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7-16 June 2013

 Da Contents H2

July 24 2013
Past-present tensions
Keith Gallasch, Naala-Ba (Look Future), Carriageworks and ISEA2013

July 3 2013
Data noise & the limits of dance
Keith Gallasch, Myriam Gourfink & Kaspar Toeplitz, Breathing Monster

June 26 2013
Nailing the virtual
Virginia Baxter, Keith Gallasch, The Portals

Night work
Keith Gallasch, Embodied Media, Night Rage

Palpable virtualities
Keith Gallasch, Paula Dawson, Holoshop: Drawing and Perceiving in Depth

The big connect
Somaya Langley, The Portals

Transformational walking
Anne Phillips, Long Time, No See?

June 18 2013
Musical multiverses
Gail Priest, Polysonics

Rainbow over ISEA
Keith Gallasch, Electric Nights

realtime tv @ ISEA2013: Zydnei, Troy Innocent

June 17 2013
If a system fails in a forest, is anybody listening?
Urszula Dawkins, If a system fails in a forest…, 107 Projects

June 16 2013
In the digital age, love your stationery obsession
Urszula Dawkins, Durational Book

Painting by algorithms
Keith Gallasch, Ernest Edmonds: Light Logic

June 15 2013
Home, sweet home
Urszula Dawkins, disSentience, Sleeth, SelgasCano, Tin Sheds

Pop up pleasure zones
Gail Priest, Electronic Art Pop-Ups, The Rocks

June 14 2013
Aural ecologies, mechanical and musical
Urszula Dawkins, EchoSonics, UTS Gallery

June 14 2013
Heck, baby, I shoulda seen it comin…
Urszula Dawkins, The Very Near Future, Alex Davies

More than meets the eye
Virginia Baxter, Keith Gallasch, Point of View

New tools and old skool grammars
Gail Priest, Macrophonics II

realtime tv @ ISEA2013: The very near future, Alex Davies

Start by leaping off a small stool
Urszula Dawkins, ISEA Closing Keynote Address: Julian Assange

June 13 2013
A curative dose of spontaneity
Lauren Carroll Harris, pvi collective, Deviator

M e d i a a r t t h e n a n d n o w
Darren Tofts, Catching Light, Campbelltown Arts Centre

Olfaction, decay & speculation
Gail Priest, Raewyn Turner & Brian Harris, Ian Haig, Nandita Kumar, Verge Gallery

Riding the theta waves
Urszula Dawkins, Theta Lab, George Poonkhin Khut and James Brown

Run for your lives [2]
Keith Gallasch, Running the City, COFA, UNSW

To re-map and reclaim
Lisa Gye, Mapping Culture [panel]

Turning the media back on itself
Lisa Gye, Mark Hosler, Adventures in Illegal Art

June 12 2013
Outside the labyrinth…looking in at someone waving
Urszula Dawkins, SoundLabyrinth, Mark Pedersen and Roger Alsop

realtime tv @ ISEA2013: semipermeable (+), SymbioticA

Run for your lives [1]
Keith Gallasch, Marnix de Nijs, Run Motherfucker Run

June 12 2013
The uncanny in the gallery
Keith Gallasch, Mari Velonaki, Simon Ingram, Petra Gemeinboeck & Rob Saunders, Artspace

June 11 2013
realtime tv @ ISEA2013: EchoSonics, UTS Gallery

The science and art of tangible things
Urszula Dawkins, Synapse: A Selection, Powerhouse

Touch me there
Gail Priest, ISEA Artist talks: Siu, Baumann, Velonaki

June 10 2013
Being Stelarc
Gail Priest, Stelarc: Meat, Metal, Code: Engineering affect and aliveness

Life and death, and the membranes inbetween
Urszula Dawkins, semipermeable (+), SymbioticA

realtime tv @ ISEA2013: Catching Light, Campbelltown Arts Centre

June 9 2013
'Pure' experience, in the round
Urszula Dawkins, Pure Land, iCinema

Data lives
Gail Priest, Genevieve Bell, Mark Hosler, Paolo Cirio & Alessandro Ludovico

realtime tv @ ISEA2013: Velonaki, Ingram, Gemeinboeck & Saunders, Artspace

June 8 2013
Knowing your place in Cartesian space
Gail Priest, Ryoji Ikeda, datamatics [ver 2.0]

Stars and starlings, pixels and picknickers
Urszula Dawkins, Ryoji Ikeda, datamatics [ver 2.0] & test pattern


'Pure' experience, in the round

Urszula Dawkins, Pure Land, iCinema

Pure Land: Inside the Mogao Grottoes at Dunhuang Pure Land: Inside the Mogao Grottoes at Dunhuang
courtesy iCinema
The 742 world-heritage-listed caves of Dunhuang were laboriously carved out of a sandstone escarpment in north-western China. Their Buddhist murals are both astonishing and highly fragile – the oldest are well over 2000 years old. Pure Land recreates one of them, Cave 220, at 1:1 scale in virtual 3D.

Essentially, Pure Land is a diorama, which we’re guided through by creator Sarah Kenderdine. Donning virtual-3D glasses we enter the circular space. At first, it appears like any other interpretive display – it’s an in-the-round photo representation of the sandstone cliffs over which hover thumbnails denoting different caves. Kenderdine selects Cave 220 and we’re off…

Plunged into darkness, our first glimpse of the cave walls is via a pale circle of torchlight which dully illuminates patches of the intricate artwork on the walls: this is what a visitor to the physical cave would see, and it’s easy to imagine the damp smell, the dust underfoot. Then the mode is switched and we see the entire cave and its majestic figures, and the extension and limits of the space become palpable – it feels like we’re ‘really there’ – which is ironic, of course, because the obscured, 2D ‘torch view’ is actually closer to the ‘real’ experience.

From here, we’re subject to the whims of a floating circle – reference to the magnifying glass which a scholar of the artworks might use in the caves. It hovers like a perfect smoke ring away from the wall, homes in and clicks, magnifying details in larger circles that hang at arm’s length from the viewer. A range of effects brings to life aspects of the murals – restoring the original, vibrant pigments to some sections, enlarging details or animating objects – lanterns are lit and ribbons flutter. Oxidised figures regain their skin tones. Stringed and percussion instruments float off the walls and rotate to the sounds of traditional music.

It’s a museum display, an experience of art rather than an ‘art experience’. And yet two 3D-animated dancers with twirling ribbons are magical: at around 2/3 human stature it’s as though their size becomes a metaphor for their distance from us across time. They are there in the space in front of us, oblivious to us, moving in perfect unison and we are voyeurs of their ancient world. This image, of all, sticks in my mind after leaving.

The utter opposite of Ryoji Ikeda’s datamatics [ver 2.0], Pure Land aims at pure representation of the real. But as Kenderdine explains, it’s not simply an ‘interactive experience’ designed only for the museum visitor or to preserve the caves. To understand the murals themselves, she says, requires a spatial relationship: the alignment of figures in the actual caves – north, south, east or west – is crucial, and grasping the meaning of the murals requires a knowledge not only of the figures, objects and elements, but of their spatial relationship to one another.

Pure Land is also located firmly in the notion of verity – unlike one of its (now-cancelled, unfortunately) iCinema companions, Scenario (a poetic, interactive fantasy involving an AI-equipped humanoid imprisoned in a basement – see RealTime 104). The differences seem polar: Pure Land aims to ‘take us there’ – where ‘there’ is a real place. We remain spectators while navigating – though poetic and emotional engagements like my own with the dancing figures are possible. With so many different ways of viewing this ‘real’ place, the result is a kind of meta-verity, in which much more can be seen – and perhaps responded-to – than if we were actually there.

Pure Land: Inside the Mogao Grottoes at Dunhuang, directed by Sarah Kenderdine and Jeffrey Shaw, iCinema, Advanced Visualization and Interaction Environment (AVIE), UNSW, 8 June;

This article first appeared on the ISEA2013 in RealTime blog

© Urszula Dawkins; for permission to reproduce apply to [email protected]

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