Tuesday, October 18. 2011
by The Creators Project Staff October 11, 2011
Our traveling event series has taken us all over the world this year—from the desert sands of Coachella to an exquisite refurbished opera-house-turned-digital-media-house in Paris to Beijing’s most avant-garde center for contemporary art—but one constant uniting all these events and locations has been the evolving work of United Visual Artists (UVA). A multi-disciplinary collective from the UK, UVA can best be described as “architects of light and sound,” creating colossal interactive installations and sets for live performance that have the power to attract and captivate audiences like moths to the proverbial flame.
As one of our main Studio works this year, they redesigned the Coachella main stage as The Orchestrion, both a platform for performance and a standalone, cubic light and and sound sculpture with experimental music by Creator Mira Calix. The work then traveled to the Nuits sonores in Lyon, where it served as the entry point to the festival as Conductor, a monolithic 16 meter totem, animated with UVA’s light designs and set to an original score by Scanner. The installation then became a mysterious, infinite and reflective Room with a View in both São Paulo and Beijing.
UVA’s Coachella main stage transforms into a cube of light during an audiovisual performance in collaboration with Mira Calix. Photo by Peter Sutherland
For our New York event in DUMBO this weekend, UVA will debut Origin, their latest large-scale responsive LED sculpture. At 10 meters wide and 10 meters high, it’s the largest responsive work they’ve created thus far. Taking inspiration from UVA’s previous monumental site-specific works like Monolith, Tryptich and Volume, they’ve created a giant cubic structure that is simple in form but still manages to create a powerful ‘otherworldly’, ‘alien’ or ‘god-like’ presence. Calling to mind images of Mecca and the Tower of Babel, the group hopes to capture the energy and diversity of NYC in the experience.
“Monolith” (London, 2005). Image courtesy of the artists.
“Triptych” (Paris, 2007). Image courtesy of the artists.
“Volume” (London, 2010). Image courtesy of the artists.
Origin is a cubic lattice composed of 125 two-meter cubic spaces mounted with linear LED strips, allowing it to emit varying light patterns in all directions. A network of speakers (bass and treble) generates real-time loud ominous sounds from a new original score by Scanner. Visitors will be able to meander inside the structure, immersed in its sights and sounds and influencing these sights and sounds in turn.
In UVA’s own words:
Origin is alive, and it’s moody. It will stay in a state of calm, soothing bliss for fifteen minutes at a time, lulling its occupants into a sense of false security. Then, seemingly on a whim, it will take exception to their behaviour; its metaphorical tail will start to lash back and forth like a cat’s, until it explodes into an angry tantrum that rises to a terrifying crescendo. Then it will again seemingly calm down.
While it remains purposely mysterious, it’s clear that its mood changes are triggered by people moving within the structure; while you’re queueing and watching the people inside try to discover ‘how it works’, you’re also forming your own hypotheses.
DUMBO residents have already been gathering around Tobacco Warehouse to gawk at the structure as it rose from the ground. The sight was particularly stunning at dusk when the LEDs were displayed in their full resplendence.
To uncover the secret of Origin you’ll have to venture out to DUMBO this weekend and experience it for yourself. The sculpture will be open to the public starting October 12 from 5-9pm. Over the weekend (October 15 & 16), it will be open all day from 12-10pm, then again from 5-9pm through October 23.
Be sure to RSVP to the NY event to receive entry. The event is free and open to the public (with the exception of the Karen O psycho-opera Stop the Virgens, but all venues will be subject to capacity.
Images courtesy of UVA / James Medcraft.Origin will be open to the public through October 23.
Monday, October 17. 2011
Via Vague Terrain
The noise factor is the ratio of signal to noise of an input signal to that of the output signal. Noise can block or interfere with the meaning of a message in both human and electronic communication. But in Information Theory, noise is still considered to be information.
By refining the definition of noise as that which addresses us outside of our preferred comfort zone, Joseph Nechvatal's Immersion Into Noise investigates multiple aspects of cultural noise by applying the audio understanding of noise to the visual, architectural and cognitive domains. Nechvatal expands and extends our understanding of the function of cultural noise by taking the reader through the immersive and phenomenal aspects of noise into algorithmic and network contexts, beginning with his experience in the Abside of the Grotte de Lascaux.
Immersion Into Noise is intended as a conceptual handbook useful for the development of a personal-political-visionary art of noise. On a planet that is increasingly technologically linked and globally mediated, how might noises break and re-connect in distinctive and productive ways within practices located in the world of art and thought? That is the question Joseph Nechvatal explores in Immersion Into Noise.
Some robots are being trained to do digital design work now. The design-savvy robots in question are part of Southern California Institute of Architecture's (SCI-Arc) Robot House and they're around for the repetitive and extremely detailed movements that human artists find tedious or impossible. So your life of quiet painterly desperation and locavore vegan cocktails is safe for the time being.
Here's some info about the Robot House, from SCI-Arc's website.
Friday, October 14. 2011
de Sean Michael Ragan
I try to avoid superlatives in my headlines, and have been for awhile now. But it’s been a long time since I had such a hard time resisting that urge. Here’s a few that came to mind while I was composing this one about the work of Dallas artist Gabriel Dawe: stunning, magnificent, celestial, gorgeous, beautiful, amazing, transcendent. “Awesome,” if it could still be used literally, might also have been in that list.
So, yeah, check it out. As of this writing, Mr. Dawe has an ongoing exhibition of his piece plexus no. 9 at Houston’s PEEL Gallery. Shown above is plexus no. 5. Do not miss clicking through the entire Plexus series at the artist’s site. [Thanks, Billy Baque!]
Wednesday, October 12. 2011
Via The Funambulist
The Trial by Orson Welles (adapted from Franz Kafka’s novel) 1962
The structuralist descriptions established by Michel Foucault about discipline are thought to be well known, especially by architects for who the book has been simplified with images that they can understand. The architectual paradigm of the panopticon (see previous essay) is quoted everywhere and became indissoluble from Foucault’s work despite its very large extents. What most people did not understand is that the panopticon as it has been thought by Jeremy Bentham is interpreted by Foucault as the paradigm of a society of discipline which does not apply anymore to the current organizational scheme of the Western world.
A bit further in the text, he continues by giving an example invented by his friend Felix Guattari in order to illustrate how control exercises its power on the bodies:
This very simple example carries some tremendous human implications when applied literally -with the dozens of Israeli checkpoints inside the West Bank for example- but also more figuratively in a society we are more used to in the Western World in which the concept of freedom cannot be understood outside of a policed capitalist system.
For the archive, here is Deleuze’s text:
Society of Control
Foucault located the disciplinary societies in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries; they reach their height at the outset of the twentieth. They initiate the organization of vast spaces of enclosure. The individual never ceases passing from one closed environment to another, each having its own laws: first the family; then the school (“you are no longer in your family”); then the barracks (“you are no longer at school”); then the factory; from time to time the hospital; possibly the prison, the preeminent instance of the enclosed environment. It’s the prison that serves as the analogical model: at the sight of some laborers, the heroine of Rossellini’s Europa ’51 could exclaim, “I thought I was seeing convicts.”
Foucault has brilliantly analyzed the ideal project of these environments of enclosure, particularly visible within the factory: to concentrate; to distribute in space; to order in time; to compose a productive force within the dimension of space-time whose effect will be greater than the sum of its component forces. But what Foucault recognized as well was the transience of this model: it succeeded that of the societies of sovereignty, the goal and functions of which were something quite different (to tax rather than to organize production, to rule on death rather than to administer life); the transition took place over time, and Napoleon seemed to effect the large-scale conversion from one society to the other. But in their turn the disciplines underwent a crisis to the benefit of new forces that were gradually instituted and which accelerated after World War II: a disciplinary society was what we already no longer were, what we had ceased to be.
We are in a generalized crisis in relation to all the environments of enclosure–prison, hospital, factory, school, family. The family is an “interior,” in crisis like all other interiors–scholarly, professional, etc. The administrations in charge never cease announcing supposedly necessary reforms: to reform schools, to reform industries, hospitals, the armed forces, prisons. But everyone knows that these institutions are finished, whatever the length of their expiration periods. It’s only a matter of administering their last rites and of keeping people employed until the installation of the new forces knocking at the door. These are the societies of control, which are in the process of replacing disciplinary societies. “Control” is the name Burroughs proposes as a term for the new monster, one that Foucault recognizes as our immediate future. Paul Virilio also is continually analyzing the ultrarapid forms of free-floating control that replaced the old disciplines operating in the time frame of a closed system. There is no need to invoke the extraordinary pharmaceutical productions, the molecular engineering, the genetic manipulations, although these are slated to enter the new process. There is no need to ask which is the toughest regime, for it’s within each of them that liberating and enslaving forces confront one another. For example, in the crisis of the hospital as environment of enclosure, neighborhood clinics, hospices, and day care could at first express new freedom, but they could participate as well in mechanisms of control that are equal to the harshest of confinements. There is no need to fear or hope, but only to look for new weapons.
The different internments of spaces of enclosure through which the individual passes are independent variables: each time one us supposed to start from zero, and although a common language for all these places exists, it is analogical. One the other hand, the different control mechanisms are inseparable variations, forming a system of variable geometry the language of which is numerical (which doesn’t necessarily mean binary). Enclosures are molds, distinct castings, but controls are a modulation, like a self-deforming cast that will continuously change from one moment to the other, or like a sieve whose mesh will transmute from point to point.
This is obvious in the matter of salaries: the factory was a body that contained its internal forces at the level of equilibrium, the highest possible in terms of production, the lowest possible in terms of wages; but in a society of control, the corporation has replaced the factory, and the corporation is a spirit, a gas. Of course the factory was already familiar with the system of bonuses, but the corporation works more deeply to impose a modulation of each salary, in states of perpetual metastability that operate through challenges, contests, and highly comic group sessions. If the most idiotic television game shows are so successful, it’s because they express the corporate situation with great precision. The factory constituted individuals as a single body to the double advantage of the boss who surveyed each element within the mass and the unions who mobilized a mass resistance; but the corporation constantly presents the brashest rivalry as a healthy form of emulation, an excellent motivational force that opposes individuals against one another and runs through each, dividing each within. The modulating principle of “salary according to merit” has not failed to tempt national education itself. Indeed, just as the corporation replaces the factory, perpetual training tends to replace the school, and continuous control to replace the examination. Which is the surest way of delivering the school over to the corporation.
In the disciplinary societies one was always starting again (from school to the barracks, from the barracks to the factory), while in the societies of control one is never finished with anything–the corporation, the educational system, the armed services being metastable states coexisting in one and the same modulation, like a universal system of deformation. In The Trial, Kafka, who had already placed himself at the pivotal point between two types of social formation, described the most fearsome of judicial forms. The apparent acquittal of the disciplinary societies (between two incarcerations); and the limitless postponements of the societies of control (in continuous variation) are two very different modes of juridicial life, and if our law is hesitant, itself in crisis, it’s because we are leaving one in order to enter the other. The disciplinary societies have two poles: the signature that designates the individual, and the number or administrative numeration that indicates his or her position within a mass. This is because the disciplines never saw any incompatibility between these two, and because at the same time power individualizes and masses together, that is, constitutes those over whom it exercises power into a body and molds the individuality of each member of that body. (Foucault saw the origin of this double charge in the pastoral power of the priest–the flock and each of its animals–but civil power moves in turn and by other means to make itself lay “priest.”) In the societies of control, on the other hand, what is important is no longer either a signature or a number, but a code: the code is a password, while on the other hand disciplinary societies are regulated by watchwords (as much from the point of view of integration as from that of resistance). The numerical language of control is made of codes that mark access to information, or reject it. We no longer find ourselves dealing with the mass/individual pair. Individuals have become “dividuals,” and masses, samples, data, markets, or “banks.” Perhaps it is money that expresses the distinction between the two societies best, since discipline always referred back to minted money that locks gold as numerical standard, while control relates to floating rates of exchange, modulated according to a rate established by a set of standard currencies. The old monetary mole is the animal of the space of enclosure, but the serpent is that of the societies of control. We have passed from one animal to the other, from the mole to the serpent, in the system under which we live, but also in our manner of living and in our relations with others. The disciplinary man was a discontinuous producer of energy, but the man of control is undulatory, in orbit, in a continuous network. Everywhere surfing has already replaced the older sports.
Types of machines are easily matched with each type of society–not that machines are determining, but because they express those social forms capable of generating them and using them. The old societies of sovereignty made use of simple machines–levers, pulleys, clocks; but the recent disciplinary societies equipped themselves with machines involving energy, with the passive danger of entropy and the active danger of sabotage; the societies of control operate with machines of a third type, computers, whose passive danger is jamming and whose active one is piracy or the introduction of viruses. This technological evolution must be, even more profoundly, a mutation of capitalism, an already well-known or familiar mutation that can be summed up as follows: nineteenth-century capitalism is a capitalism of concentration, for production and for property. It therefore erects a factory as a space of enclosure, the capitalist being the owner of the means of production but also, progressively, the owner of other spaces conceived through analogy (the worker’s familial house, the school). As for markets, they are conquered sometimes by specialization, sometimes by colonization, sometimes by lowering the costs of production. But in the present situation, capitalism is no longer involved in production, which it often relegates to the Third World, even for the complex forms of textiles, metallurgy, or oil production. It’s a capitalism of higher-order production. It no-longer buys raw materials and no longer sells the finished products: it buys the finished products or assembles parts. What it wants to sell is services but what it wants to buy is stocks. This is no longer a capitalism for production but for the product, which is to say, for being sold or marketed. Thus is essentially dispersive, and the factory has given way to the corporation. The family, the school, the army, the factory are no longer the distinct analogical spaces that converge towards an owner–state or private power–but coded figures–deformable and transformable–of a single corporation that now has only stockholders. Even art has left the spaces of enclosure in order to enter into the open circuits of the bank. The conquests of the market are made by grabbing control and no longer by disciplinary training, by fixing the exchange rate much more than by lowering costs, by transformation of the product more than by specialization of production. Corruption thereby gains a new power. Marketing has become the center or the “soul” of the corporation. We are taught that corporations have a soul, which is the most terrifying news in the world. The operation of markets is now the instrument of social control and forms the impudent breed of our masters. Control is short-term and of rapid rates of turnover, but also continuous and without limit, while discipline was of long duration, infinite and discontinuous. Man is no longer man enclosed, but man in debt. It is true that capitalism has retained as a constant the extreme poverty of three-quarters of humanity, too poor for debt, too numerous for confinement: control will not only have to deal with erosions of frontiers but with the explosions within shanty towns or ghettos.
The conception of a control mechanism, giving the position of any element within an open environment at any given instant (whether animal in a reserve or human in a corporation, as with an electronic collar), is not necessarily one of science fiction. Felix Guattari has imagined a city where one would be able to leave one’s apartment, one’s street, one’s neighborhood, thanks to one’s (dividual) electronic card that raises a given barrier; but the card could just as easily be rejected on a given day or between certain hours; what counts is not the barrier but the computer that tracks each person’s position–licit or illicit–and effects a universal modulation.
The socio-technological study of the mechanisms of control, grasped at their inception, would have to be categorical and to describe what is already in the process of substitution for the disciplinary sites of enclosure, whose crisis is everywhere proclaimed. It may be that older methods, borrowed from the former societies of sovereignty, will return to the fore, but with the necessary modifications. What counts is that we are at the beginning of something. In the prison system: the attempt to find penalties of “substitution,” at least for petty crimes, and the use of electronic collars that force the convicted person to stay at home during certain hours. For the school system: continuous forms of control, and the effect on the school of perpetual training, the corresponding abandonment of all university research, the introduction of the “corporation” at all levels of schooling. For the hospital system: the new medicine “without doctor or patient” that singles out potential sick people and subjects at risk, which in no way attests to individuation–as they say–but substitutes for the individual or numerical body the code of a “dividual” material to be controlled. In the corporate system: new ways of handling money, profits, and humans that no longer pass through the old factory form. These are very small examples, but ones that will allow for better understanding of what is meant by the crisis of the institutions, which is to say, the progressive and dispersed installation of a new system of domination. One of the most important questions will concern the ineptitude of the unions: tied to the whole of their history of struggle against the disciplines or within the spaces of enclosure, will they be able to adapt themselves or will they give way to new forms of resistance against the societies of control? Can we already grasp the rough outlines of the coming forms, capable of threatening the joys of marketing? Many young people strangely boast of being “motivated”; they re-request apprenticeships and permanent training. It’s up to them to discover what they’re being made to serve, just as their elders discovered, not without difficulty, the telos of the disciplines. The coils of a serpent are even more complex that the burrows of a molehill.
L’autre journal, Nr. I, Mai 1990.
I keep this post in our | rblg survey because it is useful --even so partly questioned-- for us in the context of an ongoing project, Paranoid Shelter (an installation by fabric | ch that will be used in a joint theatrical project with french writer and essayist Eric Sadin, Globale Paranoia). It will be on stage next February at the Comédie de Caen in France.
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fabric | rblg
This blog is the survey website of fabric | ch - studio for architecture, interaction and research.
We curate and reblog articles, researches, writings, exhibitions and projects that we notice and find interesting during our everyday practice and readings.
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