Technology Requested works

27 November 2010 – 6 February 2011

Exhibition with Alfredo Ciannameo, Sonia Cillari, Kirsten Geisler, Edwin van der Heide, Marnix de Nijs and Christiaan Zwanikken

Work by artists who apply new technologies to initiate interaction with their audience will be central to the exhibition Technology Requested. The artworks only come to life when the visitor enters the artwork's physical space.

With the exhibition Technology Requested Heiner Holtappels will be saying his farewell as general and artistic director of the Netherlands Media Art Institute. Heiner Holtappels has held that position since1998, and wraps up his work here as of the end of February, 2011. The artists in the exhibition have a special relation with the Netherlands Media Art Institute, with their work having been shown a number of times at the Institute during the past twelve years. Technology Requested shows new installations that were realized in 2010. For example, the performance-installation by Sonia Cillari was created this year as an Artist in Residence project at the NIMk.

Marnix de Nijs (1970, NL, lives and works in Rotterdam, NL)
Physiognomic Scrutinizer 2010

The design of the Physiognomic Scrutinizer is based on the security gates that are such a prominent presence at airports, football stadiums, shopping centers and other guarded public places. Visitors are channeled in the direction of a brightly lit entrance, where a camera mounted there takes pictures of every visitor and projects them on a LCD monitor behind the gate. Two speakers on tripods that stand immediately behind the gate function as symbolic security guards. With the aid of biometric video software the installation senses and researches the faces of those who enter the exhibition through the gate.

Rather than seeking to identify the persons, the software searches for facial characteristics that correspond with those of more than 250 previously selected individuals who have been entered in its database. The persons included in the database were chosen for their controversial or notorious acts. Based on the findings of the software, the visitor walking through the gate is then accused of the infamous act that was committed by the match involved. Subsequently audio fragments can be heard that concern this controversy and the comparison process is to be seen on a LCD monitor behind the gate, where everyone can watch....

In his artistic practice De Nijs emphasizes the way in which culture influences our senses. He expresses this in various ways, and to do so makes use of ever-changing technologies. In this manner he also emphasizes the role that is reserved for the artist in our technological culture. De Nijs himself describes his work as “an acknowledgement of the dynamic collision of bodies, machines and other media.” In his work technology must literally interact with the body of the visitor, so that it plays a definitive role in the visitor's perception.

Sonia Cillari (1970, IT, lives and works in Amsterdam, NL)
Sensitive to Pleasure, 2010

ensitive to Pleasure, a component of Cillari's project The Body as Interface, is a work about conflict, an intimate piece in which the artist emphasizes her controversial relationship with her own work in front of the public.
During the performance Cillari stands outside the door of a dark Ambisonic cube, where she grants entry to only one visitor at a time. The cube features her work, a naked female (the 'creature'), which reveals the sound of its body when it comes in contact with other human beings. The physical interaction between the creature and the visitor is linked to the artist's body via electrical pulses, provoking a strong physical experience for her which is painful, but might also be considered pleasant. Cillari uses the visitor to gain a physical experience about her work.
The intimacy between the visitor and the creature inside will not be documented in order to guarantee intimacy and allow the visitor to fully experience the work through involvement and exposure. Cillari wants to explore ways in which visitors may interact with the creature, knowing that their behavior causes a strong physical reaction on the artist outside the cube. At the same time, Cillari explores the notion of voyeurism within the audience, watching her while she ‘experiences’ her own work of art.
A path of lights guides the visitor to the entrance of the cube and the lights' subtle changes reflect the encounters between the visitor and the creature, enhancing the sensuality of the work.

Sensitive to Pleasure is an homage to Pygmalion (Ovid's Metamorphoses), the sculptor who falls in love with a statue he created. This work deals with an inverted relationship of control between the creator and his own creation. The physical connection between them represents keeping each other alive, a metaphor of mutually dependent relationship.

In her interactive installations, that lie at the intersection of architecture and performance, Cillari is involved in the creation of sensory and perceptual mechanisms in immersive and augmented environments. Her artistic investigation examines how patterns of consciousness, perception and identity emerge in such settings. Over the last years she has been specifically interested in a field of research concerning the ‘Body as Interface’.

The installation is a co-production by STEIM, NIMk and Claudio Buziol Foundation (Venice). Supported by Fonds BKVB and Optofonica Laboratory for Immersive ArtScience, Amsterdam. /

Kirsten Geisler (Germany, lives and works in Haarlem, Netherlands)
Maya Brush, firstlife 2010

At 6:00 p.m. on JFebruary 4, 2011, Maya Brush, a 'Homo Virtualis', will be born . A virtual sculpture who at that moment enters the real world for the first time. Maya is the first virtual beauty to be created solely by the computer – an artificial body which is oriented to human ideals of beauty, yet comes into being entirely virtual, without being created from any real model. Maya has been developed over the past three years by the artist Kirsten Geisler.

As a virtual model she represents the dream of perfect pulchritude. Maya the digital beauty stands for all prefab-girls, the standardized, technically modeled beauties that are propagated in advertising and the media.

Starting from the opening of the Technology Requested exhibition, on November 26 2010, her DNA structure and countdown And on February 4 the worlds first virtual birth takes place at NIMk. This is also to be followed on-line After the birth Maya can be reached via her facebook page:

Just like a real model periodicals and glossy magazines will be writing about her. Her life will be exposed to viewers on television and YouTube. These “real” appearances in the media will be virtual performances. Already Maya has bookings with famous fashion photographers and fashion designers.

As a virtual art figure she is the first sculpture who performs in the real medial world. As a digital beauty, in the future she will no longer be seen exclusively in international museums and art institutions. Maya will be transformed into a literal 'art figure' who seeks real media publicity, and will use this public forum to make her way back into the art world.

Since the mid-1990s Geisler has been occupied with the representation of the three-dimensional body in a virtual space and with the construction and manipulation of beauty. In Geisler's works the virtual person is a symbol for the reflection of our dreams: young, beautiful, slender, normal, healthy, and of course, never aging. Thus Geisler contributes to the social debates over virtuality, digitization and the construction of identity. Geisler's works comment on the ideal of beauty and the delusions about beauty in contemporary society and the increasing digitization and virtualization of the world.

This Facebook site opens after her birth on February 4:

Christiaan Zwanikken (1967, NL, lives and works in Amsterdam, NL)
Frantic Diggers (Scorched-earth Tactics), 2010

Frantic Diggers is a post-apocalyptic, interactive landscape comprised of metals and ores from a toxic, abandoned copper mine. More than two-hundred small electromechanical machines, operated by micro-controllers, cause the landscape to move and vibrate in a staccato manner as the little machines react to the presence of the visitor. Electromechanical elements are also concealed in the landscape, which go off unexpectedly as if they were fully armed land mines. With this work Zwanikken offers his commentary on the might that seems to principally lie with those who possess the most powerful technology: the weapons, oil, financial and pharmaceutical industries, and the media. Others are allowed to have some paltry fragments of these technologies at their disposal, to keep them quiet.

Surrounded by the installation, the visitor gets the feeling of having taken a jump forward in time, to a not too distant future. In this scenario all forms of flora and fauna are extinct, and to prevent the planet from collapsing totally, the remains of animals and machines have been assembled into units that populate the world. These artificial animals function as autonomous beings; they are intelligent, and are not amenable to control. Sometimes there are hitches in the micro-processors or individual robots wiped out. In such cases their remains are reused for new machines. And the human race? There is no trace of them to be found in Zwanikken's futuristic world. Human beings exist yet only as a memory.

An alternative (and more positive) scenario is also possible: here men, animals, machines and their hybrid forms exist peacefully and symbiotically alongside one another in a world from which war and illness have long since been banished. Technology and nature complement each other and profit from one another. There is no trace of rivalry; to put it even more strongly, thanks to this cooperation the earth's ecosystem was saved at the last moment.

Irrespective of the scenario chosen, Zwanikken's installation sparks the imagination. Biotechnology is made manifest and the body has become technological. Or is it the other way around? Every day we work with machines, and human intelligence and the body are in the service of that equipment. On the other hand, we use the capacities of machines to compensate for our own shortcomings. We have prostheses like mobile telephones, remote controls and laptops with us so often that life without these appliances has become unthinkable.
Zwanikken's installations and mechanical constructions have their origins in nature. He incorporates animal remains and other organic material into the kinetic sculptures and machines with which he 'breathes new life' into the material. His installations are characterized by a degree of anthropomorphism, and he makes a connection between the lifeless material and the living world. As a rule his installations demonstrate human or animal conduct and thus serve as a handle for investigating and critiquing nature and behavior.

Alfredo Ciannameo (1979, IT, lives and works in Den Haag, NL)
Ionesis, 2010

Ionesis is a sonic plasma performance/installation consisting of three multi-electrode discharge tubes which were originally invented by the scientist Nikola Tesla. These 'tubes' transform six electronic audio channels into twelve high voltage sources, initiating an electro-sonic reaction in light plasma as a result. The focus of the work lies in investigating the discharging qualities of plasma . When an electrode discharges, the electric field generated by this (electrode) is attracted by other electric fields also discharging electrodes within the tube. This results visually into a complex configuration of light cells that are intertwined with one another. The conduction of light is synchronized with the sound in the space. Based on the synaesthetic relation between the light and acoustics in the space, Ionesis conjures up an immersive audio-visual experience .

In 2010 Alfredo Ciannameo obtained his Masters in Music from the Interfaculty of ArtScience at the KABK and KONCON in Den Haag. The artist began his practice with seeking out new possibilities for 'sono-visualization' of images that he generated and manipulated live. After that Ciannameo developed instruments in which he used the principles of physics to create immersive environments for 'synaesthetic ' experiences.

Edwin van der Heide (1970, NL, lives and works in Rotterdam, NL)
Evolving Spark Network (preview)

The installation Evolving Spark Network is comprised of a grid of electric spark-gaps that fill the whole exhibition space. Together these spark-gaps form a field above the visitors. Metaphorically the sparks in this installation function as the electric pulses with which the nerves in our body convey information. Like the neurons in our body, the spark-gaps here also form a complex network. Therefore they cannot be thought of as a hierarchic process that determines audiovisual patterns; image and sound are the result of the relations between the individual cells in the network.

The energy generated by the movement of the visitors, as measured by sensors and then included as pulses within the network, is added to this. The visitors activate the network in this way, and enter into a dialogue with it. The rules of the network change during this dialogue, constantly challenging the visitor anew. The communicating spark-gaps are a form of artificial life that is ‘linked’ with the physical world.

Evolving Spark Network is a sound and light installation; the sparks produce a light and sound that is entirely unique. In this work the electric spark represents beauty, simplicity and purity. A spark is one of the most elementary ways of generating light. The pulse produced is the shortest possible sound and the composition that comes out of these pulses can be regarded as one of the most fundamental forms of composition in time and space.

Van der Heide is an artist and researcher in the field of sound, space and interaction. In his work he transfers and extends the principles of composition and musical language to the spatial, interactive and interdisciplinary. His oeuvre is comprised of installations, performances and environments in which the audience is central, and are challenged to actively investigate the work and enter into an interaction or relation with it.

The setup of Evolving Spark Network in the NIMk is a preview of the ultimate installation. The work was developed as a co-production of Edwin van der Heide with V2_Lab.