Etivity 10 V&A

I had never been at an exhibition that was so crammed. Sometimes galleries are so sparse they’re boring when showing interactive work, where people need to get physically involved you need space. So many works are triggered by sensors and when theres so many people trying to move around the space not alone interact with the pieces, they just don’t work as intended. There were also a number of pieces out of order, I guess it’s still the nature of technology to work in a studio environment and then not perform on the day. There is definitely a lot more maintenance required in the running of an interactive electronic arts exhibition than one of a more traditional nature!

I was impressed with ‘Body Paint’ by London based artist Mehmet Akten. It gave a more organic physical cause and visual effect opportunity to the exhibition goer. Once you get the idea, you start to make conscious decisions of what you want to create, although you only control it to a certain extent, there is no choice over colours and sometimes the paint doesn’t seem to go in the direction intended.

‘It is not intended as a painting application, but rather a full-body instrument that people can play with, and create something ‘beautiful’.

I felt the need to harness the technology although it seems to have a life of its own, it is merely referencing your movements rather than trying to replicate exactly. The piece has its own language and it is up to the participant to discover this through play.

‘Hidden in the simplicity, are many layers of subtle details. Different aspects of the motion – size, speed, acceleration, curvature, distance all have an effect on the outcome – strokes, splashes, drips, spirals’

Sometimes with this kind of work it is hard to accept it as it is, without thinking of how it could be. Perhaps this impression is what separates traditional art and new media art, I never find myself looking at a painting and thinking of how it could be better. This piece will eventually be replaced with a newer model but maybe thats the point. Since the piece is about experience in the moment then maybe thats all that matters. The technology can be replaced but the memory can’t. In his essay The Immediated Now: Networked Culture and the Poetics of Reality, Kazys Varnelis questions high and low art coming from networked culture.

‘Whether a cultural artifact is cool or not matters more than its status in high and low (indeed, unless the object is first cool, styling it as high ensures that it will be seen as kitsch today)’.

‘Reality art leaves behind formal structure and deeper meaning for a heightened sense of immediacy.’

Is meaning being replaced by spectacle in technological art? If the technology becomes obsolete what factors will ensure the arts survival?

Helena

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