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Digital Surface Conference, Tate Britain, London

Tate Britain hosted the conference "digital surface - approaches to current research in contemporary art practice" from 27th-28th of June 2003, organised by Paul Coldwell.
The titel could be taken quite literal, as most of the artists seemed to have just recently discovered the computer and discussed Photoshop filters, layers and also got a bit lost in the idea of the Aura, and the relationship between the original and its copies from the digital point of view.
It was a kind of Deja Vu of 1987-93, when the hype about VR, Cyberspace was at its top, and the very same topics where discussed at dozens of Festivals, Conferences, Seminars and Symposiums by Virilio, Baudrillard, Myron Kruger, Jaron Lanier, Vilém Flusser, Peter Weibel, Friedrich Kittler, Florian Rötzer etc..
Yet here with the delay of decade. Welcome to the real world.

Three presentations at the conference made it worth going for me:
Char Davies's presentation of her works Osmose and Ephémère. One navigates through here surrealistic worlds with a HMD and ones Breath (!) as navigational control element, Char described the effects that her works had upon visitors as:

"the after-effect of immersion in Osmose can be quite profound. Immersants often feel as if they have rediscovered an aspect of themselves, of being alive in the world, which they had forgotten, an experience which many find surprising, and some very emotional."

"immersants experience a shift of awareness in which the urge for action is replaced by contemplative free-fall."

These effects are currently being researched by some people, one of them Hal Thwaits.
And that relates quite a lot to the focus of my research.
Her website is and the effects are documented as well.

Then there was a presentation of the artist Anthony Hobbs - The Representation of Reality
"An investigation into the notional virtual space created by an audience when they suspend their disbelieve while looking at high resolution digital images."
(This is just working because it is something new, like Panorama Rotundas in the 17th century.)

His work was less interesting then the presentation itself, its form:
It started with an explanation of our perception of vision,
phovial vision vs. peripheral vision, fore-ground and background,
depth of field. Extraordinary in its way of describing the complex in a simple, clear and concise manner. Beautiful examples with simple pictures taken in a park somewhere.
The whole logic, of it, starting with an image of the object itself.
(Reminding a bit of Rene Magrittes "ceci n'est pas une pipe")
Continuing with the "visual depth of loop" which adds a second layer to the image,
and examples of "how to read a photograph".
Then a little excursion into Black/White, with the difference what the human eye, and what the camera, what the printer would "see". Examples: Panoramapictures, 25mm pictures etc.
introducing his 48MegaPixel Camera with some creative mistakes it was making.
Then the actual presentation of his work began.
It was one of the best presentations i have seen, explaining a complicated matter in an
clear and concise yet entertaining and funny way.

Maria Mencia - "Generating Chirography in an Electronic Surface",
was an exploration of transforming handwriting and doodles into an audible experience
of male and female voices.
As only individual she made a kind of performance out of her "audible writing experiments", and several members of the audience had her software on their laptops and for a view minutes there was a kind of a dialogue going on between the big presentation in the front and the little satellites echoing from the audience. Very impressive. It was a creative way of breaking the usual presentation mode, choreography and monotony.
She also presented her morphing alphabet letters trying, as far as i understood, to create new sounds out of these. I very good and interesting presentation.

The documentation was very good, containing introductions of and by the speakers and a CD with movies and texts.

last update: 8/11/02013 22:26

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