Thu, Nov 22, 2007 - Page 15 News List

ART JOURNAL》Digital artwork lights up Taipei

The works on display at this festival required, in some cases, a PhD in engineering or computer science to create

By Noah Buchan  /  STAFF REPORTER

The second Digital Art Festival in Taipei showcases high-tech work that's fun and easy to manipulate.


G raffiti artists need fear the law no longer - at least that's the word on the street in New York. Two artists versed in "tagging" have come up with a state-of-the-art computer program that enables graffiti writers to replace spray paint with light using a camera, laptop and projector. Combined, artists can project graffiti onto the side of a building. And in the spirit of the creator's open-source ethos, the code for the program, L.A.S.E.R. Tag, is posted online for enthusiasts and artists to "download, dissect, reuse and hopefully improve," according to Graffiti Research Lab's (GRL) Web site (

GRL's program is one of the many creations going on display tomorrow as part of Openplay Digital Art Festival in Taipei that runs until Dec. 2 at the Red House Theater (紅樓劇場) in Ximending (西門町).

The participating artists are known as much for their technological prowess as they are for their art. Many of the projects began as research and were then developed into art or, in some cases, for commercial use. And although it required considerable technical skill to create the works - some of the artists have PhDs in computer science or engineering - the creations are relatively simple to understand and manipulate.

For Valentina Vuksic's installation, Harddisko, the artist gathered 16 defective PC hard disks, removed the casings and connected them to a sound mixer using simple electric circuits. As soon as the power is turned on, the disks move in specific patterns and generate sound. The result can be compared to an orchestra of various instruments.

Like Harddisko, Interactive Sonic Systems' ReacTable is a digital musical instrument. It consists of a round table set with illuminated plastic picture tiles. Each one generates a specific sound or modifies sound in some way. Visitors play it by arranging and rearranging the tiles, producing a variety of sounds. The ReacTable also provides visual feedback on the table.

Festival notes

What: Openplay Digital Art Festival Taipei


When: Tomorrow through Dec. 2; open daily from 2pm until 9pm (to 10pm on Friday and Saturday)

Where: Red House Theater (紅樓劇場), 10 Chengdu Rd, Taipei (台北市成都路10號)

On the Net: For a complete list of performance times and other information, visit the festival's bilingual Web site at

Instead of playing with sound, Alvaro Cassinelli's The Khronos Projector allows viewers to explore prerecorded movie content in new ways. Rather than viewing a movie chronologically, the user is able to send parts of the image forward or backward in time by touching the projection screen. For example, the image of a daytime cityscape becomes, at the point where the hand or finger moves along the surface of the screen, dusk and eventually evening. As soon as the viewer's hand is lifted, the screen returns to the daytime scene.

The Robotic Chair by Canadian artists Raffaello d'Andrea, Max Dean and Matt Donovan, falls apart and puts itself back together. Watching the wooden, classroom chair spontaneously fall apart and gradually reassemble itself is a surreal experience, and seems to be a statement about the ability of humans to do the same.

Contemporary art, it would seem, has split into two parts: that which is looked at and contemplated and that which is played with and manipulated. The works at the second Digital Art Festival fall into the latter category and visitors should be fascinated, regardless of what their definition of art is.

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