blink blink

My exhibition at HKS contained two new installations, both named blink. The first blink has already been mentioned.

In the cellar of the gallery I set up an artificial sundial, 24 leds placed in a circle, moving the shadows of the people standing within the circle.

I used the dimsun lighting system which I made this summer, based on power LEDs and arduino controlled LED drivers (TLC5940).

blink

Last week my exhibition blink opened at HKS in Bergen, Norway. It consists of two new installations and documentation of the main projects I have done during my research fellowship.

In the basement I have a light-sound installation, with 24 bright LEDs placed in a circle in the ceiling, animating the shadow of the visitor.

In the main space I have a video projection-sound installation, where I project into/onto the gallery space.

Since my project the last three years has focused on improvising with spaces, transforming them using image, light and sound, I decided for this exhibition to go all the way and work with two empty spaces.

You can see an excerpt of the projection installation here:

more images of the installation.

I will come back with documentation of the light-shadow installation.

HKS asked the australian artist and writer Mitchell Whitelaw to write a text about my work.

signs of life

It´s been awfully quiet from me the last few months, and that´s not because I have not been working, on the contrary.
I spent the summer testing out ideas for my research fellowship exhibition in october, which resulted in the creation of a new lighting system, “dimsun” (more about this in a later post), and a new version of VPT (videoprojectiontools) which will soon be available.

I have also spent some time on writing, I just came back from two weeks at NKD in Dale in Sunnfjord, a fantastic place to be for concentrated work.

A few things coming up:

Tomorrow I will be part of a BUU screening in Köln, where they will screen Shiva.

In the beginning of october I will be part of Experimental 3 in Osaka, where h.k.mark1 will be screened as part of a lowave program.

(both of these videos are on my Cityscapes dvd)

I would also like to recommend Michelle Teran´s project “The city is creative” which is part of flux/s in Eindhoven, september 10th-13th.

The space between my ears

Perceptual meltdown after Granular Synthesis retrospective at the STRP festival in Eindhoven, in the old Philips facilities in the Strijp area.

The festival´s focus this year was a retrospective on maximalists austrian media art group Granular Synthesis. It was a unique opportunity to see a lot of the group´s work as well as newer work by the two members Ulf Langheinrich and Kurt Hentschläger. If you have ever seen any of their work before you would guess that this would be an overkill event, and you are right. The works are intense audiovisual bombardements, they physically attack your senses and that does something with your body and mind.
The Granular Synthesis performance installations POL and modell 5 are large scale multiple projections with a corresponding large sound system, which worked well in their monumental way in the factory space.
The solo works are not that large-scale, but more intense. Ulf Langheinrich showed Hemisphere (which I mentioned earlier from the exhibition “from spark to pixel”) and Drifter. Kurt Hentschläger showed Cluster and Zee, which could be seen as offsprings from his ARS electronica performance Feed in 2007. Zee is basically a room filled with smoke, with stroboscopic images projected into the smoke. You loose all reference to the physical space and experience psychedelic visions.

All their works relate to perception, and it was an interesting coincidence that I was reading The Space between our Ears while I was at the festival.

It was a bit strange to experience Granular Synthesis at STRP, since the audience is mainly a quite young techno crowd, and the difference between a trippy techno party and an installation like Zee is pretty vague.

Apart from the retro media artists there wasn´t so much of interest at the festival, the exhibition was a mix of two trends in the media art scene: The commodification of media art on the one side: beautiful objects in perfect collector size, and the technology fascination on the other side.

The Strijp area contains more than the festival. It is the site of the former Philips research lab Natlab, in the art world probably best known for the creation of le poéme electronique, a collaboration between LeCorbusier, Varese and Xenakis for the World Expo in Brussels in 1958 (I will probably write a bit more about this in a separate post).

The old Natlab is now dead, but last fall Baltan laboratories emerged in another part of the Strijp complex, a media lab with a fantastic space and with interesting artists like Telcosystems and Geert Muul involved. I will give a presentation there in the end of may as part of their monthly public Natlab sessions.

in the dutch mountains

hc shrinked, originally uploaded by hc gilje.

Last week I did a short dutch “tour”, seeing some interesting performances and exhibitions.
I am only going into detail on one of them, but would like to briefly mention the others.

I had the opportunity to see work from two of the artists speaking at my seminar this fall, Kirsten Dehlholm from Hotel Proforma and Lawrence Malstaf.

Hotel Proforma was showing their now classic Orfeo opera, at Zaantheater. The performance combines the choreographed singers from the Latvian radio choir with a very effective set-design. The set-design seems to be quite inspired by Svoboda, with a endless staircase inside a large frame being lit in many different ways to create a quite dynamic image.

More images from Orfeo

Lawrence Malstaf was given the ART & TECHNOLOGY AWARD 2008 Witteveen + Bo at the Lebuinuskeerk in Deventer where he presented two works, shrink and The Long Now.

More images from Shrink and The Long Now

I was invited to see a tryout of “Licht is de Machine”, a music theater performance by Veenfabriek. My interest in it was mainly Joost Rekvelds kinetic light installation which disappointingly was only in the last 10 minutes of a 2 hour performance. The performance was in a huge hangar outside Leiden, and also here the stage was using a frame.

more images from Licht is de Machine

I saw two good exhibitions in Amsterdam, “Speaking out Loud” at the Netherland Media Art Institute and a spooky exhibition about voodoo in Haiti at the Tropenmuseum.

more voodoo images

Finally, I went to see the dutch group Hotel Modern in Köln, but you can read more about that in a separate post.

shift v2: relief projection installation

shift v.2, originally uploaded by hc gilje.

I decided to give my current series of relief projections a name, shift: moving from one place to another, changing the emphasis, direction or focus of something. It also has a loose relation to the idea of shapeshifting.
As mentioned in my previous posts about my relief projection projects, shift combines multichannel sequencing, audio generated from video (soundtransducer inside every box, the sound you hear is directly related to the video projected on that particular box), with masking/mapping a projection to fit physical objects. This creates a dynamic audiovisual landscape, a spatial light painting.
The software to create the installation has developed over almost two years and some workshops, and I have shown documentation of the development, but never exhibited it as a final work.
It is only this autumn that I have found the right opportunity to show it in an exhibition. I was invited to participate in the Total Aktion exhibition at Museet for Samtidskunst in Roskilde, Denmark. I had the opportunity to exhibit there in 2005 as part of Get Real, a exhibition with real-time art as the focus (which was also shown at Kiasma in Helsinki, Finland). It also resulted in the book where I wrote the essay “Within the space of a moment”.


Shift became a sort of drone installation, with slow light/colour changes of volume, sometimes cut off by sharp white planes. The video documentation is a cut version showing some of the different scenes. Here is a slide show of still images.

(youtube link to the same video, if someone prefers that)

The software used is an expansion of the videoprojectiontool available here.

lights out?

Park, originally uploaded by hc gilje.

I am not the most efficient blogger I have to admit, but its been a very busy period the last 2 months. Here is a short summary of my activities, I will elaborate on some of them in later posts:

After the opening of the wind-up birds in end of august I organised the seminar Conversations with spaces at Bergen Kunsthall Landmark, which was a success. I will most likely get the chance to see the work of two of the speakers, Lawrence Malstaf and Kirsten Dehlholm in november in Holland.

Straight after the seminar I went to New York, mainly to follow the conflux festival, but also to catch up with some people. I went to Kurt Ralske´s closing day of his show at the MFA Computer Art Gallery, I was at the opening of Luc deBois´ exhibition at bitforms, I saw Olafur Eliassons huge rotating mirror at PS1 and his waterfalls, the Buckministerfuller show at moma.
I hung out with Keiko Uenishi (oblaat) at conflux and share, Eric Redlinger showed me the mrmr application, Carrie Dashow explained her concept of live video editing for multiple cameras.
I had planned to get in touch with Eyebeam, but after two months of not answering my emails I gave up. 

The next two weeks I spent in a monastery cell of the grey brothers in Roskilde, Denmark, preparing for my installation Shift at Museet for Samtidskunst. It is part of a show called Total Aktion (on until christmas).

On my way back from Denmark I met the wind-up birds who had settled down at the airport in Oslo, celebrating the 10 year anniversary of the airport.

Right after that some of them flew to Morocco, which is where I spent the last week as well. This was part of the Brussels biennale.

wind-up bird(s)

Introducing a new species, the wind-up birds.
The wind-up birds are a flock of mechanical woodpeckers, having found their first home in a forest in Lillehammer, Norway as part of the UT-21 project.

How will nature treat them, with hostillity or acceptance? How will the wind-up birds adapt to heat/cold wet/dry conditions? Will small insects creep inside the circuitry creating possible short circuits, beetles eat the wood, squirrels use the wood slit as nut storage (or the roof as a slide?), birds use it as a shelter, etc.? Will they be treated as foreign objects or accepted into the local eco-system?
How do real woodpeckers react? Are they threatened, attracted, or not bothered? Will they use the roof as a pecking drum?
Initial tests indicate an attraction: it took 15 minutes for a real woodpecker to join a wind-up bird on the same tree.

Adding a layer to the perceived reality:
The sound of the wind-up birds easily fool humans. The initial reaction is surprise, and then bewilderment, as there seems to be a whole flock of birds communicating. Then the curiosity of trying to track them down, to localize the sound, becoming more aware of the surroundings, sharpening the senses.
This was the initial motivation for me, the movement of sound in a space, and the effort involved in trying to localize the source of the sounds which lead to a stimulation of our perceptive apparatus.
By introducing an element or layer which somehow relates to the environment, but still is a bit off (It is very unlikely to hear a flock of woodpeckers drumming at the same time, and it is usually restricted to the mating season in the spring), you perceive the reality differently. This could be called an animalistic alertness, one of the three listening modes described by Barthes  (Listening).
This project is related to my soundpockets project, and as with that work I feel it is somehow more interesting when people happen upon it by chance, instead of looking for a piece of art in the forest.

The development of the wind-up birds have gone through a lot of phases:
It was important for me that the sound produced was not playback of a recorded sound, but mechanically produced, so I looked at many different ways of creating resonance boxes and ended up with a construction resembling a wood block: a piece of wood with a slit. I ended up using a simple push-magnet solenoid for the mechanical part.
The first prototype was an arduino board, the solenoid and the woodblock, trying to find the right pecking frequency for the solenoid, and testing different woodblock designs.
I decided to add a roof, to protect the wood and circuitry from heavy rain.

Since the wind-up birds are communicating, they needed to be in a wireless network. I decided early to use the xbee radios which are programmable, low-energy, high speed radio modems which can work in a mesh network.
A lot of effort was put into creating and deciphering xbee datapackets to be used in the arduino/processing environment.
Energy consumption was an important factor in the project, since the wind-up birds would be in a forest with no access to electricity and should be active for a month. One strategy was to use low-power components. It´s amazing the difference between two voltage regulators for instance when they have to be on for a month(the difference in consumption was the size of the battery I ended up using for the whole project).
I also decided to use a low power version of the arduino, basically just the microcontroller chip running at half speed (which meant using a AVR programmer to program the chips).
The other important factor in reducing energy consumption was to make use of the xbee and arduino´s capability to go to sleep when inactive. I decided the wind-up birds would be pecking about every 5 minutes, and inbetween they would sleep. Also at night they would be sleeping.
After having decided upon the components to be used, I designed a prototype circuit, which was later made into a proper circuit board making it easier to mass produce the birds.
It took a lot of trial and error to get the wind-up birds alive and pecking in the lab, but I had a pretty reliable setup when I placed them in the forest. The challenge in the forest was to find interesting locations within the range of the network, and to find interesting pecking patterns. I ended up making a system where the pecking pattern is different everytime, so it wouldn´t become a simple playback of movement, but a dynamic system.

More images of the wind-up birds

thanks to Tom Igoe, Jeff Mann, Kristian Skjold and Roar Sletteland for helping me realize this project.

Here is a link to the first technical post related to the project, which covers how to program and hook up a atmega168 as a minimal arduino standalone, using the internal oscillator running at 8mhz and 3.3 volts.

UT-21: polish norwegian art project

UT-21 is an art project that invites 7 Polish and 7 Norwegian artists to work in Lillehammer- Norway, outside galleries and Museums.
The name UT-21 reflects two things:

  • UT can simply mean ”out” (of the Museum) or ”without title”

  • 21 refers to the fact that in 1987 there was a similar art project in Lillehammer with Polish and Norwegian artists and that in 2008 it will be 21 years since this took place.

‘UT-21’ presents interventionistic art which comprises land art, urban interventions etc. Interventionistic art means art projects which in one way or another include or reflect the physic, social or mental structures associated to a special place. The works are often characterized by being temporary and procedural. Points of contact with daily life and the surroundings we all relate to in a close and natural way, the landscape and the urban environment, may enable the communication between the work of art and the observer to become both more unpredictable and immediate than an encounter with art in a traditional setting. We want to create an exciting and intensive meeting between art and public, between art from Poland and Norway, in the tradition art outside galleries, in 2008 in Lillehammer.

Participating artists:

Jan Berdyszak, Teresa Murak, Janusz Baldyga, Egil Martin Kundøl, Marit Arnekleiv, Leszek Golec, Tatiana Czekalska, Marte Aas, HC Gilje, Elzbieta Jablonska, Anna Widén, Oskar Dawicki, Maciej Kurak, Maksymilian Skorwider, Grim Erland Lyng Svingen, Victoria Pihl Lind.

Images of some of the projects

the UT-21 website

spring sightings

nodio five-aside 2008, originally uploaded by hc gilje.

the last few months have been packed with lab work and a few public appearances.
I made a 5-channel nodio installation as part of a group show at Visningsrommet USF in Bergen, trying to develop further the idea of composing a circular audiovisual composition.
A few more images can be found here.

HKmark1 was part of a program curated by Per Platou, shown at the FESTIVAL INTERNATIONAL DE FILM ET VIDEO DE CREATION in Beirut, Lebanon. The day after the screening the rest of the festival was cancelled due to the violence in Beirut.

The queen is the supreme power of the realm, the piece commissioned by ZKM and Musikfabrik in 2007, was performed at this years Moers festival in Germany, on may 9th. The Moers festival looks like any summer rock festival, with a camping ground, people in a good mood (for various reasons), a wide selection of temporary tatoos, hair extensions, falafels etc. What is different is that it is a jazz/impro festival (for instance John Zorn was playing later the same evening), and the main venue is a huge circus tent. It was also a first for this festival to present a contemporary music ensemble like Musikfabrik.