Top 2 images: Bedlam
Bottom 3 images: Wind Array Cascade Machine
The sound, image, or message transmitted or received in telegraphy, telephony,
radio, television, or radar.
We receive signals,
they pass through and around us - some undetected, others indiscriminately
assimilated or consciously ignored - informing and shaping our electronically
mediated worldview. Technological advances in electronic communication
networks enable one to enter the habitat of endangered species in Africa
via webcams or witness presidential palaces destroyed by "smart bombs"
in real time, CNN-itized with a slick 3D graphical interface. Far removed
from decimated dictators and vanishing exotic species, how do we perceive
these transmitted representations of remote events and behaviours? Is
technology facilitating our world knowledge by removing spatial boundaries
or does the promise of "real-time" experience only lead to more
uncertainty when reality can be digitally augmented to suit global infotainment
standards or personal agendas?
With its geographic
immensity, relative remoteness, advanced telecommunications and artist-run
centre infrastructure, Canada has always been at the forefront of the
international tele-art movement. As early as the 1970's artists were using
telephones, faxes, radio, television, computers, and satellites to explore
and question our ambiguous relationship with machines and communication
From 1978 to 1982 Worldpool, a Toronto artist collective founded
by Judith Doyle and Fred Gaysek, were dedicated to using emerging telecommunications
technologies such as slow-scan video transmission, proto-fax machines
and early portable computers to create art and initiate international
I.P.Sharp Associates (IPSA), an APL timesharing system, owned a sophisticated,
international computer network with local dial-in connection to the central
computers in Toronto from most major industrial cities. Costs were not
related to distance, which made exchanges between artists in various parts
of the world possible.
Probably the first use of IPSA for an artists' communications project
was Interplay, a computer communications project organised in 1979
by Bill Bartlett for the Computer Culture conference in Toronto.
Bartlett contacted artists in 12 cities in Canada, U.S.A., Australia,
Japan and Austria and arranged for the local IPSA offices to provide them
with free accounts and technical assistance. Interplay was an on-line
chat that resulted in printouts that scrolled from computer terminal printers
around the world. Robert Adrian, a Toronto born Austrian based artist
who organised the Vienna location comments on the rationale behind early
artist networking projects, One of the motivations for artists to
work with telecommunications was the growing awareness that political,
military, commercial and financial power was migrating to communications
networks. Penetration of these networks by artists could perhaps make
them visible and maybe even begin to map their growing social and cultural
In 1983 Robert Adrian and Hank Bull organized WIENCOUVER IV a 3 hour exchange
of sound and image SSTV (slow scan television) between the ÖKS in
Vienna and the Western Front artist
run centre in Vancouver an experiment in two way interactive television.
One of the earliest works of Telerobotic Art was Telephonic Arm Wrestling
by Norman White and Doug Back. White, who began making robots in the early
1970s and was a pioneer of Telematic Art, explained that, "the idea
was to allow contestants in two different cities to arm-wrestle, using
motorized force-transmitting systems interconnected by a telephone data
link."2 Telephonic Arm Wrestling was first
succcessfully exhibited during a 1986 link-up between the Canadian Cultural
Centre, Paris, and the Artculture Resource Centre, Toronto.
In 1985 at Torontos A Space
Gallery Norman White launched Heresay, a one day international collaborative
art project using network technology. A message originating from Toronto
was sent around the world in 24 hours, roughly following the sun, via
a global computer network. In each of the participating eight cities the
message was received in one language, translated and sent in another until
the final message was sent back to its place of origin.
Steve Mann is a University of Toronto professor who has been working on
his WearComp (wearable computing technology) since the 1970s.
In 1994 Steve Mann invented the worlds first wearable wireless webcam.
The net connected WearCam, records and feeds images to a remote
server from a wearable computer and imaging system thus allowing the web
audience to experience his daily activities in real-time.
Throughout the 90s Canadian artists continued to expand on the creative
use of telecommunications technologies beyond text/sound/image by utilising
the internet to manipulate remote objects. From Nancy Pattersons
Skirt to Rafael Lozano-Hemmers Vectorial
Elevation artists extended their ideas into a more social space where
remote mediated actions held physical consequences.
an exhibition of two projects that electronically record and transmit
behaviours and natural processes over network cabling in order to explore
notions of time, space, representation, and transmutation.
Wind Array Cascade
Machine: Pod by Montreal based artist Steve Heimbecker is a digital
landscape of the tactile and the ethereal. It consists of an array of
sixty-four movement sensors on the roof of the Méduse Artists'
Co-operative in Quebec City and sixty-four corresponding light sculptures
at InterAccess Electronic Media Arts Centre in Toronto. As the wind blows
across the roof in Quebec, the sensors gather real-time data and transmit
it though the WWW to the light markers in the Toronto exhibition space.
The lights illuminate according to the pressure waves of the wind, showing
the audience a visual representation of the pattern related to the amplitude,
direction, and wave motion of the wind at the remote location.
Telekinesis is a collaboration between Quebec artist Bill Vorn
and Australian artist Simon Penny which explores the creation of mixed
or augmented reality through the use of computation and telematics. It
is a two-way telematic/telerobotic installation that joins two locations
within the DECONism gallery space. An enclosed space in the back of the
gallery contains four cameras which capture and record bodily gestures
of the visitors. This data is used to determine the behaviour of a vaguely
anthropomorphic robot installed in the semi-public space of the gallery
window. A fifth camera records the robot and the responses of onlookers,
which are then projected in the video, capture space at the back of the
gallery. In this way, a highly mediated gestural communication loop is
formed by Bedlam.
As signals continue
to occupy and affect our daily lives, the artists that prompt us to explore
these technologies reveal how thought, emotion, and behavior are consciously
and unconsciously adjusting to these mediated worlds.
Alstad and Camille Turner
1) Re: <nettime> Qx2 Bartlett/Interplay Robert Adrian
2)Telematics, Telerobotics, and the Art of Meaning
selected Canadian telematic/telepresence art links
ARTEX - Artists'
Electronic Exchange System
and Telecommunication, 1979-1986: The Pioneer Years
There Love in the Telematic Embrace? By Roy Ascott
signal: an exhibition of telematic art
Wind Array Cascade Machine: Pod
by Steve Heimbecker
InterAccess Electronic Media Arts Centre
401 Richmond Street West, Suite 444
May 23 - June 7, 2003
Opening Reception: Saturday May 24th, 5-7pm
by Bill Vorn & Simony Penny
330 Dundas Street West (at McCaul Street)
May 23 - June 7, 2003
Opening Reception: Thursday May 22nd, 9-11pm
Gallery Hours: Tuesday
to Saturday, noon - 5pm
curated by Michael
Alstad and Camille Turner
co-presented by InterAccess
Electronic Media Art Centre
and Year Zero One
as part of the Subtle Technologies Festival
Sponsored by DECONism,
The McLuhan Programme in Art
Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, Toronto Arts Council
in Montreal (Canada), Bill Vorn is pursuing research and creative work
in Robotic Art. His installation projects involve robotics and motion
control, sound, lighting, video and cybernetic processes. He pursues research
on Artificial Life (and Death) and Agent Technologies through artistic
work based on the "Aesthetics of Artificial Behaviors". He recently
received a Ph.D. degree in Communication Studies from UQAM (Montreal)
for his thesis on "Artificial Life as a Media". He actually
teaches Electronic Arts in the Faculty of Fine Arts (Department of Studio
Arts) at Concordia University in Montreal where he is responsible of the
A-Lab, a Robotic Art research lab. He is also a member of the Research
Committee in the new Hexagram Institute for New Media.
His work has been
presented in many international events, including Ars Electronica, ISEA,
DEAF, Sonar, Art Futura, EMAF and Artec. He has been awarded the Life
2.0 award (1999, Madrid), the Leprecon Award for Interactivity (1998,
New York), the Prix Ars Electronica Distinction award (1996, Linz) and
the International Digital Media Award (1996, Toronto). His current projects
include a telerobotic installation called "Bedlam", a collaborative
project with Australian artist Simon Penny; "Evil/Live 3", an
audiovisual cellular automaton; and a series of robotic installations
entitled "Trilogie des Stèles". In collaboration with
Martin Peach, he is also developing "LifeTools II", a MaxMSP
control software toolbox based on Artificial Life algoritms and integrating
OpenGL display. You'll find more information about his work at http://www.billvorn.com.
Penny is an Australian artist, theorist and teacher in Interactive Media
Art. He makes interactive and robotic installations which have been exhibited
in the US, Australia and Europe.
He edited the anthology
Critical Issues in Electronic Media (SUNY Press 1995) and is currently
working on a book on embodied interaction and procedural aesthetics for
MIT press. His essays have been translated into seven languages. He curated
Machine Culture at SIGGRAPH '93 in Anaheim CA, arguably the first international
survey of interactive installation.
Recent awards include
a grant from the Langlois Foundation (with Bill Vorn), first prize in
the Cyberstar 98 awards (GMD/WDR, Germany) and a residency at the Institut
fur Bildmedien, ZKM Karlsruhe, spring97.
Penny is Professor
of Arts and Engineering at University of California Irvine. He is architect
and director of a new graduate program in Arts, Computation and Engineering.
He is Layer Leader for the Arts in the California Institute for Telecommunications
and Information Technology, CAL(IT)2.
in Saskatchewan, Steve Heimbecker studied fine art at The Alberta College
of Art and Design and is now recognized internationally for his role in
the development of audio art installation, performance, and multi channel
sound composition in Canada. His critically acclaimed (1999) double CD
anthology "The Enormouslessness of Cloud Machines", is a showcase
of his multi channel sound diffusion performances since 1992. Heimbecker’s
installation exhibitions have included; “Nirvana - 1987”,
“The Acoustic Line as the Crow Listens - 1993”, “Soundpool:
The Manufacturing of Silence - 1996”, “Hell is just the Opposite
- 1999”, and “Songs of Place: Ile de Montreal - 2002. In 2001,
he moved to Montréal and performed for the final concert of "Silophone"
(Société Radio-Canada & [the user]). Since 2000 he has
been producing a series of DVD Dolby 5.1 audio art portraits entitled
“Songs of Place”. In 2003, after 3 years of research and production,
the ambitious 64 channel network diffusion system, "Wind Array Cascade
Machine" phase 1, along with the first network installation “Pod”
was completed. He is currently creating and exploring national and international
installation and performance variations of the WACM system, through his
studio, The Qube Assemblage for Art in Motion - 1987, splitting his time
between Montreal and Ville de Quebec, Quebec, Canada.
is a Toronto based artist and curator working in installation and digital
media. He is a founding member of the Canadian artist collectives Year
Zero One and Symbiosis. Michael has co-ordinated several site-specific
projects in Toronto including The Clinic(95), The Bank of
Symbiosis(97), The Hoarding Project(98) and the Transmedia
video billboard exhibitions (00, 02). His web/video works were presented
at the Images Festival(Toronto 02), FILE(São Paulo01),
Graz Biennial on Media and Architecture(Graz, Austria 01), Global
Multimedia Interface(London 99) and the Pandæmonium Festival
of Moving Images(London 98). Michael’s most recent site responsive
project trans_plant consisted of a series of 'living sculptures'
in a former cable factory on the banks of the River Spree in Berlin-Oberschöneweide.
is a curatorial resident at InterAccess
Electronic Media Arts gallery in Toronto and the co-founder of Year
Zero One, a new media art collective. Recent projects include an ongoing
journal on the theme Belonging and Home for Horizon Zero's latest issue:
FEEL, a collaborative project between Wayne Dunkley and The Banff New
Media Institute. She is an international collaborator on The Container
Project initiated and coordinated by Mervin Jarman of mongrel, a UK group
of artists/activists.The container is a mobile media lab used to teach
media arts to people in Jamaica who have been locked out of technology.