward Strickland in ‘Minimalism: Origins’ (Indiana University Press, 1993) SYNESTHETICS II :: Interfaculty ArtScience ((( IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCES )))
  • 12. Edwin van der Heide - LSP Laser / Sound Performance (2004-ongoing) LSP is a research trajectory exploring the relationship between sound and three dimensional image by means of laser projection, using as a starting point the patterns known as Lissajous figures (or Bowditch curves), described in 1815 by Nathaniel Bowditch. By combining audio with visuals the spatial perception of sound is often being reduced because of the two-dimensional nature of the image versus the three-dimensional nature of sound. With laser(s), it is possible to create three-dimensional changing environments that surround the audience. Here, the image is generated by projecting a laser on a thin layer of smoke or fog. Image and sound originate from the same real-time generated source in the computer. This results in a performance where image and sound play equally important roles. The environment challenges the audience to change their perspective continuously. <PLAY VIDEO> 'LSP - Alveole 14' @ Saint-Nazaire (FR) during the Estuaire festival 2007. SYNESTHETICS II :: Interfaculty ArtScience ((( IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCES )))
  • 13. Granular~Synthesis (1991-2003) GRANULAR SYNTHESIS (Kurt Hentschlager & Ulf Langheinrich) create electronic emotion machines, that surround, immerse their audience, overwhelm the human sensory apparatus by massive use of subsonic and penetrating light frequencies, literally touching the visitors. ‘Our approach has become the approach of sound designers who think sound as a body and a substance and from this position we think visuals as structures and movements in time. Designing here is Architecture of sound qualities in a visual representation rather than visual effects. The sound is a body of a certain consistence and weight. The visual representation displays a membrane, at the surface. A surface of a certain colour and structure’. <PLAY VIDEO> DVD Immersive Works :: Model 5 :: <360> SYNESTHETICS II :: Interfaculty ArtScience ((( IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCES )))
  • 14. Kurt HENTSCHLAGER - FEED PERFORMANCE for Unreal Characters, Fog, Stroboscopes & Pulse Lights (2005-06) The second part (30min) of FEED is a composition for artificial fog, pulse- and stroboscopic light, the combination inducing a complete loss of spatial orientation, without depth of field. A matching sound-scape infused by feedback and intense sub-low bass augments this impression, generating a heightened physical experience. FEED stresses the limits of perception. What evolves is a pure sensation of light projected directly onto the retinas of the spectators. `Thick fog, visual and audio hyper-stimulation shatters the frontal dimension of theatrical spectacle and give an uncanny, oppressive and sacral sensation all at the same time: we are actually inside the liquid blackness of that screen, totally at the mercy of a powerful flow of sound and light. The audience’s bodies have replaced the asexual 3D models. Or, better, the screen has wrapped up the physical space through a genial amputation of sight, which has completely reshaped the audience’s ”senseratio”. The fog cuts out sight and transforms any visual stimulation into a tactile stimulation. But this is exactly the way media environments evolve, dulling some senses to the advantage of others. This is why FEED is not only a performance but a story of the evolution of media from a screen paradigm to an immersion paradigm that’s no longer based on the detachment of sight but on the ob-scenity of touch which destroys the “scene” distance between the sign and the audience. In short – we witness the history of media from the age of spectacle to the age of experience in fifty minutes. Absolutelly McLuhanesque!’ - Francesco D´Orazio, NIM Magazine. (2006) ‘I think my early affiliation with architecture still shows in my work. It becomes obvious in the way I use sound, as both a spatial and sculptural element of my work. With sculptural element I mean the spatial effects of sub low bass for instance, which create a kind of invisible but very physical fabric in a given space. It creates a shifting virtual architecture of sorts, resonating with the actual space where in it unfolds. This concept generally applies to the way I use sound in my work, its equally about “painting” with sound than composing along a timeline’. - Kurt Hentschlager. SYNESTHETICS II :: Interfaculty ArtScience ((( IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCES )))
  • 15. Kurt HENTSCHLAGER - ZEE Immersive Environment (2008) ZEE is a “mind-scape” in which artificial fog and stroboscopic light fully obscure the physical installation space, resulting in an almost complete disconnect from the without and offering an entry towards a surprise within. Stroboscopic- and pulse light filtering through the thick fog augment an impression of a luminescent kinetic sphere wherein the environment acts as the seeding stimulant and you synthesize the impression. Based on the research and findings with FEED, the performance, ZEE is expanding on composing with multiple interfering strobe lights amidst fog and the effects those have on a human perception and decoding apparatus: the brain. A surround sound-scape synchronizes to interference phenomena - of what could be described as a psychedelic architecture of pure light. ZEE is an almost quiet work, seen in relation to the earlier work of Kurt Hentschläger and Granular Synthesis. . The overall composition has no beginning or end and the audience can roam freely the space. It is best understood as a fluctuating environment. SYNESTHETICS II :: Interfaculty ArtScience ((( IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCES )))
  • 16. References Walkscapes. El andar como práctica estética (Land & Scape Series) Francesco Careri, Ed. Gustavo Gili (2005) Janet Cardiff: The Walk Book Edited by Thyssen Bornemisza Art Contemporary (2005) Bernhard Leitner : P.U.L.S.E. Text by Boris Groys, Bernhard Leitner, Hatje Cantz (2008) A very sonic membrane. filmachine by Keiichiro Shibuya and Takashi Ikegami Andreas Broeckmann & Stefan Riekeles (Eds.), Edition Jardins des Pilotes / Diaphanes (2008) Sound and Light: La Monte Young & Marian Zazeela William Duckworth and Richard Fleming (Editors), Bucknell University Press (1996) @rtists// Chapel of the Extreme Experience: A short history of Stroboscopic Flicker and the Dream Machine John Geiger, Soft Skull Press (2004) Janet Cardiff / George Miller Minimalism: Origins http://www.cardiffmiller.com/ Edward Strickland, Indiana University Press (2000) Bernhard Leitner http://www.bernhardleitner.at/ Visual Music: Synaesthesia in Art and Music Since 1900 Lynn Pook Kerry Brougher (Editor), Jeremy Strick (Editor), Ari Wiseman (Author), Judith Zilczer (Author) http://www.lynnpook.de/ Thames and Hudson (2005) Julien Clauss http://www.cycliq.org/ Lost in translation: Keiichiro Shibuya Christoph Cox on sound in the discourse of synaesthesia http://atak.jp/en/about/shibuya.html ArtForum, Oct 2005. Takashi Ikegami http://sacral.c.u-tokyo.ac.jp/~ikeg/ Intersensoriality - Steve Connor Erwin Redl conference on The Senses, Thames Valley University, 6 February 2004 http://www.paramedia.net/ Ann Veronica Janssens The Sounding Image: http://www.artnet.com/artist/8925/ann-veronica-janssens.html LaMonte Young + Marian Zazeela About the relationship between art and music—an art-historical retrospective view http://melafoundation.org/ Barbara John, MediaArtNet (2005) Edwin van der Heide http://www.evdh.net/ Image and Sound as an Emotion Machine Granular~Synthesis Ulf Langheinrich, MediaArtNet (2006) http://www.epidemic.net/geo/art/gs Kurt Hentschlager Off-Key Continuities: http://www.hentschlager.info/ Audiovisual Interventions by the Video Bands Metamkine and Granular Synthesis Ulf Langheinrich Heinrich Deisl - VJ Theory (2006) http://www.epidemic.net/geogb/art/gs/ulf/ SYNESTHETICS II :: Interfaculty ArtScience ((( IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCES )))