CTM.08 – Unpredictable
Festival for Adventurous Music and Related Visual Arts
Generator.x 2.0: Beyond the Screen
24 Jan - 2 Feb 2008, Ballhaus Naunynstrasse / [DAM] Berlin
Workshop / Exhibition / Performance
Leander Herzog: thePhysicalVertexBuffer
Generator.x in collaboration with Club Transmediale and [DAM] presents Generator.x 2.0: Beyond the screen, a workshop and exhibition about digital fabrication and generative systems.
Digital fabrication (also known as “fabbing”) represents the next step in the digital revolution. After years of virtualization, with machines and atoms being replaced by bits and software, we are coming full circle. Digital technologies like rapid prototyping, laser cutting and CNC milling now produce atoms from bits, eliminating many of the limitations of industrial production processes. Once prohibitively expensive, such technologies are becoming increasingly accessible, pointing to a future where mass customization and manufacturing-on-demand may be real alternatives to mass production.
For artists and designers working with generative systems, digital fabrication opens the door to a range of new expressions beyond the limits of virtual space. Parametric models apply computational strategies to the analysis and synthesis of space, producing structures and surfaces of great complexity. Through fabbing these forms may be rendered tangible, even tactile.
"Beyond the screen" explores these new types of spatial constructs in a hands-on workshop, bringing together artists and designers working with code-based strategies for producing physical form. The workshop will feature public presentations bringing the topics of the workshop to a broader audience, culminating in an exhibition of fabbing works at the [DAM] gallery. In a continuation of the Generator.x concert tour, "Beyond the Screen" will also include an evening of concerts, showing the use of generative systems in audiovisual performance.
Jared Tarbell: Spheroids and cubes
We are looking for 15 artists, designers and architects who have an existing practice based on generative systems and custom software, and who are interested in investigating physical formats through digital fabrication. The workshop will be practical in nature, and will produce a selection of works that will be included in the exhibition at [DAM]. Participants will have access to an on-site laser cutter, and an introduction to this technology will be part of the workshop.
The workshop is free of charge, but we will not be able to provide support for travel or accomodation. Participants are expected to have experience with programming software that will allow them to produce work suitable for production, such as Processing, VVVV or any other system capable of producing vector output. Previous experience with laser cutting or digital fabrication technologies is a bonus, but not a requirement.
Applications must be in PDF format and should including a CV and a short statement of intent, describing why you want to participate in the workshop and how fabbing relates to your existing practice. You should include a maximum of 5 images of relevant work, with a total file size of 2 megabytes. Feel free to provide links to web sites containing documentation such as videos or downloadable software, but please don’t send such content by email.
Please submit applications by email to generatorx [at] clubtransmediale.de. The deadline for application is December 21, 2007, accepted participants will be notified at the beginning of January 2008.
Theverymany (Fornes / Tibbits): Tesselated panels
Generator.x is a platform for generative strategies in art and design, founded in 2005 to produce the conference Generator.x: Art from Code at Atelier Nord in Oslo. Other events have included a travelling exhibition as well as a series of audiovisual concerts. The Generator.x blog promotes code-based work of an experimental nature, bringing a critical discourse to the field of generative art.
Club Transmediale 2008 is the 9th edition of this international festival for adventurous music and realted visual arts, and takes place in Berlin under the theme “Unpredictable” concurrently and cooperatively with the transmediale international festival for art and digital culture. It is a prominent festival dedicated to contemporary electronic, digital and experimental music, as well as the diverse range of artistic activities in the context of sound and club culture.
Characterised by the title Unpredictable, the 2008 festival investigates artistic concepts that imply the surprising and unforeseeable, accidents, mistakes and coincidences as a means to alter the dynamics of creative processes and to discover new aesthetic forms.
[DAM] Berlin has since its opening 2003 been a leader in the field of digital art, showing pioneers of new media as well as emerging contemporary artists.
VVVV has slowly but steadily been gaining fame as a tool for realtime video synthesis. Artists like David Dessens, Jannis Urle Kilian Kreft (see image above) and Thomas Hitthaler (aka Ampop) have amply proven its maturity as a platform for live visuals, interactive installations and generative graphics. For more proof, take a look at MESO’s media design projects. Their work for Salzzeitreise Berchtesgaden looks spectacular.
Now a group of VVVV users have decided to celebrate their community by setting up a festival called NODE08. Set to take place in Frankfurt next April, the event will be part of the Luminale light art festival. In addition to an exhibition it will feature workshops and lectures on VVVV-related subjects, as well as a club night for the VVVV Fan Club to strut their stuff.
The NODEo8 organizers are currently looking for submissions, so if you’re working with VVVV and light you should head over to their submission page. The participants will have their work shown as part of the Luminale programme, which should give extra attention beyond the usual media art crowd.
John Maeda: Fireball
Here is an interesting John Maeda quote found over on Brian Steen's blog:
«My early computer art experiments led to the dynamic graphics common on websites today. You know what I’m talking about — all that stuff flying around on the computer screen while you’re trying to concentrate — that’s me. I am partially to blame for the unrelenting stream of “eye candy” littering the information landscape. I am sorry, and for a long while I have wished to do something about it.»
Now, the quote is from his book "The Laws of Simplicity", which gives some much-needed context. Nevertheless, it’s an interesting statement. Were it not for his status as a pioneer and his instrumental role in establishing the field of computational design, it would simply seem like hubris. In one simple statement, he not only takes credit for a field of work, but he also not-so-subtly implies that it has no value. That’s a tall order.
Even if one agrees with Maeda that the current interest in visual complexity is a bad thing, the whole debate around simplicity sounds strangely like the legibility wars of the 1990’s. Faced with digital typography that broke every rule and layered graphics that refused to obey any grid, the ruling masters of Modernism (including Maeda’s hero Paul Rand) denounced the new movement as style over substance – eye candy. However, the subsequent resurgence of Helvetica and diagonal grids showed that ultimately minimalism and maximalism are just styles, there for the choosing.
Maeda’s thoughts on simplicity are of course laudable, presenting a strategy for dealing with the difficulties of a technological society. But when applied to visual styles, it should be remembered that simplicity, like minimalism, can also be, well, boring. Not everyone likes their reality the same way.
Interestingly, the early work that Maeda seems to be disowning with the above statement is also the work his fame is built on. Compared to his more recent output such as the Nature series, the early pieces are visually much bolder and more vibrant. The sheer joy of form documented in his seminal Maeda @ Media book from 2001 seems strangely lacking in his newer works.
The derogatory term “eye candy” has plagued digital art since its inception, and has often been used to deride generative visuals in particular. It’s strange then to hear it used by an artist whose work is so firmly concerned with optical formalism. It seems much like throwing rocks while inside a glass house.
Still, a man should always be respected for trying to kill his darlings. We wish you luck, Mr. Maeda.
Lia: Work from Turux.at
The early-to-mid 1990’s were an interesting time. “Multimedia” was a hot buzzword, and people were wondering if CD-ROM and Internet was here to stay. Macromedia Director ruled the world of interactive graphics, and World Wide Web and HTML was finally transforming the Internet into a visual environment.
Early experiments using the web for art purposes quickly became iconic: Jodi hacked HTML, Form Art was briefly defined as a genre, Net.art considered ironic approaches to art production via this new channel and artists like Stanza explored Director as a tool for generative graphics.
During this (golden) period, Vienna was a hotbed of experimentation. A large group of artists pushed the boundaries of abstraction in visual art as well as music, often experimenting with code-based tools. It should be noted that the term “generative art” was not in use at the time. Nevertheless, the work produced at the time clearly articulated generative and procedural approaches to sound and image synthesis, prefiguring the current interest in such work.
Among this loosely affiliated group were artists like Farmers Manual, Tina Frank, Monoscope, Pure, Lia and Dextro. The music label MEGO and the film label Sixpackfilm provided publishing outlets. Norbert Pfaffenbichler put together an overview of the scene in the exhibition Austrian Abstracts in 2006, which expanded on the previous exhibition Abstraction Now, focusing specifically on the activities of Austrian artists.
Early pioneers of generative Director programming, Lia and Dextro quickly became influential both inside and outside the Director community. Their mix of crisp pixels, erratic animation and blurred surfaces was unique at the time, presenting a perfect visual counterpoint to a musical scene experimenting with glitch and sound defects.
Together, they produced Turux, a seminal web site which featured Director “soundtoys” and generative visual sketches. Thanks to the site’s intentionally cryptic interface design and the “anonymous author” fad popular with the Vienna artists (many of which used pseudonyms or group names), the authorship of Turux was unclear to outsiders. Often, visitors had no idea if Lia, Dextro or Turux were actual people or just project names. Nevertheless, Turux became an important reference for the nascent scene, its fame only heightened by its obscure origin.
When the collaboration ended some time later, Turux remained online practically unchanged. As a document of a specific time period, it became a time capsule of styles and strategies.
The original Turux.org is now offline for good, having been replaced by a placeholder. But Lia and Dextro have both set up their own archives. Lia recently launched Turux.at, a partial archive of her half of the project. Included are 21 works in Director, documented as stills and interactive Shockwave movies.
Dextro’s Turux experiments have been integrated into dextro.org, which presents his work chronologically organized from his early period up to now. See the Turux subpage for a list of sketches. For an example of his newer work, see c079.