SHIFT Electronic Arts Festival Basel 2009 on VernissageTV

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For those who missed the recent SHIFT Electronic Arts Festival in Basel, VernissageTV put together a video compiling installation footage from the exhibition segment of the event, which included AIDS-3D, Craig Baldwin, Zoe Beloff, Lindsay Brown, Erik Bünger, Jim Campbell, Center for Tactical Magic, Susan Collins, Bill Domonkos, The Einstein's Brain Project, F18, Atelier Hauert/Reichmuth/Boehm, Christoph Keller, Julien Maire, Tatjana Marusic, Jane D. Marsching, Shusha Niederberger, Ruth Sergel, Harm van den Dorpel, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, and Patrick Ward. The theme for this year was “Magic. Tech-Evocations and Assumptions of Paranormal Realities.” In the clip, keep an eye out for F18’s robotic installation Living Kitchen - Happy End of the 21st Century (2006) which transforms a suburban kitchen into a scene reminiscent of Poltergeist.

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Text Rain (1999) - Cammille Utterback and Romy Achituv

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"Text Rain is an interactive installation in which participants use the familiar instrument of their bodies, to do what seems magical—to lift and play with falling letters that do not really exist. In the Text Rain installation participants stand or move in front of a large projection screen. On the screen they see a mirrored video projection of themselves in black and white, combined with a color animation of falling letters. Like rain or snow, the letters appears to land on participants' heads and arms. The letters respond to the participants' motions and can be caught, lifted, and then let fall again. The falling text will 'land' on anything darker than a certain threshold, and 'fall' whenever that obstacle is removed. If a participant accumulates enough letters along their outstretched arms, or along the silhouette of any dark object, they can sometimes catch an entire word, or even a phrase. The falling letters are not random, but form lines of a poem about bodies and language. 'Reading' the phrases in the Text Rain installation becomes a physical as well as a cerebral endeavor."

-- FROM THE ARTIST'S DESCRIPTION

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Solo performance of Ellen Fullman presented by KRAAK, Gent, Belgium, 2005

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In 1981 I began developing the “Long String Instrument,” in which rosin-coated fingers brush across dozens of metallic strings, fifty or more feet in length and installed in a performance space. Listening to the instrument has been compared to the experience of standing inside an enormous grand piano.

The instrument is acoustic. Wooden box resonators are mounted on a wall and twenty to thirty strings terminate into each resonator soundboard. Performers walk between pathways of strings suspended at waist-height. The instrument is played by “bowing” with rosined fingertips while walking. A uniquely designed brass capo on each wire changes the vibrating string length much as a capo on a guitar. Tuned in just intonation, the pitch range is determined by length: A4 (440 Hz, open A string on the violin) requires eight meters in length. Every octave lower requires a doubling of length. These enormous lengths are required when strings are excited in the longitudinal mode, or played by “bowing” lengthwise.

My music explores natural tunings based on the physics of vibrating strings. Through observation, I have determined that there is an optimal “bowing” speed in which string speaks most clearly in the longitudinal mode, presumably based on a relationship to the speed of the wave moving through the material. In the late 1980s I conceived of a graphic notation system that still functions as the basis for scoring my work, where timing and coordination of parts are determined by distance walked. Numbers placed on the floor at metric intervals are used as reference points indicated in the score. Transitions can be coordinated based on the time it takes to arrive at predetermined locations, thereby “choreographing” repeatable events to occur at specific locations. Strings vibrate in mathematical subdivisions of the total string length. When passing over the harmonic nodes of ...

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auf drei (2005) - Florian Tuercke

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8 piano-strings, tuned in c-major, length: 26,25 ft, three resonance-bodies: pine, maple

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Playing the Building (2008) - David Byrne

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(Source for image and video: Creative Time)


Creative Time presents Playing the Building, a 9,000-square-foot, interactive, site-specific installation by renowned artist David Byrne. The artist transforms the interior of the landmark Battery Maritime Building in Lower Manhattan into a massive sound sculpture that all visitors are invited to sit and “play.” The project consists of a retrofitted antique organ, placed in the center of the building's cavernous second-floor gallery, that controls a series of devices attached to its structural features—metal beams, plumbing, electrical conduits, and heating and water pipes. These machines vibrate, strike, and blow across the building’s elements, triggering unique harmonics and producing finely tuned sounds.

-- FROM THE DESCRIPTION FOR CREATIVE TIME'S PRESENTATION OF "PLAYING THE BUILDING" BY DAVID BYRNE

Note: Last year, Justin Downs wrote an article for Rhizome which outlined the design and fabrication of this project. Read it here.

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A Small Migration (2004) - Shawn Decker

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A Small Migration was a piece first presented as part of the show “Sonic Differences” which was a part of the Biennial of Electronic Art Perth, in 2004. This work is a direct extension of my previous “physical” installations, with this project extending both the scale and complexity of my previous installations, as well as the nature and complexity of my work with hybrid physical/computational systems.

A Small Migration consists of many piano wires strung roughly 8 or 9 feet above the ground across an open gallery or public space. The wires are fixed at the ends with tuning blocks, so that the walls of the gallery then act as a “sounding board” for the piece. Normally these would be attached to the Gallery Walls, but as the Moores Building in Freemantle, where the exhibition was held, is an historic building, the walls were off-limits, so instead, a scaffold-like structure was built supporting the tuning blocks from above.

Wires are stung in parallel, and roughly 3 inches apart, and as long as 30 or 40 feet (depending on the space available). Small motors tap each wire with a striker attached to the shaft of the motor, causing sound. Each motor is sent a series of short electrical pulses by the micro-controller, causing it to strike the wire, which creates a disturbance that generates sound and also visibly shakes the wire. The rhythmic patterns used are those found in nature, and are constantly accelerating and decelerating and are derived from indeterminate processes such as 1/f noise algorithms. The installation contains a great many wires and motors (variable given the space) —the number in this installation being 32 wires and motors.

-- FROM THE ARTIST'S STATEMENT

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Corporate Culture

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"Contact," the most recent exhibition by the group Art Business Consulting, featured a rocket ship built from computer hardware, with a trio of yuppies floating weightlessly on a video screen inside. The trappings and denizens of the office have figured in ABC's work since Mikhail Kosoplapov, Maxim Ilyukhin, and Natalia Struchkova formed the group in 2001, and as in "Contact," they have always been subject to some sort of disfigurement. Early on, ABC established a pseudo-corporate identity by showing up at art openings in expensive cars and nice suits, performing the role of Russia's nascent upper-middle class while their colleagues in the Moscow boheme were riding public transport in sweaters and jeans. To solidify that image, ABC made good on their name's promise of "business"--in 2004, they became dealers, selling the work of artists they liked at ABC Gallery. Change happens quickly in Moscow; now that the market has dwarfed institutional influence in Russia's art world, linking the words "art" and "business" doesn't feel as novel as it did in 2001, and Western-style corporate culture has lost the cachet of an exotic interloper. ABC's symbolic launch of the office into space in "Contact" came on the heels of the loss of their own office space; at the end of May, the arts complex where ABC Gallery was located shut down to make room for a new development. While Ilyukhin, Kosolapov, and Struchkova continue to work as artists, businesspeople, and consultants, the events of last summer seem to mark a turning point, a time for reflecting on the future of a project initiated to document social change now that those changes are entrenched.

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Video Takeover

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Borna Sammak's debut solo show "Best Buy" took place last night for an exclusive two hour stint in the Soho location of electronics mega-retailer Best Buy. Thirteen of his vibrant and hallucinogenic high-definition "video paintings" were displayed on every single television on the lower level floor, making for an incredible (and gloriously surreal) sight. I snapped a few photos of the installation, below. To read the full backstory behind the show, check this interview with Borna Sammak and curator Thomas McDonell, conducted by artist Kari Altmann.

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Constellation (2006) - Chu Yun

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Abandon Normal Devices (AND) Festival Report

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Image: Abandon Normal Devices logo

The debut Abandon Normal Devices (AND) launched in the North West of England, 23rd -27th September 2009. The inaugural festival was centred in the city of Liverpool with satellite events taking place in Manchester. AND, a collaboration between FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology) in Liverpool, folly in Lancaster and Cornerhouse in Manchester positions itself as a mixture of new cinema, digital culture and media art, showcasing work in partnership with galleries, venues and public spaces around the city. Over five days, the festival featured a broad array of conferences, talks, exhibitions, screenings, performances and online works, with artists and practitioners from a wide range of backgrounds including, The Yes Men, MARIN (Media Art Research Interdisciplinary Network), Blast Theory, DJ Spooky and Michael Connor. FACT acted as the central hub for the festival and hosted the majority of screenings, talks and events; it also celebrated its 20-year anniversary on the opening night.

In line with its snappy title, the festival set out to discard all that is typical, regular or average, seeking to question normality in an array of forms. There was a particular focus on exploring disruption to traditional methods of production and distribution in cinema and media art. Interfering and interrupting the familiar and ordinary were played out in public space, on screen and through performance.

The festival opened with a new performance/lecture by Carolee Schneemann, renowned for her performance work of the 60’s and 70’s that challenged the normalised perceptions of the body, sexuality and gender. In a work which took the format of a lecture, titled Mysteries of the Iconographies, Schneemann went on a journey through the creative products of her life from early childhood drawings, through painting, to performance and video installation. The performance was accompanied ...

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