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Every technology has its own accidents. Rosa Menkman is a Dutch media artist who focuses on visual artifacts created by these kind of accidents in digital media. The visuals and installations she creates are the result of glitches, compressions, feedback and other forms of unplanned noise.

Although most people perceive accidents as negative experiences, Rosa Menkman emphasizes their positive consequences. By combining both her practical as well as academic background, she merges her abstract pieces within a grand theory (“glitch studies”), in which she strives for new forms of conceptual synthesis of the two.

Glitch art seems to be an art form which requires a considerable amount of – rather obscure – explanation. According to Menkman, “glitch art is best described as a collection of forms and events that oscillate between extremes: the fragile, technologically based moment(um) of a material break, the conceptual or techno-cultural investigation of breakages, and the accepted and standardised commodity that a glitch can become. […] Glitch genres perform reflections on materiality not just on a technological level, but also by playing off the physical medium and its non-physical, interpretative or conceptual characteristics. To understand a work […] of glitch art completely, each level of this notion of (glitch) materiality should be studied: the text as a physical artifact, its technological and aesthetical qualities, conceptual content, and the interpretive activities of artists”.
and audiences.

If this description confuses you: it is  – more or less! – explained by Rosa when interviewed for the Digital Manifesto Archive:

So much for theory. How does this actually look and/or sound? Below are a few video’s included of works made by Rosa Menkman.

 

Pattern Recognition, Beyond Resolution

This video was apparently commissioned by the Dutch railways to be played on big LED ‘Urban Screens’ in train stations all over the Netherlands. However, when finished it wasn’t used because it was classified by the railway company as being “to strange for train passengers”:

 

DCT:SYPHONING

This installation is part of the Transfer Download exhibition of the Minnesota Street Project in Transfer Gallery in  San Francisco, which ends on September 9, so next week. So you are actually still able to see/experience it if you are living near SF!

According to the Transfer Gallery website this work is inspired by the 1884 novel ‘Flatland’ by Edwin Abbott Abbott. Rosa Menkman tells the story of a father who introduces his son to different levels of compression; they move from dither, to lines, to macroblocks (the realm in which they normally resonate) to the ‘future’ realms of wavelets and vectors.

 

Xilitla

Xilitla is a software game/application for Windows, Mac and Linux platforms which enables you to view the videoscapes of Rosa Menkman in glitchy  way outside the confines of YouTube and Vimeo (or this  blog page..). The app can  be downloaded for free on the Xilitla/Beyond Resolution website. In the About Xilitla video below she explains the goal and concept behind the app:

 

 

All in all, a very interesting Dutch media artist,who combines art theory and practice in her work and has in doing so already produced an extensive body of media art pieces around the concept of “glitch”. Below are some links – in random order, of course – to get you viewing, playing and reading:

More info:

Found on ArtTube.nl: a very interesting documentary (in Dutch, but with English subtitles) about the issues of preserving digital and software driven art works over time.

As these art works are software or make use of software, they age very fast because computers, storage media, operating systems and programming languages develop rapidly. This poses a challenge for museums who buy these art works. The documentary illustrates this problem by discussing the preservation of works of artist Peter Struycken, the Dutch pioneer of 20th century digital art, whose works have been acquired by most Dutch contemporary art museums. An excellent opportunity to get acquainted with this important Dutch artist and some of these Dutch art museums:

 

 

More info:

Found today while browsing on YouTube: a video of the Parallels installation of Nonotak Studio, one of the highlights of the STRP Festival 2015 edition:

 

Nonotak Studio is a collaboration between illustrator Noemi Schipfer and architect musician Takami Nakamoto. Nonotak was created in late 2011.
In early 2013, they started to work on light and sound installations, capitalizing on Takami Nakamoto’s approach of space & sound, and Noemi Schipfer’s experience in kinetic visual design.

Parallels is an audio visual installation that was commissioned by the STRP festival.  It explores interactions between light, space and people within the room of the installation. The boundaries and notion of space, become abstract as the audience crosses the room, but in doing so, the audience also affects the space by breaking the light. This installation is strongly connected to the space in which it takes place; it lives within it. But as soon as the light hits the walls that define the space, it reaches its limits and stops reproducing itself.

More info:

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Soft Revolvers is an audiovisual performance by Canadian artist Myriam Bleau. She explores the limits between musical performance and digital arts, creating audiovisual systems that go beyond the screen and integrate hip hop, techno and pop elements.

For Soft Revolver she makes use of 4 spinning tops built with clear acrylic by the artist. Each top is associated with an ‘instrument’ in an electronic music composition and the motion data collected by sensors – placed inside the tops – informs musical algorithms:


With their large circular spinning bodies and their role as music playing devices, the interfaces evoke turntables and DJ culture, hip hop and dance music. LEDs placed inside the tops illuminate the body of the objects in a precise counterpoint to the music, creating stunning spinning halos:

Soft Revolvers was performed during the LEV Festival in Gijon in April and can also be seen at the upcoming Sonar festival in Barcelona at the end of this week.

More information:

A new laser-and-sound installation by Robert Henke a.k.a. Monolake: Fall.

Fall has apparently been inspired by the drowned Bavarian village Fall, as can be read on Robert’s website:

“In the 1950s the village of Fall in the south of Bavaria slowly disappeared under the rising waters of the newly built Sylvenstein water reservoir. In 2015 the reservoir had extremely low water. Ruins of the old village became visible again; remains of walls forming broken grid-like structures, usually submerged below the water surface. These images became the inspiration for this installation.”

It was premiered at the LEV Festival in Gijon, Spain in April. In his tech blog, Robert Henke explains how it was done.

More information:

Nowadays lots of media artists, musicians and music software and hardware products are dedicated to translating visuals into sounds and vice versa. One of the pioneers in this area of “visual sound” was a British electronic composer called Daphne Oram. She was one of the founders of the famous BBC Radiophonic Workshop in 1958. But after hearing Poème électronique of Edgar Varese at the Brussels World’s Fair, she decided to leave the BBC and start her own electronic music studio a year later, the Oramics Studios for Electronic Composition. In this studio, she made one of the first synthesizers and quite likely the first audiovisual synthesizer in the beginning of the 1960s: the Oramics Machine.

With this (of course) analogue and largely mechanical machine, she drew shapes and waveforms onto a synchronised set of ten 35mm film strips which overlayed a series of photo-electric cells. These cells in turn generated electrical charges to control amplitude, timbre, frequency and duration of sounds generated by oscillators. This audiovisual way of music composition was called “Oramics” by Daphne Oram:

Daphne Oram died in 2003 at the age of 77 and oramics and the Oramic Machine were forgotten. But in 2011 the Oramics Machine has been salvaged and now is part of the collection of the Science Museum in London. The videos below document the rescue of this pioneering synthesizer by the Science Museum and explain some of the groundbreaking audiovisual concepts behind it:

More information

Intrigued by optical sound, Mariska de Groot [NL] makes and performs comprehensive analog light-to-sound instruments and installations which explore this principle in new ways. Her work often has a reference to media inventions from the past, with which she aims to excite a multi-sensorial and phenomenological experiences in light, sound, movement and space.

CineChine

In CineChine you experience in physical proportions the phenomenon optical sound – an invention of the 1920’s applied in celluloid and synthesizers – where light and sound are a similar. Objects that remind of a disassembled movie machine are positioned in the room. For every exhibition a new side-specific composition is made:

Niburu

Nibiru is a mechanical performative installation wherein simple rhythmical body movements activates a squeaky pendulum drawing machine, that on its turn creates complex mathematical images. Noises of friction are amplified and sound patterns are created by light-sensitive speakers that scan the changing projected geometric line image:

More information:

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