Getting a glimpse into the curious minds of others has never been so beautiful – or so bright.
Designers Brian W. Brush and Yong Ju Lee of E/B Office New York created an extensive fiber-optic installation for the Teton County Library grand opening in Wyoming that visualizes library searches in flashes of colored light. Dubbed Filament Mind, the installation, which opened at the end of January, uses over five miles of fiber-optic cables and 44 LED illuminators to collect, categorize, and render searches from libraries all across the state of Wyoming into glowing bursts of color."
“Ukeles' work is created through a process of participatory democracy that unites people in open dialogue about the characteristics of important community ecological issues. I Make Maintenance Art One Hour Every Day (1976) was a performance/project exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Ukeles collaborated with 300 hundred maintenance staff at a bank in Manhattan. She took Polaroid photographs of men and women doing routine jobs and asked them to discuss their labor as either art or work. Jobs were often discussed by the same person, at different times, in different ways. Later, she exhibited the workers' narrative statements alongside pictures of their daily chores. She asked viewers to challenge the social constructions of aesthetic and cultural values that define what work and art mean.”
and if that isn't curious enough, try this:
November 9th, 2012 http://sites.duke.edu/dukeresearch/category/behaviorpsychology/
By Ashley Yeager
A single hair on a gecko’s foot has enough “stickiness” to pick up an ant. Credit: Kellar Autumn, Lewis & Clark College.
Sticky feet driving you up the wall?
Well, maybe not. But they are for Cicak, or Gecko-Man. After a few sips of coffee contaminated by a virus-infected gecko, a loser lab scientist suddenly becomes a Malaysian superhero, sticking to walls, using his tongue to scale skyscrapers and even eating bugs.
“Gecko feet are nature’s best adhesion and removal device,” said Lewis & Clark College biologist Kellar Autumn. He gave the keynote speech during the awards ceremony of the third annual Abhijit Mahato photo contest on Nov. 7.
While Autumn riled up the audience with his images and videos of the science behind gecko feet and their inspiration for new adhesives, robots and superheroes, he also used the talk to remind the photographers in the audience that appearance and scientific images can be misleading.
The science of how geckos climb up walls and across ceilings is at least a 200-year-old question, one that even Aristotle tried to answer. In the late 1960s, one scientist took some scanning electron microscope images of gecko feet and thought they revealed suction cups as the mechanism that let geckos scale walls and ceilings. But that idea was wrong.
It wasn’t until Autumn and his collaborators began looking more closely at the creature’s feet in the late nineties and early 2000s that scientists realized it wasn’t suction, but nanometer-scale interactions between a surface and the gecko’s foot hairs, or setae, that let them stick, release and climb. His team took a single gecko foot hair and made the first direct measurement of its adhesive function. Turns out the stickiness in one hair is so strong it can lift the weight of an ant.
The team also discovered that geckos release their feet as they climb by changing the angle of their feet hairs. That means that the contact geometry of setae are more important that any other factor in their ability to climb, Autumn said, adding that the discovery demonstrated “we could make this stuff.”
He showed videos of both the kinematics and kinetics of the way geckos climb and compared and contrasted the physics the creatures use to the human-engineered “nanopimples” and wedge-shaped nanoridges that resemble geckos’ sticky feet. The animal’s foot physics is “different than pretty much everything else out there,” Autumn said, though he did describe several developing projects to try to mimic the animals’ movements.
Still, he said, he’s convinced that “had geckos not evolved their sticky feet, humans would not have invented adhesive nanostructures.” And, there’s no way we’d have gecko gloves or could even think of gecko band-aides and the other cool applications of gecko-feet science, he said.
“Adhesive force of a single gecko foot-hair.” Autumn, K., et. al. (2000). Nature 405, 681-685.
“Evidence for van der Waals adhesion in gecko setae.” Autumn, K., et. al. (2002). Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 99, 12252-12256.
“Evidence for self-cleaning in gecko setae.” Hansen, W. and Autumn, K. (2005). Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. 102, 385-389.
Interesting story about how our minds, what we are focused on affects our perceptions and shapes what we see.
This story begins with a group of people who are expert at looking: the professional searchers known as radiologists.
"If you watch radiologists do what they do, [you're] absolutely convinced that they are like superhuman," says Trafton Drew, an attention researcher at Harvard Medical School.
About three years ago, Drew started visiting the dark, cavelike "reading rooms" where radiologists do their work. For hours he would stand watching them, in awe that they could so easily see in the images before them things that to Drew were simply invisible.
"These tiny little nodules that I can't even see when people point to them — they're just in a different world when it comes to finding this very, very hard-to-find thing," Drew says.
But radiologists still sometimes fail to see important things, and Drew wanted to understand more. Because of his line of work, he was naturally familiar with one of the most famous studies in the field of attention research, the Invisible Gorilla study.
In that groundbreaking study, research subjects are shown a video of two teams of kids — one team wears white; the other wears black — passing two basketballs back and forth between players as they dodge and weave around each other. Before it begins, viewers are told their responsibility is to do one thing and one thing only: count how many times the players wearing white pass the ball to each other.
This task isn't easy. Because the players are constantly moving around, viewers really have to concentrate to count the throws.
Then, about a half-minute into the video, a large man in a gorilla suit walks on screen, directly to the middle of the circle of kids. He stops momentarily in the center of the circle, looks straight ahead, beats his chest, and then casually strolls off the screen.
The kids keep playing, and then the video ends and a series of questions appear, including: "Did you see the gorilla?"
"Sounds ridiculous, right?" says Drew. "There's a gorilla on the screen — of course you're going to see it! But 50 percent of people miss the gorilla."
This is because when you ask someone to perform a challenging task, without realizing it, their attention narrows and blocks out other things. So, often, they literally can't see even a huge, hairy gorilla that appears directly in front of them.
That effect is called "inattentional blindness" — which brings us back to the expert lookers, the radiologists.
Drew wondered if somehow being so well-trained in searching would make them immune to missing large, hairy gorillas. "You might expect that because they're experts, they would notice if something unusual was there," he says.
He took a picture of a man in a gorilla suit shaking his fist, and he superimposed that image on a series of slides that radiologists typically look at when they're searching for cancer. He then asked a bunch of radiologists to review the slides of lungs for cancerous nodules. He wanted to see if they would notice a gorilla the size of a matchbook glaring angrily at them from inside the slide.
But they didn't: 83 percent of the radiologists missed it, Drew says.
This wasn't because the eyes of the radiologists didn't happen to fall on the large, angry gorilla. Instead, the problem was in the way their brains had framed what they were doing. They were looking for cancer nodules, not gorillas, so "they look right at it, but because they're not looking for a gorilla, they don't see that it's a gorilla."
In other words, what we're thinking about — what we're focused on — filters the world around us so aggressively that it literally shapes what we see. So, Drew says, we need to think carefully about the instructions we give to professional searchers like radiologists or people looking for terrorist activity, because what we tell them to look for will in part determine what they see and don't see.
The good folks at Edge.org organized a symposium, and 164 thinkers contributed suggestions. John McWhorter, a linguist at Columbia University, wrote that people should be more aware of path dependence. This refers to the notion that often “something that seems normal or inevitable today began with a choice that made sense at a particular time in the past, but survived despite the eclipse of the justification for that choice.”
For instance, typewriters used to jam if people typed too fast, so the manufacturers designed a keyboard that would slow typists. We no longer have typewriters, but we are stuck with the letter arrangements of the qwerty keyboard.
Path dependence explains many linguistic patterns and mental categories, McWhorter continues. Many people worry about the way e-mail seems to degrade writing skills. But there is nothing about e-mail that forbids people from using the literary style of 19th-century letter writers. In the 1960s, language became less formal, and now anybody who uses the old manner is regarded as an eccentric.
Evgeny Morozov, the author of “The Net Delusion,” nominated the Einstellung Effect, the idea that we often try to solve problems by using solutions that worked in the past instead of looking at each situation on its own terms. This effect is especially powerful in foreign affairs, where each new conflict is viewed through the prism of Vietnam or Munich or the cold war or Iraq.
Daniel Kahneman of Princeton University writes about the Focusing Illusion, which holds that “nothing in life is as important as you think it is while you are thinking about it.” He continues: “Education is an important determinant of income — one of the most important — but it is less important than most people think. If everyone had the same education, the inequality of income would be reduced by less than 10 percent. When you focus on education you neglect the myriad of other factors that determine income. The differences of income among people who have the same education are huge.”
Joshua Greene, a philosopher and neuroscientist at Harvard University, has a brilliant entry on Supervenience. Imagine a picture on a computer screen of a dog sitting in a rowboat. It can be described as a picture of a dog, but at a different level it can be described as an arrangement of pixels and colors. The relationship between the two levels is asymmetric. The same image can be displayed at different sizes with different pixels. The high-level properties (dogness) supervene the low-level properties (pixels).
Supervenience, Greene continues, helps explain things like the relationship between science and the humanities. Humanists fear that scientists are taking over their territory and trying to explain everything. But new discoveries about the brain don’t explain Macbeth. The products of the mind supervene the mechanisms of the brain. The humanities can be informed by the cognitive sciences even as they supervene them.
If I were presumptuous enough to nominate a few entries, I’d suggest the Fundamental Attribution Error: Don’t try to explain by character traits behavior that is better explained by context.
I’d also nominate the distinction between emotion and arousal. There’s a general assumption that emotional people are always flying off the handle. That’s not true. We would also say that Emily Dickinson was emotionally astute. As far as I know, she did not go around screaming all the time. It would be useful if we could distinguish between the emotionality of Dickinson and the arousal of the talk-show jock.
Public life would be vastly improved if people relied more on the concept of emergence. Many contributors to the Edge symposium hit on this point.
We often try to understand problems by taking apart and studying their constituent parts. But emergent problems can’t be understood this way. Emergent systems are ones in which many different elements interact. The pattern of interaction then produces a new element that is greater than the sum of the parts, which then exercises a top-down influence on the constituent elements.
Culture is an emergent system. A group of people establishes a pattern of interaction. And once that culture exists, it influences how the individuals in it behave. An economy is an emergent system. So is political polarization, rising health care costs and a bad marriage.
Emergent systems are bottom-up and top-down simultaneously. They have to be studied differently, as wholes and as nested networks of relationships. We still try to address problems like poverty and Islamic extremism by trying to tease out individual causes. We might make more headway if we thought emergently.
We’d certainly be better off if everyone sampled the fabulous Edge symposium, which, like the best in science, is modest and daring all at once.
"By hooking a Kinect sensor up to one of those funky spherical Pufferfish displays, The Technology Studio in the U.K. has built itself a desktop version of the unblinking Eye of Sauron, which follows you around with its gaze. It's almost creepy enough to make you want to turn invisible.
Pufferfish displays, called PufferSpheres, use an internal projector and some kind of totally sweet savory lens called an Umami lens that can toss the projection onto a nearly seamless 360 degree sphere. By wiring the projector up to a Kinect sensor, the Great Lidless Eye can follow you as you move around the room:"
Link to website:
Realtime art manifesto
Auriea Harvey & Michaël Samyn
Gaming realities: the challenge of digital culture
Auriea Harvey and Michaël Samyn are new media artists who have embraced realtime 3D game technology as their artistic medium of choice. Realtime 3D is the most remarkable new creative technology since oil on canvas. It is much too important to be wasted on computer games alone. This manifesto is a call-to-arms for creative people (including, but not limited to, video game designers and fine artists) to embrace this new medium and start realizing its enormous potential. As well as a set of guidelines that express our own ideas and ideals about using the technology.
1. Realtime 3D is a medium for artistic expression.
2. Be an author.
3. Create a total experience.
4. Embed the user in the environment.
5. Reject dehumanisation: tell stories.
6. Interactivity wants to be free.
7. Don’t make modern art.
8. Reject conceptualism.
9. Embrace technology.
10. Develop a punk economy.
Realtime art manifesto
1. Realtime 3D is a medium for artistic expression.
Games are not the only things you can make with realtime 3D technology.
And modification of commercial games is not the only option accessible to artists.
Realtime 3D is the most remarkable new creative technology since oil on canvas.
It is much too important to remain in the hands of toy makers and propaganda machines.
We need to rip the technology out of their greedy claws and put them to shame by producing
the most stunning art to grace this planet so far.
(And claim the name “game” for what we do even if it is inappropriate.)
Real-time 3d interactives can be an art form unto themselves.
2. Be an author.
Do not hide behind the freedom of the user in an interactive environment to ignore your responsibility as a creator.
This only ends in confirming cliches.
Do not design in board room meetings or give marketeers creative power.
Your work needs to come from a singular vision and be driven by a personal passion.
Do not delegate direction jobs.
Be a dictator.
But collaborate with artisans more skilled than you.
Ignore the critics and the fanboys.
Make work for your audience instead.
Embrace the ambiguity that the realtime medium excells in.
Leave interpretation open where appropriate
but keep the user focused and immersed the worlds that you create.
Commercial games are conservative, both in design as in mentality.
They eschew authorship, pretending to offer the player a neutral vessel to take him or her through the virtual world.
But the refusal to author results in a mimicing of generally accepted notions, of television and other mass media.
Reject pure commercialism.
Individual elements of many commercial games made with craft and care produce artistic effects
but the overall product is not art.
Some commercial games have artistic moments,
but we need to go further.
Step one: drop the requirement of making a game.
The game structure of rules and competition stands in the way of expressiveness.
Interactivity wants to be free.
Gaming stands in the way of playing.
There are so many other ways of interacting in virtual environments.
We have only just begun to discover the possibilities.
Games are games.
They are ancient forms of play that have their place in our societies.
But they are by far not the only things one can do with realtime technologies.
Stop making games.
Be an author.
3. Create a total experience.
Do not render!
All elements serve the realisation of the piece as a whole.
Models, textures, sound, interaction, environment, atmosphere,
drama, story, programming
are all equally important.
Do not rely on static renderings.
Everything happens in real time.
The visuals as well as the logic.
Create multi-sensorial experiences.
Simulate sensorial sensations for which output hardware does not exist (yet).
Make the experience feel real
(it does not need to look real).
Do not imitate other media but develop an aesthetic style that is unique.
Make the activity that the user spends most time doing the most interesting one in the game.
It’s not about the individual elements but about the total effect of the environment.
The sum of its parts.
In the end the work is judged by the quality of authorship
and not by its individual elements.
Models, textures, sound, interaction design, environment design, atmosphere, drama, story, programming.
Together without hierarchy.
No element can be singled out. All are equally important.
Create a simulated multi-sensorial experience. Not only a picture.
Or only a game.
Or only a soundtrack.
4. Embed the user in the environment.
The user is not disembodied in virtual space
but takes the body into the experience.
The avatar is not a neutral vessel but allows the user to navigate
not only through the virtual space
but also through the narrative content.
Interaction is the link between the user and the piece.
Provide for references
(both conceptual and sensorial)
to connect the user to the environment.
Make the user feel at home.
(and then play with his
-just don’t start with alienation,
the real world is alienationg enough as it is)
Reject the body-mind duality.
The user is the center of the experience.
Think “architecture”, not “film”.
Interaction is pivotal
to “put the user in the environment”.
The user is not disembodied but is provided with a device
(similar to a diving suit or astronout’s outfit)
which allows him
to visit a place that would otherwise not be accessible.
You bring your body with you to this place,
or at least your memories of it.
Strictly speaking, our output media only allow for the reproduction of visuals and sound .
But real-time interaction and processing can help us to achieve simulation of touch, smell and taste as well, through visuals and sound.
In fact, force feedback already provides for a way to communicate with touch.
And the activity of fingers on the mouse or hands holding a joystick allows for physical communication.
Don’t underestimate this connection.
From the USB port to the joystick. Through the hand to the nerous system.
Soon as smell and taste can be reproduced, those media can quickly be incorporated into our technology.
The virtual place is not necessarily alien.
On the contrary:
It can deal with any subject.
References to the real world
(of nature as well as culture)
(both conceptual and sensorial)
create links between the environment and the user.
Since interaction is pivotal, these links are crucial.
Make it feel real, not necessarily look real.
Develop a unique language for the realtime 3D medium and do not fall in MacLuhan’s trap
(don’t allow any old medium to become the content of the new)
Imitate life and not photography, or drawings, or comic strips or even old-school games.
Realism does not equal photo -realism!
In a multisensory medium, realism is a multisensory experience:
It has to feel real.
5. Reject dehumanisation: tell stories.
Stories ground people in culture,
(and remove the alienation that causes aggression)
stimulate their imagination,
(and therefore improve the capability to change)
teach them about themselves
and connect them with each other.
Stories are a vital element of society.
Let go of the idea of plot.
Realtime is non-linear.
Tell the story through interaction.
Do not use in-game movies or other non-realtime devices to tell the story.
Do not create a “drama manager”: let go of plot!
Plot is not compatible with realtime.
Think “poetry”, not “prose”.
The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle recognized six elements in Drama.
what happens in a play, the order of events,
is only one of them.
Next to plot we have
or the main idea in the work
or the personality or role played by an actor
the choice and delivery of words
the sound, rhythm and melody of what is being said
the visual elements of the work.
All of these can be useful in non-linear realtime experiences. Except plot.
But the realtime medium offers additional elements that easily augment or replace plot.
the direct influence of the viewer on the work
the presence of the viewer in the work
AN AUDIENCE OF ONE
every staging of the work is done for an audience of a single person in the privacy of his
These new elements add the viewer as an active participant to the experience.
This is not a reduction of the idea of story but an enrichment.
Realtime media allow us to tell stories that could not be told before.
Many of the mythical fantasies about art can now be made real.
Now we can step into paintings and become part of them.
Now sculptures can come alive and talk to us.
Now we walk onto the stage and take part in the action.
We can live the lives of romance characters.
Be the poet
or the muse.
Do not reject stortelling in realtime because it is not straightforward.
Realtime media allow us to make ambiguity and imagination active parts of the experience.
Embrace the ambiguity:
it is enriching.
The realtime medium allows for telling stories that cannot be told in any other language.
But realtime is not suitable for linear stories:
Realtime is a poetic technology.
Populate the virtual world with narrative elements that allow the player to make up his or her own story.
Imagination moves the story into the user’s mind.
It allows the story to penetrate the surface and take its place amongst the user’s thoughts & memories.
The bulk of your story should be told in realtime, through interaction.
Do not use in-game movies or other devices.
Do not fall back on a machine to create plot on the fly:
let go of plot,
plot is not compatible with realtime.
Do not squeeze the realtime medium into a linear frame.
Stories in games are not impossible or irrelevant, even if “all that matters is gameplay”.
Humans need stories and will find stories in everything.
Use this to your advantage.
Yes, “all that matters is gameplay”,
if you extend gameplay to mean all interaction in the game.
Because it is through this interaction that the realtime medium will tell its stories.
The situation is the story.
Choose your characters and environment carefully
so that the situation immediately triggers narrative associations in the mind of the user.
6. Interactivity wants to be free.
Don’t make games.
The rule-based structure and competitive elements in traditional game design stand in the way of expressiveness.
And often, ironically, rules get in the way of playfulness
(playfulness is required for an artistic experience!).
Express yourself through interactivity.
Interactivity is the one unique element of the realtime medium.
The one thing that no other medium can do better.
It should be at the center of your creation.
Interactivity design rule number one:
the thing you do most in the game, should be the thing that is most interesting to do.
i.e., If it takes a long time to walk between puzzles, the walk should be more interesting than the puzzles.
7. Don’t make modern art.
Modern art tends to be ironical, cynical, self referential, afraid of beauty, afraid of meaning
-other than the trendy discourse of the day-,
afraid of technology, anti-artistry.
Furthermore contemporary art is a marginal niche.
The audience is elsewhere.
Go to them rather then expecting them to come to the museum.
Contemporary art is a style, a genre, a format.
Do not fear beauty.
Do not fear pleasure.
Make art-games, not game-art.
Game art is just modern art
-ironical, cynical, afraid of beauty, afraid of meaning.
It abuses a technology that has already spawned an art form capable of communicating far beyond the reach of modern art.
Made by artists far superior in artistry and skills.
Game art is slave art.
Realtime media are craving your input, your visions.
Real people are starving for meaningful experiences.
And what’s more:
society needs you.
Contemporary civilisations are declining at an unsurpassed rate.
The world is collapsing while the Artists twiddle their thumbs in the museums.
Step into the world.
Into the private worlds of individuals.
Share your vision.
8. Reject conceptualism.
Make art for people,
not for documentation.
Make art to experience
and not to read about.
Use the language of your medium to communicate all there is to know.
The user should never be required to read a description or a manual.
Don’t parody things that are better than you.
Parodies of commercial games are ridiculous if their technology, craft and artistry do not match up with the original.
Don’t settle yourself in the position of the underdog: surpass them!
Go over their heads!
Show them how it’s done!
Put the artistry back in Art.
Make art for people, not for documentation.
Make art to experience and not art to read about.
Use the language of your work to communicate its content.
The audience should never be required to read the description.
The work should communicate all that is required to understand it.
9. Embrace technology.
Don’t be afraid of technology,
and least of all, don’t make art about this fear.
Technology is not nature. Technology is not god.
It’s a thing.
Made for people by people.
Grab it. Use it.
Software is infinitely reproducable and easy to distribute.
Reject the notion of scarcity.
Embrace the abundance that the digital allows for.
The uniqueness of realtime is in the experience.
Cut out the middle man: deliver your productions directly to the users.
Do not depend on galleries, museums, festivals or publishers.
Technology-based art should not be about technology:
it should be about life, death and the human condition.
Embrace technology, make it yours!
Use machines to make art for humans, not vice versa.
Software is infinitely reproducable
(there is no original; uniqueness is not required
-the uniqueness is in the experience)
Distribution of software is easy through the internet or portable data containers
(no elitism; no museums, galleries, or festivals; from creator to audience without mediation -and from the audience back to the creator, through the same distribution media)
10. Develop a punk economy.
Don’t shy away from competition with commercial developers.
Your work offers something that theirs does not:
originality of design,
depth of content,
Don’t worry about the polish too much.
Get the big picture right.
“Reduce the volume, Increase the quality and density”
Make short and intense games:
think haiku, not epic.
Think poetry, not prose.
Embrace punk aesthetics.
But don’t become too dependant on government or industry funding:
it is unreliable.
Sell your work directly to your audience.
And use alternative distribution methods that do not require enormous sales figures to break even.
Consider self-publishing and digital distribution.
Avoid retail and traditional games publishers.
Together they take so great a cut
that it requires you to sell hundreds of thousands of copies to make your production investment back.
Do not allow institutional or economic control of your intellectual property, ideas, technology and inventions .
Don’t depend on government support or the arts world exclusively.
Sell your games!
Communicate with your audience directly:
cut out the middle man.
Let the audience support your work.
Aristotle’s Six Elements of Drama
Fumito Ueda & Kenji Kaido: Game Design Methods of ICO
Realtime Art Manifesto presentation slides.
Text and image copied from http://www.elisidman.com/nature_of_neptune
Many of the the posts on this blog have examined the work of artists who incorporate concepts or methods from science into their artwork. This, however, is only one way the incongruous worlds or Art and Science can combine. What happens when, rather than bringing science into the studio, we bring art into the lab? This scenario is happening in research institutions more and more, often in the form of the Artist in Residence, an artist brought into a lab to create artwork, or to offer a new viewpoint on the research being done.
Daniel Kohn, currently an Artist in Residence at the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is one such artist who has been invited to work at a premier genetics research center. For a place to create artwork, Kohn was given part of a research lab to covert into his studio. I recently had a chance to sit down with Daniel to discuss his experience at Broad and the work he has created while there.
The mission of the Artist in Residence is two-pronged. First, the artist must absorb the research being done around him or her and translate or incorporate it into artwork. Secondly, the artist should try to influence or augment the actual research being done. Certainly the dialogue between artist and scientist should go both ways.
Kohn dove into the first objective head-long, unabashedly questioning the Broad scientists, and trying to learn and absorb what he could of the research being done around him. While allowing the scientific concepts to "wash over" him, he started a long series of water color paintings exploring "genomic space." He used these paintings to work through different ways of representing concepts from genetics, such as the linear string of nucleotides in a strand of DNA, or the spiral structure of chromatin. The results are lush, abstract paintings, often with swirling movement and a strong sense of depth and ambient light. A vague but fundamental sense of structure comes through as spiral/circular motion is contrasted with a linear/gridded framework.
Clearly, Kohn has successfully incorporated scientific concepts into his own visual language, but do his paintings speak about science? The work is a pleasure to view, but it is fair to say that almost no one looking at them without any background knowledge would guess that they are based on the structure of DNA. This is where we must ask if Kohn's work at Broad is engaging both directions of dialogue between artist and scientist. Certainly his artwork has been influenced by the science, but how can the artwork itself return the favor, and in turn influence the science?
This is a tough question. It applies not just to Kohn's work at Broad, but to the work of any artist working closely with scientific research. There seem to be a few possible ways of achieving this goal. One way is rather than directly influencing research, artwork can set a framework for scientific knowledge by putting it into the context of our own lives, specifically through our senses and emotions. The work won't drive new scientific advancements, but can instead show a new way of understanding the information. Successful artwork of this nature is very difficult to achieve. It requires a very thorough and fundamental understanding of both the physical properties of an object or system, and the subjective experience of encountering the object. Kohn acknowledges this, remarking that the process of turning his work at Broad into "art" will be a very long one. See the work of Andy Goldsworthy or Ned Kahn for stunning examples of artwork that place scientific concepts in the context of our own everyday experiences.
Another way an artist can influence science is to address the methods rather than the concepts. As visual thinkers, artists can offer new viewpoints about how to visualize scientific data in order to see information in a new light. In fact, this is the method that Kohn has used at the Broad Institute in order to influence scientific research. Together with a group of researchers, Kohn is helping to develop "functional visualization" tools that aim to help scientists understand complex biological systems. Rather than working to provide generalized visualizations for communication with nonspecialists, the team is building tools that will drive new science.
Thus, one way of creating artwork that addresses science is to contextualize or personalize it; i.e. make art that brings scientific facts into the realm of personal experience. The problem with this method is that it is very unlikely it will ever directly influence scientific research and help uncover new facts. Another way artists can influence science is by using their visual skills to help scientists develop new methods of visualizing or modeling data. However, this isn't actually artwork, it is design. It uses visual methods to achieve specific, practical goals, and therefore must ignore many essential attributes of artwork: perception, emotion, and reflection.
Herein lies a fundamental difference between Art and Science. The objectivity of science cannot, by definition, be influenced by the subjectivity of artwork. Any notions that artwork could provide a missing key to driving scientific research are simply illusions. When becoming involved with science in any way, an artist must choose between helping push the science without using actual artwork, or contextualizing the science without directly influencing it. Kohn's success has been doing the former, and it will be interesting to see how other Artists in Residence will address this fundamental difficulty.
Originally posted by Rick Corey, January 3, 2008.
Swedish engineer Billy Klüver is known for his important collaborations with some of the most influential artists in recent time. Eager to make new technology available to more artists, Klüver co-founded Experiments in Art and Technology in 1966. Here he talks to Swiss curator Hans Ulrich Obrist about his work with artists and the activities of E.A.T.
Special thanks to Julie Martin
PART I (III)
HUO: Could you tell me about the beginning of your art and technology projects, the first dialogues with artists and how it all started.
BK: I will say it started by instinct. There was no dialogue. It's like LUCY three billion years ago. I don't think it had anything to do with dialogue between Art and Science. The artists were looking for new materials; they have always done that: the people who found marble in Italy, the guys who invented oil paint in Holland, stretching canvases, using silk-screens and Rauschenberg's following it up as part of painting... or Duchamp choosing the snow shovel. In terms of artists expanding their means, I don't see much difference between that and including technology in the work.
In the 60s the new technology expanded at a phenomenal rate, and at Bell Labs I was in the middle of it. At the same time there was an explosion in New York City in art. Abstract Expressionism had run its course, and what was needed was a new way of finding motifs and subject matter, and the American environment was the one that came closest at hand. The American environment was there: the pastry in the window, the stockings, the comic strips. They were close at hand, and the Americans didn't have this intellectual overlay of critics and others that decided in which direction artists should go. In the sixties in Paris, you had to belong to a movement or specific direction in art. I had artist friends who were agonizing if they should sign a manifesto drawn up by what was essentially intellectuals who had nothing to do with art, people who found it a great, fun thing to behave like little dictators over an art movement. And so for my friends in Europe the United States became the area of freedom, where you did not have to be concerned with any intellectual overlay. And for the New York artists too.
"It all began in 1960 when Jean Tinguely asked me if I would help him to build a machine that would destroy itself at the Museum of Modern Art."
HUO: Was that the reason you moved to America from Sweden?
BK: That had nothing to do with my moving to this country. I moved to this country because I had seen so many movies and I wanted to see what it looked like. I had to wait until I was twenty-six otherwise I would have to do another two years of military service. So I got here in 1954, in the middle of the atmosphere of fear and terror that Senator Joseph McCarthy's investigations of supposed Communist infiltration were generating in the technical community. So I decided that I couldn't go and work for RCA or General Electric, which were prime targets for investigation. I found out that the best way to get around this problem was to get a Ph.D., which I did at U.C., Berkeley, and continued on to Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill,in New Jersey in 1957, where I did research on electron beam motion in crossed electric and magnetic fields and plasmas and later lasers.
At this time I began to work with artists in New York. and of course I had all the resources from Bell Laboratories behind me. I could use my assistants, I could use the guy who worked in the lab next door to ask a specific question. It all began in 1960 when Jean Tinguely asked me if I would help him to build a machine that would destroy itself at the Museum of Modern Art. He had been given the garden to build a sculpture but he didn't know what to do: he didn't know how big it should be or how to get parts. So I asked him "What do you want?" and he said, "Bicycle wheels". Well I walked down to the local bicycle shop and I asked, "Do you have old bicycle wheels?", and the guy said, "Yeah. I've got a lot of bicycle wheels," and he took me down to his basement and there were piles of old bicycles. I loaded them up in my Chevrolet convertible and carted them in to the museum. Jean Tinguely got enormously excited and after three weeks he had built this enormous construction. My colleagues at Bell Labs and I had devised timing and triggering devices and various ways for it to break apart; smoke, smells and fire would come out of it and others things would happened to it during the time it took to self- destruct. On the 17th of March, 1960, Homage to New York destroyed itself in front of all the invited people from the Upper East Side.
"In 1961 there was an exhibition at Moderna Museet in Stockholm entitled "Art in Motion" which was enormously important and Pontus asked me to organize the American contribution. I went to every artist I could think of in New York and asked, "Do you have a work that moves?"
While we were working on the machine, other artists in New York came around and looked at us. I thought at that time that I could contribute to artists in the sense of giving them more possibilities through technology. But what happened was that Robert Rauschenberg saw the whole operation as a collaboration between the artist and the engineer. And that was a new starting point, because I immediately understood that if an artist and an engineer collaborate on a project on an equal basis, then something interesting and unexpected might really come out of it.
HUO: And what was the first project you did with Rauschenberg?
BK: In 1961 there was an exhibition at Moderna Museet in Stockholm entitled "Art in Motion" which was enormously important and Pontus asked me to organize the American contribution. I went to every artist I could think of in New York and asked, "Do you have a work that moves?" Rauschenberg made a painting, Black Market, in which visitors were asked to move objects in and out of the work.
Meanwhile Bob had asked me if I wanted to collaborate with him on a project, and he had some ideas about an interactive environment, where the temperature, sound, smell, lights etc. would change as a person moved through it. Of course we coundn't do it with the technology available in the early 60's. And four or five years later after many discussions and a lot of work it ended up in Oracle, the five piece sound sculpture which is now on tour with the Rauschenberg retrospective. This piece took us several years to build. It was quite complicated. It doesn't look complicated, the electronics and the ideas are not very complicated, but when it came down to actually realizing it, it was. This was because of two restrictions, Bob didn't want any wires connecting the five pieces and he wanted all the controls in one of the pieces. So we had to build wireless transmitters from scratch and this produced interference and other problems.
In those days I had to operate outside my normal work, outside my normal operating procedures, so it was basically a six to midnight job. I had the co- operation of the people in the laboratory, my assistants and the other people, and everybody helped. There was never any problem with all of this. They liked it and everybody helped solve the problems.
HUO: That lead us to the 9 Evenings you organized which are collaborations between artists and engineers from Bell Laboratories. What did trigger these evening which now are a milestone of performance history?
BK: Well, as I said, Oracle took several years, in 1965 it was first shown at Leo Castelli's gallery. Meanwhile I had worked with Merce Cunningham on a dance with John Cage's music where the dancers triggered the music; with Jasper Johns on two paintings with a neon letter where he wanted the neon to be driven by batteries. My working with the dancers and composers on these projects finally led to a large-scale collaboration with Rauschenberg and other artists and to something new in the history of art and technology. And like any history a lot of parallel things happened at the same time, like the performances by Lucinda Childs, Yvonne Rainer, Steve Paxton, everybody...at Judson Church which were going on full blast with the same two hundred people coming to see the performances there.
By 1966 two things came together which really had nothing to do with each other -- the frustration of having such a small audience and the huge interest in new technology -- that ended up in the "9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering."
The sequence of events was that Knut Wiggen from Fylkingen, the music society in Stockholm, asked me to help organize the American participation in an Art and Technology Festival. I proposed the idea to Bob Rauschenberg, who liked the notion of the collaboration between artists and engineers. We invited a group of artists and I invited a group of colleagues from Bell Laboratories and the artists and engineers began to meet together, and after listening to the aritsts' ideas the engineers began to build equipment that the artists would use. During the summer the project with Sweden broke down, and we all decided to continue working together and to hold the performances in New York City. It was Simone Whitman who found the Armory on Lexington Avenue.
"More than thirty engineers from Bell Laboratories were working on this with us, and a huge number of artists in New York participated as performers or helpers in the ten pieces and it made an historic change in the whole business of art and technology."
In October 1966 we held a a series of nine evenings of ten artists' performances; each artist performed twice. This became a huge operation which 10,000 people attended. Now to go from 200 people to 10,000 in a few months was an enormous undertaking. More than thirty engineers from Bell Laboratories were working on this with us, and a huge number of artists in New York participated as performers or helpers in the ten pieces and it made an historic change in the whole business of art and technology.
The films from 9 EVENINGS, which I've been storing in my basement, are now being put together to document each artist's work as much as possible. There are two films completed already, Öyvind Fahlström's Kisses Sweeter Than Wine and Rauschenberg's Open Score and the next one is John Cage's Variations VII. We hope that in about a year-and-a-half all ten of the films will be ready.
HUO: Could you tell me about the beginnings of E.A.T. (Experiments in Art and Technology)?
BK: During the 9 Evenings, there was an enormous amount of energy and enthusiasm and we had lots of meetings in the bar in the basement of the Armory and around Rauschenberg's kitchen table and out of these discussion, Rauschenberg, Robert Whitman, Fred Waldhauer and I decided that we needed a foundation to continue the kinds of artist-engineer collaborations that 9 Evenings had developed. Because of the tax structure in the United States, we needed a non- profit, tax-exempt foundation, thus Experiments in Art and Technology was founded. The name was invented by our lawyer. None of us liked the name because the word "experiments" doesn't denote something that was a finished work. Artists don't experiment. But there it was.
Soon after 9 EVENINGS we called a meeting at the Central Plaza Hotel to see if artists in New York would be interested in something like E.A.T. Three hundred artists came to the meeting and we collected eighty immediate requests for technical help.
HUO: Could you describe how do you conceived the functions of this organization? In the text you talked about the organization of services. How exactly was Experiments Art and Technology defined as an organization.
BK: The principal activity on E.A.T. was to match artists who had technical problems or projects with engineers or scientists who could work with them. The basis of it is that you have one engineer and one artist and you set up a situation where they can work together. Now, the engineer works inside a company, so he has access to all the information and equipment he wants. So you don't need a place, a building, a laboratory or a space. From the very beginning we were against that. You only needed a space for the engineers and the artists to meet, and you needed a matching system for one to contact the other. But otherwise there was nothing else to it.
"Now the idea of matching artists and engineers and establishing artist- engineer collaboration is obvious. But in the early days of E.A.T. these ideas were completely new and different and you had to convince engineers to do it."
HUO: How did you build of a network of engineers? Was it easy to find engineers and to convince them to participate?
BK: We did all kinds of things to attract engineers. We held a competition where we put ads in the technical journals and in the New York Times for the best work of art from a collaboration where the prize went to the engineers.
We also went to engineering conventions, where we set up a booth with artists to talk to the engineers and sign them up. And then I gave talks at the engineering conventions; that way I got articles in technical journals like IEEE Spectrum. Within a few years, we had made contact with thousands of engineers, and we had two or three thousand engineer members who wanted to work with artists. Ultimately it was not a problem.
We established a system for finding an engineer to work with an artist with a specific technical problem: edge notch cards and knitting needles. We had one person in charge of the matchings. Now the idea of matching artists and engineers and establishing artist- engineer collaboration is obvious. But in the early days of E.A.T. these ideas were completely new and different and you had to convince engineers to do it.
reproduced from: http://artnode.se/artorbit/issue3/i_kluver/i_kluver.html
Turning to Technology: legendary engineer billy kluver on artist-engineer collaborations
BILLY KLÜVER, PART II (III)
"I mean there is nothing mysterious about this whole process of matching artists and engineers."
HUO: Did Experiments in Art and Technology have a board of directors, or a team of artists and scientists acting as advisers?
BK: Of course, we had to have a board of directors. Rauschenberg was Chairman of the Board and I was president. And we assembled what we called a Council of Agents, individuals from industry, labor, politics, the technical community and the art community who would help us in our projects and activities.
HUO: How did you concretely proceed in order to have these hybrid teams of artists and engineers collaborating on projects?
BK: I mean there is nothing mysterious about this whole process of matching artists and engineers.
There are some things we avoided with E.A.T. We never codified the artist- engineer collaboration in a building or in a separate laboratory environment. That might have helped industry and engineers understand what we were talking about, it could help to educate them. On the other hand when you codify a process like this you turn away artists and turn away creativity. We decided to concentrate on the collaboration between individuals. The artists would work with engineers who were full time in their profession and the industry support would come for these collaborations.
We did not focus exclusively on placing artists in industry. Of course for E.A.T. the backing of the industry was very important. The engineers themselves chose to work on projects with artists that interested them but also we needed recognition from the companies they worked for. And that recognition comes easier today. When we worked with Sennheiser to use their wireless microphones in the upgrade of Oracle this year, the company immediately wrote it up in their newsletter.
As for matchings, we decided that E.A.T. would help everybody. But of course, some projects are more serious than others. Nowadays when people call me it's very easy to separate out the serious artists by a couple of questions. First I ask them "How big is it?" and then they say "well maybe it can be big or it can be small". So I say "is it inside or outside?" And they say "well it can be inside or it can be outside", and then I say "How many people are going to see it, two people or two hundred?" "Well, any number of people can see it..." Then I know that the person doesn't know what they're thinking about, and although I give them technical advice on what to do, I know the project will just slide.
"If I had been really involved in the philosophy, I wouldn't have been able to understand that an engineer had to be an engineer and the artist had to be an artist."
HUO: Are such collaborations between an artist and a scientist predictable?
BK: Of course not; it's totally unpredictable. You never know.
HUO: Everything can happen because nothing has to happen.....
BK: One thing that is predictable is when you are doing something that is new or different, you have to wait: wait for the artist to decide something, wait for a piece of equipment to be built, wait in line to buy a part. You have to ready for this kind of waiting. Then something will happen.
HUO: I have observed that there have been lots of discussion panels and conferences recently in Europe about Art and Science and the outcome has never been really fruitful. And people don't really exchange, everybody just has his or her discourse. We have organized this Art and Brain conference, everything was meticulously planned to not have the conference. The event consisted of coffee breaks.
BK: At Bell laboratories everybody always said that the things happened by meeting somebody in the hallway or at ten o'clock at night somewhere.
"Just listening to Bob Rauschenberg talking about or responding to some of these philosophical ideas, I realized how stupid they were, how ridiculous. It did not have anything to do with what he was doing."
JM (Julie Martin): John Cage summed up the operating idea of E.A.T. when he said, "It's not about artists and engineers talking; it's about hands on, working together".
BK: Yes, the whole philosophy is hands on. It is not about talking. I mean everybody goes out afterwards to have a beer, but first you have to work. As far as the philosophy behind art and science I've gone through it, but it never interested me deeply. If I had been really involved in the philosophy, I wouldn't have been able to understand that an engineer had to be an engineer and the artist had to be an artist. Just listening to Bob Rauschenberg talking about or responding to some of these philosophical ideas, I realized how stupid they were, how ridiculous. It did not have anything to do with what he was doing.
HUO: Could you tell me about the Nehru Foundation project in the late 1960's? The projects in India.
BK: In the late 1960's we got interested in multidisciplinary porjects where the artists could work on a broader social level, outside of purely making art.
In late 1968, Pepsi-Cola asked E.A.T. to design and program a Pavilion for Expo '70 in Osaka, Japan. The original four artists who began the collaborative design of the pavilion were Robert Breer, Robert Whitman, Frosty Myers and David Tudor. As the design of the Pavilion developed, engineers and other artists were added to the project and given responsibility to develop specific elements. All in all 63 engineers, artists and scientists in the United States and Japan contributed to the design of the Pavilion.
So for almost two years we were going back and forth to Japan and had to stop somewhere, so we ended up stopping in India. And, way back in Sweden before I came to the USA I was interested in instructional television, and actually made a film on the Motion of Electrons. The United States was putting an experimental satellite over India, ATS-6, which would be used for educational purposes, so that there could be instructional television programming broadcast direct to the thousands of villages in the countryside. And we met Vikram Sarabhai, who was head of the Indian Atomic Energy Commission, which was responsible for the satellite project. He invited E.A.T. to organize a group of people to make a proposal on how to generate instructional programming for the satellite system. And that is how we ended up in Delhi and Bombay proposing what is now known as the SITE project.
Our group included educational specialists, engineers and an artist, and the subject in this case was about women who owned the milk producing buffaloes at Anand dairy cooperative in Baroda, in Gujurat state. The buffaloes die because they were underfed or the lactation was wrong, or something else would go wrong. The women had to understand the basics so that the buffaloes would survive and provide the maximum milk and wouldn't be slaughtered and sold to Bombay.
We proposed to use half-inch video tape to record what the women actually did with the buffaloes, then take that material and go back to the studio, make a program and then take it back to the villages for testing. This sort of feedback and local involvement with the technology was possible with the new video technology. The people in Bombay and Delhi said "you can't do that" because in those days they had two-inch tape and big air-conditioned studios in Bombay and Delhi and that's where everything was supposed to happen. And nobody learns anything.
The professional television people in Delhi did not think that you could give a camera to a peasant. We knew it was essential in order to find out what they were actually doing with the buffaloes and what the visual clues were that can feed into educational programs. How can somebody who comes from Delhi know about a village thousands of miles away? What we did was to introduce the notion of local aspects of production.
We met the same attitudes in El Salvador where we were invited to devise ways of recording indigenous culture for the educational channels there. These half-inch Sony cameras had recently come on the market. They were heavy, but still you could go out in field with them.
"Whitman describes it perfectly that the artist is the professional who carries with him the least cultural baggage or preconceptions. And this is the kind of openness and responsiveness you want if you end up in that small village in India."
HUO: In how far was this linked to artists?
BK: It was the artist's idea to make full use of 1/2 inch video technology to make what we called "visual research notes" and build educational programming up from local input in the process.
JM: Robert Whitman was part of the team. The whole idea was that artist can be active in projects outside art, in other areas of society.
HUO: Art as an applicable model?
BK: No. Artists as thinkers, as a brain. Whitman describes it perfectly that the artist is the professional who carries with him the least cultural baggage or preconceptions. And this is the kind of openness and responsiveness you want if you end up in that small village in India. That's the whole point. It had nothing to do with any kind of artistic endeavor. In the non-art projects that E.A.T. undertook, at least one artist was part of the interdisciplinary team and we put a high value on the expertise the artist brought to the project.
reproduced from: http://artnode.se/artorbit/issue3/i_kluver/i_kluver2.html
BILLY KLÜVER, PART III (III)
HUO: There were a number of American artists who had a grant to go to India.
BK: E.A.T.'s project of sending artists to India was to expand their vision. We did that with a dozen or so artists, like Trisha Brown, Jed Bark, Yvonne Rainer, Jeffrey Lew, LaMonte Young and Marian Zazeela. We had a grant from the JDR III Fund to ship them there, let them travel and do what they wanted, and then ship them back.
HUO: What did the artists do there?
BK: I have no idea (laughs). The idea wasn't to see what they did. Maybe they were sitting and drinking, I don't know. The point was not to create something. This was the inverse of the buffalo project.
"Bob Rauschenberg and I always said that if E.A.T. was successful it would automatically disappear, because once everybody understands the idea of artists and engineers working together there is no reason for E.A.T. to exist."
HUO: Another project we've not yet spoken about is the Automation House.
BK: Automation House was a building on East 68th street. Theodore Keel, a labor mediator who was involved of the impact of automation on workers, was on the Board of E.A.T. He invited us to have our office there. We held events and exhibitions there, but mainly we used it as office space.
HUO: So it was more like a platform from which you organized the activities.
HUO: Could one say that Experiments in Art and Technology acts as a trigger? A catalyst? Because a catalyst catalyzes something and then disappears, only to reappear to catalyze something else.
BK: Bob Rauschenberg and I always said that if E.A.T. was successful it would automatically disappear, because once everybody understands the idea of artists and engineers working together there is no reason for E.A.T. to exist.
JM: We did the Telex project from Automation House.
BK: That was in 1971. We did "Telex: Q and A" together with Pontus Hulten, who had an exhibition at Moderna Museet on the anniversary of the Paris Commune of 1871, called "Utopia and Visions," and we had telex machines at the museum in Stockholm, at Automation House, at the Design Institute in Ahmedabad India, and at a large public center in Tokyo organized by Fujiko Nakaya for E.A.T.-Tokyo.
People in all four places could telex questions to all other places about what the world would look like in 1981. We gathered answers from both experts and the general public to all the questions and telexed the answers back. Everyone in all four places around the world answered the same questions, and anybody could ask a question to anybody else. And we got the answers to everybody else. This material has not been analyzed.
HUO: So that's a book to be done.
BK: For somebody.
HUO: What were the answers like?
BK: All different. The Indians were very theoretical. The Japanese were extremely positive.
HUO: Where did you send the telexes from?
Julie: We had a telex machine at Automation House. But heavy rains flooded the switching boxes. The only telex office that stayed open at night was on the ground floor of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, so we would we would go there at midnight and send telexes.
"For me personally, I believed that artists could have an influence on television and that it was a medium which artists could use. Not just as experimental television or video, but commercial television."
HUO: Can you tell me about the early projects of Artists and Television? In seems almost incredible that in the history of television there were so few projects accomplished where artists can do TV. Usually TV broadcasts about art but there are very few TV exhibitions. In Germany there is Gary Schume in the late 60s early 70s.
BK: For me personally, I believed that artists could have an influence on television and that it was a medium which artists could use. Not just as experimental television or video, but commercial television. I wanted artists to be involved with broadcast television and with the realities of broadcast television. And when cable television came to New York in the eary 1970s, it seemed to make this a possibility.
BK: I even testified before the FCC on the importance of artists having access to cable channels.
Then we did have a headend at Automation House to originate programming for cable and that was the most interesting part. You could actually feed programs onto the cable public access channels and the idea of Artists and Television was for artists generate programming and feed it into cable. We would have our own television network. As a beginning, we showed video tapes that artists had already made, Les Levine, Lucas Samaras, Richard Serra.
JM:One of the things E.A.T. did was to ask artists to make proposals to produce video tapes for broadcast on cable.
BK: Yes, we actually proposed producing artists' programs to the NEA directly but they turned it down.
The idea is that there were great possibilities, and I think the reason a lot of it didn't happen is that anything like that has to somehow get the interest of enough people to become self-sustaining. I really don't know. Maybe the interest from the artist wasn't enough to carry it. I tend to believe that; an idea like that sounds terrific, but maybe the artists really don't want to get involved with television. Anyway, you try to open the door, and if they don't want to take advantage of the open door there is nothing you can do about it.
"We wanted to go one step farther by using simple technical equipment together with artists to record and make programs about culture that was being lost."
HUO: Another question about television: very early, in the late 1960's, you had ideas about cheaper, more flexible ways of producing television programs. It was in the context of the United Nations when you proposed that super-8 could be used for television. That seems like an incredibly interesting idea in today's context where this becomes reality with digital cameras and very cheap TV can be produced. Can you tell me about this pioneering idea of "do-it- yourself" television?
BK: It came from our experience in India and the "buffalo" project I talked about earlier. In El Salvador it had to do with preserving the culture.
In 1972 the Division of Culture of The Ministry of Education in El Salvador, invited us to develop mobile broadcast television production equipment to travel around the country and record the culture and make programs for the educational channels. The idea is that you use inexpensive recording devices to preserve the local and indigenous culture which is disappearing all over the world. Culture programming is a matter of recording, hearing stories or what have you. We also worked in Guatemala.
We also proposed a project for the celebration of bicentennial of the United States in 1976, called U.S.A. PRESENTS, combining Super -8 production with satellite broadcasting capability in which we would provide Super-8 cameras to individuals and groups all over the United States who would make short 3 minute films of their life and activities which would then be sent to satellite uplink centers and be broadcast to dedicated VHF, UHF or cable channels on a 24-hour basis all year long.
Dr. Wilbur Schramm was the great guy at Stanford University who pioneered instructional television in developing countries. We wanted to go one step farther by using simple technical equipment together with artists to record and make programs about culture that was being lost. For example, one project was to record the Bhai women, a group of woman in Benares, India, like Geishas, who were disappearing. We tried to get funding from the Rockefeller Foundation to go there and simply film them, preserve their music and singing. Ideas like that.
HUO: It was really a presentiment of how now new television shows are invented at a very low cost; people like David d Heillys practices show that in the 90s everybody can do his or her own television program basically.
BK: Right. Then you get into more interesting questions which have to do with editing and how do you use television teach people, which is what Wilbur Schramm was involved with at Stanford. How do you actually present the material so that people actually learn from it.
"All these machines were there and the kids could use them any way they wanted -- type or write messages, send photographs or just talk on the telephone -- and make friends without ever meeting or seeing each other."
HUO: What about the children's projects you did? There are two or three of them, I think.
BK: The project was called "Children and Communication." We thought that children from one part of the city should know children from another part of the city without having to travel out of their own neighborhoods. Of course this could happen any two places between any two cultures, or the kids could be of the same culture with the same background. We collaborated with educational specialists from New York University to shape the project; and Robert Whitman built two environments, one at Automation House and one at Sixteenth Street connected with fax machines, telephones, machines that you could write with a pen on, telex machines. All these machines were there and the kids could use them any way they wanted -- type or write messages, send photographs or just talk on the telephone -- and make friends without ever meeting or seeing each other.
HUO: This sounds like a sketch for connected schools ages before the emergence of the internet!!!!! It is another presentiment.
HUO: Was this published somewhere?
BK: No. Very little has been published. There has been one Ph.D. thesis in the 1970s and now Susan Hillman is working on a thesis on E.A.T.
"I have always thought that museums should have an engineer as a technical curator in charge of pieces with technology, on the level of the other curators."
HUO: I would also like to ask about your relationship to museums. Throughout the 60s you have been very strongly involved with the Moderna Museet in Stockholm...if you could tell me about this and also about your relationship to American museums. It seems that museums are more and more embracing the technological concepts in art, but I can imagine that in the sixties or seventies there was some resistance to these concepts or forms.
BK: There probably isn't a museum in any city I have been in where I haven't been in the cellar or somewhere in the storage place crawling around on the floor. I find it very easy to work in museums; I never find any problem. You have to get the work done. The opening happens and when it happens you have to be ready and everything has to be clean and the labels have to be on the wall. There are always people who are willing to help you if you need it.
There has always been some difficulty doing technical work in a non-technical environment, like a museum. In a museum there is always time pressure and the curtain is going up, the show is going to open. And the works that incorporate technology often fall outside the expertiese of many curators. I have heard this from many artists -- that the curators would be up in arms against technological works because they can't handle them -- it's too complicated, too difficult.
A new generation of curators has to learn how to deal with these works, and that's going to be a challenge, because curators can't really be engineers. At Beaubourg Paris, for instance, they have very good technical guy, Alain Peron, who works freelance with the museum. The Menil Collection in Houston also has an excellent person. I have always thought that museums should have an engineer as a technical curator in charge of pieces with technology, on the level of the other curators. Or perhaps museums you will develop people from the outside who can consult so to speak.
"I don't see the museum as a producer of pieces. But they have a responsibility to show, maintain and conserve work that incorporates new technology."
HUO: Besides the Moderna Museet, have you worked with American museums in the production of works or have they been a place where the completed pieces have been exhibited. Can the museum be a producer of such things?
BK: I don't see the museum as a producer of pieces. But they have a responsibility to show, maintain and conserve work that incorporates new technology.~
August 3, 1998
above reproduced from: http://artnode.se/artorbit/issue3/i_kluver/i_kluver3.html