Up until the 20th century, the production of art was, by and large, a dialogue between the artist and the work they were creating. With its emphasis on new media such as video games, virtual worlds and the Internet - collectively called new media - contemporary art broadens the field within which artists create. Long gone are the days, new media artists suggest, when a painter works alone in a room with a brush and canvas or a sculptor with stone. Today contemporary artists collaborate with experts in various fields, from computer scientists to biotechnologists - thus turning creators into "project managers" - to create works that take into account the museumgoers' entire sensory experience.
One of the first artist collectives to promote this sensibility was V2_Institute for Unstable Media, an interdisciplinary center for research and development in the field of art and media technology. Founded in 1981 by a group of multimedia artists, the institute explores the relationship and interaction between art, technology, media and society. It seems natural, then, that the theoretical underpinnings of the installations in MOCA, Taipei's current exhibition, curated by V2's artistic director Alex Adriaansens, are steeped in contemporary thought about technology and its effect on society.
Like the exhibit's title suggests, interaction is a key theme that runs throughout the exhibition. Zachery Liberman's Drawn epitomizes this ethos by using software to transform pictures drawn on paper by participants - who thereby become artists - onto a screen. The participants then manipulate the images on the screen where the created image moves and changes shape. Viewers are placed in a position where they decide if they want to become creators, directors or supervisors of their work or the works of others.
What: Zone_V2_Unstable Media: Act - Interact
Where: Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA),
39 Changan E Rd, Taipei (台北市長安西路39號)
When: Through Oct. 7
Admission: NT$50; free for the disabled and children under six
Similar to Liberman's installation, Pockets Full of Memories by George Legrady has the public contribute an image of an object in their possession to an archive that grows throughout the duration of the exhibition. An algorithm is then used to sort the objects into a two-dimensional matrix that is projected onto the museum wall according to the similarities defined by the contributor's semantic descriptions. The data is also accessible on the Internet (www.pocketfullofmemories.net).
Like the manipulation of images, Marnix de Jijs' Beijing Accelerator plays a game with the physical and visual perception of speed and acceleration. This he does by sitting a participant in a racing chair that is mounted on a motorized structure equipped with a joystick. A screen is positioned a meter or so in front of the user and while they control both the direction and speed of the chair images of Beijing are projected onto the screen. If the user cannot synchronize the speed of the chair with the moving images, her balance system will send different information to the brain than the eyes resulting in a feeling of discomfort.
Discomfort is precisely what one feels when playing //////////fur//// art entertainment interfaces' PainStation - Enhanced Dueling Artefact. Based on the video table tennis game Pong, players rest their left hand on a sensor field - known as Pain Execution Unit - and are tormented by extreme heat, electrical shocks and lashes of a whip if they miss the ball. The first player who fails to withstand the pain - one young female participant shrieked loudly when whipped - loses the game. In the words of its creators, "Pong has lost its innocence, just like the players of PainStation."