Art(ists) on the Verge: New Media Artists at the Soap Factory in Minneapolis through April 15

I was fortunate to meet the young and talented new media artists whose works are on iew currently  “Art(ists) on the Verge”  (through April 15) at the Soap Factory in Minneapolis.  Don’t miss this show if you have a chance to see it.  My short essays about “Art(sits) on the Verge” (through April 15) should be published soon online and when they are published I will link to them here. Until then, here’s a taste of the show. I think this is a world-class interactive media exhibition. For me, it was new to see artists using  “gestural interface” technology that many of us know from game systems like Xbox 360 and Wii.

“Art(ists) on the Verge” is a program created by curator and media theorist Steve Dietz to support the work of new media artists.  Dietz worked with artist Piotr Szyhalski to curate this show.

Drew Anderson, Near the Ghosts of Sugarloaf.

Drew Anderson’s installation Near the Ghosts of Sugarloaf is a puppet theater and landscape panorama (made of branches and twigs). It is a  platform stage for  a mechanical hunter-puppet with a camera for eyes that moves around in the miniature forest.

Drew Anderson’s installation. Detail of puppet hunter in the woods.

To participate in this installation, viewers pick up a rifle accessory and use it as a projector. This accessory projects onto the walls of the gallery the camera feed from the puppet’s camera eyes. This makes the viewer and the puppet merge.

Caly McMorrow, Status Update, audio and light installation that records the voices of participants and create an audio collage and uses light to mark the movement through space of the sound of individual voices.

Caly McMorrow’s Status Update  is a transparent sound and light chamber installed  in a shadowy corner of the Soap Factory’s cavernous gallery. Participants activate the spiraling structure, setting off a cascade of sound and light, by speaking into the antique telephone receiver at its center.

Participants using the phone in Status Update.

Participants using the phone in Status Update.

The documentation photo above taken at the opening of “Art(sits) on the Verge,” suggests that these participants–born in the age of cell phone use–may never has seen a phone like this one before.

Mike Hoyt, Poho Posit. This installation focuses on the urban neighborhood where the artist lives: Powderhorn Park in Minneapolis.

Mike Hoyt’s Poho Posit draws on the stories he reads on the e-democracy online discussion forum used in his neighborhood to share information and discuss community issues. Typical online reports: “Keep your eyes open: burglar spotted at 31st and Bloomington! Description: Male Caucasian—6 feet 2 inches.” “Someone took my garbage container from the alley behind my house.” “Our home was vandalized this evening shortly before 8:00.” One neighbor’s experience is instantly communicated to all.

Hoyt visits the sites in his neighborhood he has read about on the discussion forum, then he makes drawings which he animates, that represent the events as he sees them in his mind. The animations are very understated and low-tech. The video below shows Hoyt’s recreation of an incident of graffiti vandalism he read about on the forum.

Hoyt posts these understated video animation based on drawing onto the discussion forum for his neighbors to see. He post QR code links to his videos as well on the spot where the action took place. Anyone can scan the code with their smartphone and go right to the animation.  To see more of Hoyt’s animations click here.

Aaron Westre, City Fight!

Aaron Westre, City Fight! A video game and spectacle the artist designed around the idea of city planning represented as a chaotic and cut-throught process.

Artist Aaron Westre uses Microsoft’s popular Kinect controller, the motion-sensing input device for the Xbox 360 video game console, to power City Fight!, his interactive installation on the theme of urban development.

Participants raise their hands in front of the screen and the Kinect controller and the installation sensors link with their bodies. When the installation couples with the viewer it begins to shoot balls (that represent valuable urban property) onto the screen and participants/viewers fight over these game pieces with their virtual game paddle hands. Knock a property to your side and your city grows and thrives; lose it to your opponent and weep at your diminished symbolic wealth and prestige.

Aaron Westre, City Fight!

Anthony Tran’s Wire less focuses on representing the idea of the transmission and reception of the invisible radiation that circulates around and through the viewers bodies. In the age of wireless, we carry lots of electronics which change our electromagnetic field of our bodies. Tran uses sensors and projectors and software to read the radiation around the viewers’ bodies and to maps images onto them. The installation shots of this installation are beautiful. I’ll close with of these.

Anthony Tran, Wire less. This installation uses antennas to sense radiation emanating from viewers’ bodies and uses software to map images onto or around their bodies. Here the viewers body is a screen (only the body, not the space around it).

Anthony Tran, Wire less. Installation shot.

Anthony Tran, Wire less. Installation shot.

Anthony Tran, Wire less. This shot show the way that the installation projects images around the body (not on it) to represent the idea of radiation emanating from the body.

About Patricia Briggs
Patricia Briggs is the director of galleries and curator of exhibitions at Jamestown Community College in Western New York. She writes the blog "Scene Unseen: Viewing Notes" about visual art in her community.

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