Experimental Collectivities, Collaborations, and (Dis)embodied Digital Experiences
Hemispheric Institute GSI Convergence 2017 – Unsettling the Americas: Radical Hospitalities and Intimate Geographies
Artscape Youngplace, Toronto, Ontario.
October 5-8, 2017
This workshop was organized by Santiago Tavera in collaboration with New York based artist and performer, Candace Thompson.
The workshop generated a social collaboration between participants working towards conflict resolutions between collective and subjective narratives, our histories, and our illusions of the future. Using collaboratively created ritual we established an experimental environment for embodied and disembodied media making. The use of digital media presents the potential to simulate a state of disembodiment (elasticity, translation…), allowing for the alteration of participants’ senses, while pushing the boundaries of their perceptual thresholds and understanding of space, selves, and others. Questions of location and displacement, migration and transience, cultural heirlooms, trauma, and personal narratives—both real and imagined—can be brought to bear in creating work which integrates audio and video recording techniques, live-feed cameras, analog technologies, projection mapping, AR, installation, and performance.
During the Elastic Spaces Third International Symposium at Bath Spa University, Santiago Tavera, Ana Ferguson, Francisco Gonzalez and Philippe Battikha collaborated on a VR live broadcast session titled, Virtual Narratives of Dislocation. Together they constructed a virtual environment that simulates experiences of multimedia dislocation. This interdisciplinary project investigates notions of digital re-presentation, virtual translation, cultural narratives, media illusion and spatialized sound. The project consists of using the Orah 4i- 360° camera to digitally broadcast live an audiovisual immersive installation from the Newton Park Campus at Bath Spa University, UK. Participants at the conference were invited to be part of this work during the two hour session by entering the space to experience it but also to look at it through their mobiles devices. One as a 360° video to be navigated by scrolling the video image to every side. The second method of viewing the work using participant’s phones was by using a google cardboard head sets to experience the work as VR. Seeing themselves being and seeing all at once. In its entirety, the project combines narratives of belonging and displacement with experimental VR and digital techniques to forge an intersection between personal experiences of dislocation, the construction and experiencing of virtual environments and the narratives that emerge within them.
On June 21st The Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal hosted a talk with Graeme Ferguson and Janine Marchessault as part of their In Search of Expo 67 exhibition. Unfortunately Graeme was unable to attend the talk and his son Munro Ferguson, amember of the Elastic Spaces network, spoke on his behalf. As such, the talk discussed Ferguson’s co-creation of the IMAX cinematic experience as we know it today, as well as the documentary film Polar Life (1967) shot and directed by Ferguson himself, and first exhibited at the Expo 67 the “Man the Explorer” pavilion. In its exhibition, Polar Life debut as a multi-screen work consisting of eleven stationary screens arranged into a circle. Inside the circle of screens housed four theatres were positioned on a 360 degree rotating platform. The apparatus served as a way for the viewers to experience all eleven screens. In its creation, Polar Life was unique in its sensitivity to the viewer, and as suchit worked to not overwhelm its spectators.
Polar Life is also considered to be a “cinema verite” work, as it was shot intuitively, unscripted and sought to capture the life and culture of the locals within the Canadian North, Alaska, Lapland, and Siberia. As Ferguson suggested, the 360 degree rotating axis also served as a metaphor for the North and South pole, as well as the circle of life.
Marchessault and Ferguson then discussed the idea of the multi-screen format as a medium itself. As such, Ferguson stated that the multi-screen format is in a sense a form of visual or cinematic poetry, largely because within the space between two screens, a metaphorical image is created by the viewer. As Ferguson, also suggested, multi-screen projections appeared as the beginnings of immersive experiences.
This May- June marked the 4th edition of the IX Immersion, Experience, Embodied Spaces Symposium at Montreal’s own SAT. The symposium focussed on the idea and application of “embodied spaces”, interactivity, “live” VR, VR auteurship, mixed reality, the hyper sensorial body and body responsive technologies.
As a whole, the symposium concentrated primarily on industry and technical components of VR, this focus on the technical served to demonstrate how VR can be applied into “real world” experiences such as architecture and design, as well as applications within health and science spheres. The daytime events were workshops, presentations and organized talks with guest speakers, as well as installations that were positioned throughout the symposium that highlighted VR artworks. Closing each day were a series of performances of multichannel audio and visual works made by the symposium presenters in the SAT dome.
Approaching the lines of artistry was the concept of “VR Auteurship”, a concept seemingly founded by Felix and Paul Studio. As such, the framework within their studio approaches VR as cinematic experiences, and therefore follows many cinematic conventions such as the idea of the auteur. For Felix and Paul, VR serves as a tool to “break the wall” of the two streams of reality apparent within the cinematic apparatus. In the formation of their auteurship, Felix and Paul are admittedly influenced by filmmaker Yasujirō Ozu.
The demos “I am Afraid” by Maria Lantin and “Immersio” by Collectif Immersio were particularly dynamic, in their overt focus on the senses.I am Afraid, is an interactive visual interface used to explore the performative aspects of sound. Participants were invited to create poetic soundscapes by layering and deconstructing Lantin’s collection of words and sounds. Immersio presented itself as a hyper visual “ride”, often travelling via vortexes, its participants were thrown into ever-changing fast paced environments wherein the participants sense of gravity was frequently inverted.
A large proportion of this year’s symposium participants were men and professional members of the artistic community. Of note, Ghislaine Boddington was nominated as the best artist of the symposium for her work, talk and workshop using the audience as performers in her presentation of Body Data Space.
Anthony Head (Bath, UK) and Santiago Tavera (Montreal, QC) attended one of the world’s most prominent international arts and technology events, the International Symposium on Electronic Art (ISEA). This years ISEA aligned with the XVI International Image Festival of Manizales in Colombia from the 11th to the 18th of June. Head and Tavera organized an experimental and interactive workshop titled, Projected Narratives of Being and Belonging, in collaboration with Colombian and Canadian artist, Laura Acosta.
The workshop invited interdisciplinary artists to collaborate on an multiple video projection installation in La Universidad de Caldas. Over 20 participants combined fictional and personal narratives of belonging or displacement along with video experimentation. The workshop brought together scholars and artists to an interdisciplinary discussion and showcase of creative productions applying new technologies in art. This year’s conference theme, Bio-creation and Peace, encouraged participants to reflect on the contributions and alternatives that art, design and technology provide for social development, biodiversity and the establishment of peaceful relationships between diverse communities. The workshop Projected Narratives of Being and Belonging generated social collaboration between participants in order to work towards conflict resolutions between heritage surfaces and subjective narratives, past histories and illusions of the future, and finally, effects of war and visions of peace.
Furthermore Tavera had the opportunity to give an artist talk on his creative-research, Translational Spaces which will also be published in the upcoming ISEA 2017 special issues in the Virtual Creativity Journal, Intellect Books later this year.
Anthony Head (Bath, UK) and Santiago Tavera (Montreal, QC) attended the Besides the Screen conference, in Vitoria, Brazil from May 31st to June 2nd. This year’s conference theme was Unfolding Images: VR, Volumetric Cinema and Space Control, where Head and Tavera had the opportunity to present the Elastic Spaces lab to an international crowd, as well as their personal projects. Head presented SPHERE, a Sensor Platform for Healthcare in a Residential Environment project developed in the UK. Tavera had the opportunity to present his work, Translational Spaces, which he also exhibited at the Galeria de Arte e Pesquisa – UFES throughout the duration of the conference.
Besides the Screen is an international research network that aims to reconfigure the field of screen studies within art. This conference brings together artists and academics that explore digital art to frame growing trends in spatialized image art projects, addressing the new possibilities of digital technologies. Head and Tavera’s participation at this conference, allowed them to engage in conversations about the potential of digital media to expand our perception of space and the moving image. The proceedings of the Besides the Screen 2017 conference will be published in the fall of 2017, which will include an essay on Projected Narratives of Being and Belonging.
As her demo for the IX “Embodied Spaces” Symposium hosted by Montreal’s SAT, Maria Lantin invited participants to perform within a visceral virtual world of visual and audible poetry. As part of the experience, participants were invited to create their own poetic musings and or performative soundscapes via the ability to reconstruct Lantin’s words using loops, layering techniques as well as the ability to visually reconfigure the space. By allowing one-three participants at a time while exploring sentiments of fear, empathy and vulnerability, I Am Afraid enables a sense of play, collectivity and poetic consciousness within its participants
I Am Afraid has also been presented in New York, NY for “AR in Action”, June 6-7, 2017 (ARinAction.org)
“CVR Conference Performance Vancouver”, Vancouver BC , May 5-7, 2017 (consumer-vr.com)
As speculative practices accelerate urban transformation, the city adorns itself in images of what it is to become in the future. This future never fully attained leaves these images lingering and fading, dissolving into a ruptured matrix of urban decay and unfinished potential. Rather than reflecting on what architecture could be I reflect on what the future is becoming: faded imprints of spectacular promises.
Dissolving futures explores the future of architecture as it dissolves into the present. It documents the transformation of abandoned buildings and vacant lots, empty premises, into future promises. It presents the replacement of the architecture of the shared public space of the street with a spectacle of speculation as a veil of digitally rendered representation between the lived street-space and the abstract machinations of investment and real estate.
This is an ongoing project started more than ten years ago while photographing the advertising on hoardings and posters around building sites in Berlin. Over a thousand photos from over twenty cities and from four continents have been taken since. One hundred of these have been (so far) selected to be used. The project will take the form an installation with the images projected in a continuous dissolve sequence in the exhibition space.
The first presentation of this project will take place at the Architecture after the Future symposium at the Haus der Architektur, Graz, Austria, opening on June 23, 2017
This website presents Elastic 3D Space, the international research exploring art practices in relation to human movement, from body movements to human migration. Elastic Space is exploring this theme through technological media such as stereoscopy including 3D video, VR and AR and related technologies, as well older media approaches. It takes the projected or tv screen as a given and looks at the space behind and in front of it, in order to research artistic and social possibilities when technical considerations are no longer a barrier.