THE MACHINES ABOVE US: AN OVERVIEW OF THE ‘CELESTIAL MECHANICS’ NEW MEDIA ARTWORK

2 03 2009

By SCOTT HESSELS

1 Image 1: Low Earth-orbiting Satellites

INTRODUCTION

The mechanical chaos above our heads affects us directly in an astounding array of ways. The technologies we take for granted, as banal as the GPS in our cars and our mobile phones, are nearly all airborne. Our communications, our media, our military, our science, our security, and our safety are all tied to mechanical superstructures drifting silently above us. Although we can’t see them or touch them, they too are part of what N. Katherine Hayles describes as the post-human tendency to physically extend ourselves through technology.

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SCOTT HESSELS

2 03 2009

scott hessels

Singapore, 1958

Assistant Professor

Nanyang Technological University

School of Art, Design and Media

http://users.design.ucla.edu/~shessels/

and http://www.cmlab.com

dshessels(at)ntu.edu.sg

Scott is a media artist and independent filmmaker who works in several different media. Under the name Damaged Californians, his films and videos have shown in hundreds of international film and new media festivals, on television, and in contemporary art galleries over the past 20 years. Recently, his experiments with cinematic form have mixed film with sensors, robotics, GPS, and alternative forms of interactivity. Previously teaching in the Design | Media Arts department at UCLA, he is now based in Singapore.





PRIMATE CINEMA: BABOONS AS FRIENDS

1 03 2009

By RACHEL MAYERI

Primate Cinema is a planned series of videos that visualize primate social dramas for human audiences. The first video experiment, Baboons as Friends, juxtaposes footage of baboons taken in the field with a reenactment by human actors, shot in film noir style in a bar in Los Angeles. A tale of lust, jealousy, sex, and violence transpires simultaneously in nonhuman and human worlds. Beastly males, instinctively attracted to a femme fatale, fight to win her, but most are doomed to fail. The story of sexual selection is presented across species, the dark genre of film noir re-mapping the savannah to the urban jungle.

1ma

Baboons as Friends is presented in split screen. One side shows raw field footage of baboons in Kenya, shot by primatologist/cognitive scientist, Deborah Forster. The other side shows a reenactment I scripted and directed with actors in Hollywood. The soundtrack combines actual vocalizations of the baboons with the ambience of a bar. Once the video has ended it is shown a second time along with a commentary by Forster on the behavior of primates. Baboons as Friends can also be presented as a two channel video installation with voiceover narration on headphones.

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RACHEL MAYERI

1 03 2009

rachel

Rachel MAYERI, USA, 1969, Assistant Professor of Media Studies / Digital Media, Harvey Mudd College, Humanities and Social Sciences Department, http://www.soft-science.org, Rachel.Mayeri(at)gmail.com. Los Angeles-based artist working at the intersection of science, art, and society. Her videos, installations, and writing projects explore scientific representation in topics ranging from the history of special effects to the human animal. Her chapter on artists` experiments with science documentary is forthcoming in Tactical Biopolitcs: Theory & Practice@ life.science.art, Beatriz da Costa and Kavita Philip, eds. Shown at Los Angeles Filmforum, ZKM in Karlsruhe, and P.S.1/MoMA in New York, a Guest Curator of the Museum of Jurassic Technology.





THE MORPHOLOGY PROJECT ART-SCIENCE EXPLORATIONS OF BIOLOGICAL SHAPE ANALYSIS AND EVOLUTION

1 03 2009

By ROB O’NEILL

INTRODUCTION

Morphology, within the field of biology, refers to the outward appearance of an organism or taxon and its component parts. As a means of quantifying morphology, morphometrics is the collection of methods used to collect measurements from shapes and perform statistical analysis on the variation. This paper introduces the concepts and history behind morphology and morphometrics as a backdrop to the subsequently described art-science explorations undertaken by the author in the Morphology Project. In particular, “dataFace”, the most recent installment of the Morphology Project is detailed as an example of how a large scientific dataset can be harnessed using custom and existing tools as a means of artistic exploration and scientific inquiry. Morphometrics is an untapped area for the arts. By utilizing these ideas and their accompanying methodologies, artists have the ability to analyze shape mathematically and to wield large biological shape databases as a medium. This interplay has the potential to enhance both the arts and sciences.

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ROB O’NEILL

1 03 2009

rob oneil

Rob O’Neill, United States of America, 1976, Research Associate, Pratt Institute, Digital Arts Research Laboratory, http://www.morphometric.com, roneill(at)dal.pratt.edu

Artist, programmer and researcher working at the intersection of art and science. He is on the faculty of Digital Arts at Pratt Institute and is a Research Associate in the Digital Arts Research Laboratory. He holds an undergraduate degree in anthropology from Brooklyn College (CUNY) where he focused on anatomy and biological anthropology. Rob holds an MFA from Parsons School of Design in Design and Technology with a focus on visualization. Previously: Cultural Resources Manager at American Museum of Natural History (Anthropology); Character Technical Director at PDI/Dreamworks; and Studio Technical Director at Eyebeam.





SOME FRAGMENTARY PROLEGOMENA ON BIOSOCIAL KITSCH

24 02 2009

By MICHAEL ROSSI

Let’s begin with Paul Rabinow’s 1992 essay, “Artificiality and Enlightenment: From Sociobiology to Biosociality.” Written in a climate of unreflective and unselfconscious enthusiasm for the emerging human genome project, Rabinow – writing perhaps with a mild sense of irony – sought, as he put it, to “sketch some of the ways in which […] the two poles of the body and population are being rearticulated into what could be called a post-disciplinary rationality.” By postdisciplinary, he notes, he does not mean “post-modern.” What he does mean is that, to paraphrase, “in the future, the new genetics […] will become […] a circulation network through which a truly new type of autoproduction will emerge, which I call ‘biosociality.’ If sociobiology is culture constructed on the basis of a metaphor of nature, then in biosociality, nature will be modeled on culture understood as practice. Nature will be known and remade through technique and will finally become artificial, just as culture becomes natural” (Rabinow, 1992) – a heady prognostication, even for an era unabashedly full of promise.

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