Collaborative Art at CODE Live 2 (Granville Is.)

Last week I attended the opening of CODE.Live at Emily Carr University Art + Design (venue 2). I also went to the CODE Dialogues, where participants discussed current art practices that incorporate digital technologies. Although I still have to check out the other CODE venues, along with so many other exhibitions going on in the city (it’s a bit overwhelming), I’ve been thinking a lot about a few of the projects on display in Vancouver right now…

CODE.Lab
(Just brilliant…)

Code.lab is a publicly-sited art project that asks visitors to consider the relationship between the observer and the observed. This page gives you a very brief summary of the project, but I really encourage you to visit the project website before you go down to see the project in person on Granville Island. As a writer who occasionally reviews art, I’ve been thinking about what I have to say about this piece/ work/ project/ exhibit that hasn’t already been covered by the artists themselves. How might I contribute to the understanding of this project, besides encouraging a few others to contemplate the ideas explored? One aspect I’ve been thinking about is the generation of the project and its creative process…

examining public space and representation while the city appears in the international spotlight…
Due to provincial cuts to arts funding, artists are having to play the money game even more so than before. Since this project critically inquires into issues of surveillance and certain restrictions of public space, I wondered how Code.lab managed to be accepted as part of the Cultural Olympiad program, considering that the Olympics presence quickly comes to mind when viewing the work. Although the projects in Code.lab do not target the Olympics directly, there is the possibility that the public might perceive the work as doing so (or maybe not). In chatting with M. Simon Levin, one of the leaders of the project, I discovered that the word surveillance was kept out of all of the initial paperwork for the Cultural Olympiad. The artists cleverly approached their proposal by emphasizing an investigation of media images and a photo-saturated environment during the Olympics, with cautious awareness of the celebratory nature of the Cultural Olympiad program.  An examination of the range and types of images captured during the spectacle of the Olympics, and how that impacts Vancouver’s identity as a city, is interesting enough as a starting point for artistic research, yet the added conceptual layer of international spectacle mixed with national politics makes the work even more interesting to ponder.

disrupting hierarchy and opening up to collaborative process…
Code.lab consists of a series of projects produced through a unique collaboration between artists, students, and the public. The project can be considered an example of a teaching and learning experience based on equal collaboration between artists and their students. It would be interesting to examine the pedagogical aspects of this project from the different perspectives of those involved, as well as investigating the viewers and spectators reactions to the larger work. The projects, performative and installation-based, are all connected through the digital cameras that document these ruptures within the public space of the tourist location of Granville Island. In the communal lab space, a projection-based installation assembles live feds from the cameras on screen – viewed both on the large circular disk placed outside the entrance and on the surfaces of three tabletops that viewers are encouraged to move back and forth. An interesting point to note is that these small circular tables served as the ‘drawing board’ for the conceptual development of the Code.lab project.


*glisten)HIVE
, by Julie Andreyev
participant interaction through: http://glistenhive.ca/
(mockup image below, black and white reversed)

Located in the Intersection Digital Studios at Emily Carr, *glisten/HIVE is an audio-video interactive installation that projects animated text messages from Twitter contributors all over the world, while also responding to bodily movements of participants interacting in real-time. The text messages are digitally generated into social-insect swarming patterns, resembling bees moving towards a hive. The sound enhances the overall  sensory experience while the visual patterns slowly change from human-size letters to small specks receding further away into black space. The text subject matter is animal consciousness – the thoughts of animal owners and the imagined thoughts of the owners’ pets – and the intention of the work is to raise awareness about animals’ complex states of being. Before visiting this piece in person, I started considering how this work might relate to my own research interests of the internet as a space or venue towards self-reflection and an emergence of being. How might an awareness of animal consciousness brought forth through the use of social media contribute to a better understanding of our human selves?

swarmed by tweets, uncovering my thoughts…
In thinking about this question, it’s important to describe how this piece represents a visual mapping of current online communication patterns. Snippets of text, restricted to the 140 character limit of Twitter, swirl in and around one another on screen suggesting on-going self-dialogue with no apparent beginning or end, like constant mind chatter. As the animated text enlarges and words become more easily deciphered, phrases emerge at times revealing a momentary state of mind. The visual rhythmic movement is accompanied by a soundtrack consisting of muffled low blips and small pulses, creating a hypnotic and trance-like feeling that absorbs the viewer into the physical space of the screen. Except for the small amount of white light emanating from the text on the large black screens, the room is completely pitch-black. As the swarm of tweets become slower in pace and reduced in size, the volume of the sound lessens, and one beings to feel like they are in an empty field on a quiet summer night. The technologically busied mind now embraces what appears to be insects, perhaps fireflies, words are now transformed to floating dots. As the viewer shifts forward towards the sensors above the screens, the human movements triggers the feedback loop, bringing thoughts to life again. Standing back, one begins to see the four large swarms, or network configurations, spanning the panoramic display as one large network made up of these interconnected systems. It is an environment that oscillates between a spatial representation of a supposedly simple animal’s mind and an extremely complex system that goes beyond the individual being. As the viewer engages with the piece for some time, there is the desire to locate oneself within this system…either as an abstract presence or a thoughtful contributor.

More on these pieces and CODE Live 2  here

Download full review of *glisten)HIVE  here

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