Sometimes when you get very, very close to someone elses’ eye, and focus on the reflections gliding on the surface, you can reach a certain hovering point where the eye-life gets all slithery and magnified. As though you’ve become privy to some secret pondlife choreography. If you’re reading this on a bus, or in a cafe, it’s important for your inner artist, and your inner scientist, to try this immediately on someone nearby. Delve deep enough, and you might find yourself profiled by Stephen Wilson at one point, author of Information Arts: Intersections of art, science, technology (MIT Press ).
Mapping the New Media Constellations
Key to Stephen’s book is the idea that the technological imagination and scientific inquiry is ‘a kind of poetry, weaving of ideas and sculpture of matter to create new possibilities’. What you get then, in a majestic 943 paged sprawl, is a seriously comprehensive mapping of the ways artists are exploring science and technology – a breakdown of various scientific disciplines, discussion of relevant theories, a huge resource list, and the bulk of it snapshotting artist projects from all over the globe. bookinofarts.small.gif
Art-kids delving deeper with the likes of ‘Biology, microbiology, animals and plants, ecology, medicine and the body, physics, non-linear systems, nanotechnology, materials science, geology, astronomy, space science, global positioning systems and cosmology, algorithms, mathematics, fractals, genetic art and artificial life, kinetics, Sound Installations & Robotics, telecommunications and Digital Information Systems / Computers’. And each of these headings of maps an even more intricate listing of weird-science topics. Check the crazy links list if you’re curious: http://online.sfsu.edu/~infoarts/links/wilson.artlinks2.html
Strike a (New Media) Pose
Artists experimenting with science and technology tend to take things down the garden path, lefter than left field. Tis dizzying to peruse this book and take in the diversity and weirdness of artists out there tweaking machines, and our ideas of what can be done. Even a quick flick through the book, will put you in touch with mice bred to eat computer cables ( Uli Winters rewarded mice that ate cables, and selectively bred them), transgenic dogs created with green flouroscent protein ( Eduardo Kac ), a robotic tree that moves at the pace of plants ( Bruce Cannon ), VR recreations of our earliest known cave paintings (Ben Britton ), face analysis and emotion recognition ( Jeff Cohn ),self-flying robot-copters ( Jim Montgomery), living sculptures ( Yves Amu Klein’s Octofungi) GPS soundmapping experiments (Ian Mott), Lightning Field sculptures ( Walter De Maria), Orlan’s plastic surgery reconstruction to mimic traditional paintings, living mouse cell sculptures ( Oron Catts ) and so much more.
Along The Way
As well as delivering a great overview of fascinating and provocative sci-tech artists, Info_Arts also provides insight into the issues these artists deal with, be they ethical dilemnas, worries about societal implications of their work, or on a practical level – problems such as the diffculties of working at the atomic level, pattern finding within ecosytems and natural processes and extending the conventional interface of mouse and keyboard to include other ways of body and data interaction.
All in all – if you’re interested in carving an electronic arts niche of some sort, and want to build on the shoulders of those who’ve wandered before you, this is a fantastic resource – either for your shelf, or to order in at your local library.