|Kerstin Ergenzinger in cooperation with Thom Laepple, Whiskers in Space 2010|
photo courtesy of the artist and VG Bild-Kunst Bonn
Nature, so often yearned for in the dark spaces of media arts, is the theme upon which the exhibition hinged. Kerstin Ergenzinger (Germany), Yi Ping Yang and Guillaume Marmin (France), Yun-Ju Chen (Taiwan) and Chih-Chieh Huang (Taiwan) each tackle this theme distinctively, calling attention to our immediate surroundings and the global context, the metaphorical and the literal.
Kerstin Ergenzinger’s Whiskers in Space is the pièce de résistance. It engages the participant with an array of forms clumped in three groups on the gallery floor. More immediately suggesting a field of grass than whiskers, they are rough-cut airplane foam, peaking to knee-high blades. As one walks through the room, they move, bend and stretch from side to side and jitter as though stimulated by some sudden neural impulse or vibrated by a mysterious wind. In fact, wind is the critical element defining the work; not that of a blustery sea-side, but a micro-scale, unfelt wind that might trigger goose-bumps on the back of your neck for reasons bewitching and unknown. These micro-currents, impacted by our movement through the exhibition space, trigger the seemingly uncanny animation of the whiskers.
Whiskers in Space is constructed to draw the participant closer to the experience of nature not by granting the instant response expected of computing technology, but randomising and delaying the data received by changes in the air in the room. The system has been fastidiously tested by the artist to present a balance between audience expectation and the denial of immediate gratification, which is deferred but not absent. Ergenzinger’s creation is poetic and mesmerising, belying the speed imperative characteristic of the digital age—it is enough merely to sit and watch the slowly undulating forms move in mysterious ways. It is also compelling to feel responsible for their movement, in much the same way our actions yield consequences, small and large, of which we’re largely unaware, upon the natural world.
|Guillaume Marmin and Yi Ping Yang, Around the Island 2011|
photo courtesy of the artists
|Yun-Ju Chen, Starry Starry Night|
photo courtesy of the artist
|Chih-Chieh Huang, LBSkeleton Lite|
photo courtesy of the artist
The artists in this Digital Arts Centre exhibition, for better or worse, endeavoured to create works that act as extensions of the sensorium in relation to our experience of the ever ambiguous concept of nature. They imaged, imagined and constructed nature in terms of both our symbolic and real relations to the fragile yet fierce organic world that surrounds us. It is undeniable that nature today, as demonstrated in this exhibition, is ever enculturated. But defining nature through the technological cannot help but risk falling into to this problematic terrain.
Digital Arts Centre, Cluster: 5th Digital Art Festival, Taipei, Nov 26-Dec 5, 2010; www.dac.tw/daf10
This article was fist published online, Jan 17, 2010
RealTime issue #101 Feb-March 2011 pg. web
© Laetitia Wilson; for permission to reproduce apply to firstname.lastname@example.org