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Group Exhibition at DNA Artspace, November 29th to December 15th, 2013, London, Ontario.


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Clamour

Giles Whitaker and Chris Myhr, 2013

Found appliances, surface-transducers, speakers, computers, and electronics.

The former workplace kitchen of the Fodemesi Shoes factory is reanimated with sound and motion. An array of computer-controlled appliances operates autonomously within an immersive field of sound generated by devices embedded in the walls, ceiling and cupboards of the space. The work aims to evoke and intensify the forlorn qualities of this abandoned site, and engages with ideas of labour, consumption, appetites, and noise.

Giles Whitaker works with machines, microcontrollers, and found objects. Sound is a key element of his installations, which aim to reveal and analyze the political and cultural properties of the spaces they occupy. Giles completed his undergraduate degree in Wellington, New Zealand, and his MFA at Western University, London, Ontario. His past exhibitions in New Zealand and Canada include abstract video, sound, and interactive multimedia installations.

Chris Myhr is an interdisciplinary media artist whose studio practice moves between media installation, sound-based work, video and photography. He is currently working with visual programming languages and surface-transduction technologies in the generation of live and immersive listening environments which address the interconnected relationships between sound, body, and space. He is particularly interested in the ways in which the natural and built spaces we inhabit, together with our acquired and conditioned approaches to listening, shape aural experience and perception.

You can hear the sounds of the installation here: https://soundcloud.com/gileswhitaker/clamour

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This installation consists of a number of small, microprocessor controlled machines which make sound by tapping on the architectural surfaces to which they are attached. These sounds overlay the existing soundscape of this institutional space, and draw attention to its properties. At the same time, the work effects an actual change in the aural properties of the space and imbues it with new affective qualities. This work intends to problematize the unstated or unquestioned assumptions around this public space. How are the perceptible structures in this space arranged, and why is this taken as “natural” by its inhabitants?

Exhibited at Make/Shift exhibition, Artlab, University of Western Ontario, Sep 20 – Oct 4, 2012.

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The London Nuit Blanche, part of the Fringe Festival, took place on the evening of June 18th, 2011. The activities that took place at London Museum are described here:

http://www.londonmuseum.on.ca/programsevents/nuitblanche/

The evening went well, with large numbers of visitors. I found the experimental music stimulating, and it interacted with my work in an interesting way.  My Vision Persist program was showing on the ground floor throughout the evening. This work generates simple abstract paintings whose colours bleed into each other over time – creating stains and blooms of new colours which spread across the “canvas”. Viewers were able to draw into the canvas themselves by using a mouse on a podium – so they could influence the evolution of the painting by adding their own coloured shapes which would then continue to evolve and affect the colours around them.

People seemed to find the work easy and enjoyable to interact with –   I saw people of all ages having a play with it.  My only criticism was that the program ran a bit slowly, only updating at about 5 frames per second. In terms of the evolution of the painting, I didn’t have a problem with this, as it created a sort of slow, meditative feeling. However, as the users’ drawing had to wait for the screen updates, drawing wasn’t very smooth. If you confined your drawing to a smallish area to create blobs it worked well, but users who tried to create rapid lines and swirls found the lines would break up into a series of unconnected points.  I need to have the screen updates and the drawings running in separate threads – so that even when the screen is updating at a low framerate, drawing can still take place at a high framerate.

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Vision Persist, an interactive, abstract projection, will be showing at the Hide & Seek, Show & Tell event which is part of the Nuit Blanche art evening in London, Ontario.  Saturday 18th June, starts 9pm, finishes 3 am. The space will also feature live music, zine tables, and art workshops.  http://museumlondon.ca/programsevents/nuitblanche/

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A new program that generates random collages by selecting random parts of images and drawing them on top of each other. The program runs continuously, blending new image parts over the existing composition. All images were sourced from the web from open, public websites. The images were obtained “randomly” by doing image searches using words randomly selected from a dictionary. Images were chosen that were the right size and orientation and which fitted certain criteria. They all had to be unaltered photos and not hand-drawn, computer-generated or manipulated images. They were also selected for interesting composition and subject matter – so it is a sort of semi-random process. Image contents and subjects that I would not have thought of without the random process have been obtained – but I have exercised some choice about what sorts of images, compositions, and image fragments will work well in the program.

At the moment the program uses this library of images on the hard drive. I would like to find some way to allow the program to search for and find its own images on the web. I have a prototype for this, and it works, but not very well.  If anyone has any ideas about how to do this well, let me know. It’s possible that the library of pre-downloaded images is actually a better choice – as it can make more interesting comments on the relationships between ourselves, our shared images, and the world due to the more careful selection. I’ll need a lot more of these images, though, as at the moment you see image fragments repeat a bit too often.

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I have a couple of works up at gallery modernarts in London Ontario, which specialises in abstract works. The works are unique framed prints which are outputs of two different abstract painting generators.

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I have created a new abstract painting generation algorithm which chooses colours according to certain colour harmonies, arrranges the starting elements in a (somewhat) random manner, and then evolves the painting gradually over time using the Four Winds algorithm. I’m very pleased with this work as it not only creates interesting colour/texture/composition combinations, but the colours continue to be pushed around into new combinations as the program runs. It changes slowly, but it’s interesting to watch if you enjoy this sort of thing.

The initial colour harmonies are based on colour theory,  with monochromatic, complementary, colour triads and so on – with a lot of random variation in the colours and some extra colours sometimes thrown in randomly. The number of colours is kept integral (8, 16, 64 or 128), and the colours used are stored in arrays and then drawn on when the “initial seed painting” is drawn. This is analogous to a painting process where the artist mixes the colours he needs before starting painting. The evolution process cannot create any new colours – no blending occurs. This keeps the painting surface pretty flat and digital-looking, which I like.

I like digital paintings that look like digital paintings. There’s no need to try and draw on the prestige of a “superior” medium by trying to emulate its effects. No, these paintings are unashamedly digital.

I have kept the gamut of variability pretty wide on these paintings – so the colour harmonies are not too tightly programmed. So some surprising colour combinations can still occur (not always pretty!).

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