Category: Lectures

Augmented Performances

Blendie by Kelly Dobson

Audio Activated Bra by Heidi Kumao

Animal Inspired Defensive Dress – Blowfish by Amisha Gadani

Masticator by Takehito Etani

Success is a Warm Mouse by Luke Loeffer

Sonic Banana by Eric Singer

Robodock by Stelarc

GYMCAM by Isla Hansen


My Little Piece of privacy by niklas roy

Blow Up by Scott Snibbe

A product is designed especially to be made in China. The object’s only function is to choreograph a dance performed by the labourers manufacturing it.

Avatar Machine by Mark Owens

The Image Fulgurator By Julius Von Bismark
image fu

Balance from Within by Jacob Tonski

A 170-year-old sofa which uses an internal robotic mechanism to balance precariously on one leg, continuously teetering, responding internally to external forces

Minaret by Michael Rakowitz
Michael Rakowitz

Light Emitting Art

Jim Campbell

Jenny Holzer
Selected works

Light Painting

Some examples

Light Painting with Roombas

Pulse Room by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer


Automatic Glassware by Jesse Stiles

Atom Performance

Particles by Daito MANABE & Motoi ISHIBASHI

Leo Villareal

LED throwies by Graffiti Research Lab

The Aqua Teen Hunger Force case or: the issue with Electronics in public spaces

The bomb

The Star Simpson case a.k.a. the MIT “fake bomb” girl

Repetition and variation

In August 62 I started doing silkscreens. I wanted something stronger that gave more of an assembly line effect. With silkscreening you pick a photograph, blow it up, transfer it in glue onto silk, and then roll ink across it so the ink goes through the silk but not through the glue. That way you get the same image, slightly different each time. It was all so simple quick and chancy. I was thrilled with it.
– Andy Warhol

Sol LeWitt, Successive Rows of Horizontal, Straight Lines from Top to Bottom, and Vertical, Straight Lines from Left to Right, 1972

In Op-Art (60s)
Abstract subgenre, short lived but influential all across interior design, fashion and advertising. Op-artists were exploring the limits of perception, creating visually tense images and optical illusions.

Victor Vasarely – Orion C – 1962 (not quite Op-art yet) Victor Vasarely, Boglar II Victor Vasarely – Titan Bridget Riley – Movement in Squares Balm by Bridget Riley Bridget Riley – Cataract 1967 Bridget Riley looking mod in 1964 Edna Andrade – Black Dragons 1969 Edna Andrade finale 1979 Edna Andrade

Repetition + variation in textile design:

Anni Albers Second Movement – 1978

In minimalist music:

Steve Reich – Clapping music 1972

In early computer art:

Manfred Mohr Cubic Limit 72-77

In «Cubic Limit,» Mohr introduces the cube into his work as a fixed system with which signs are generated. In the first part of this work phase (1972–75), an alphabet of signs is created from the twelve lines of a cube. In some works, statistics and rotation are used in the algorithm to generate signs. In others, combinatorial, logical and additive operators generate the global and local structures of the images.

10 PRINT CHR$(205.5+RND(1)); : GOTO 10
From the Commodore 64 manual

In generative art

Every Icon (1997) John F. Simon, Jr.
Can you reverse engineer Every Icon?

Jared Tarbell – click to see it in real time Jared Tarbell – Quarter Round

Same principle applied to rotational symmetry:

Marius Watz – Illuminations B

Marius Watz – Illuminations B
Video here

We’ll cover more generative art in a couple of weeks…

In level design
Modular generative systems are often used in games to generate levels procedurally:

Forget me not


and also beyond the 2D grid



Fuji by Robert Hodgin (flight404)

Fuji, test render from flight404 on Vimeo.

Art instruments, art tools

There is a fine line between making an interactive artwork and making an expressive tool or an instrument.

Golan’s Yellowfish was conceived as a tool for live performance:

Manual input session can function as a musical instrument:


Digital artist often experiment with the aesthetic of the interface:

Cube with Magic Ribbons from Simon Katan on Vimeo.

Sound and visual toys became particularly popular with the advent of touchscreens and apps: -> Sonic Wire Sculptor from amit pitaru on Vimeo.

Arcs21 by LIA (200?) by Miltos Manetas (2003) is way better for iPhone

Some software artists deconstruct the digital tools we use every day exposing the raw digital matter beneath the user friendly interface.

Auto-illustrator by Adrian Ward (2001)

Signwave Auto-Illustrator is an experimental, semi-autonomous, generative software artwork and a fully functional vector graphic design application to sit alongside your existing professional graphic design utilities.

Software as culture / speculative software…

Shredder by Mark Napier 1998

Web pages are temporary graphic images created when browsing software interprets HTML instructions. As long as all browsers agree (at least somewhat) on the conventions of HTML there is the illusion of solidity or permanence in the web. But behind the graphical illusion is a vast body of text files — containing HTML code — that fills hard drives on computers at locations all over the world. Collectively these instructions make up what we call ‘the web’. But what if these instructions are interpreted differently than intended? Perhaps radically differently?
The web browser is an organ of perception through which we ‘see’ the web.

(See also the more recent and playful Geocities-izer)

WebStalker I/O/D (1998)

Visceral Facades: taking Matta-Clark’s crowbar to software.

More recent artistic interventions in browsing took advantage of plugins and non-proprietary software (easier to expand and modify):

Add-Art by Steve Lambert (2008)

WIMP Alexei Shulgin
WIMP (Windows Interface Manipulation Program) is a program for creating full-screen visual animations synchronized with sound in real time, based on the notion of original wimp (Windows, Icons, Menus and Pointing) devices

Software can be mis-used and subverted even without digging into the code

Suicide Letter Wizard for Microsoft Word by Olga Goriunova (2003)

Spectrum Cube from Emilio Gomariz on Vimeo.


Once I heard that back in the ’90s when “Interactive art” became an established genre there was this one-line joke:

Wassily Kandinsky – Farbstudie Quadrate, c.1913 The Battleship Potemkin – Sergei Eisenstein – 1925

Are these people interacting with the statue?
Does this make the statue interactive?


(This is ’89, before 3d games and virtual reality)

In The Legible City the visitor is able to ride a stationary bicycle through a simulated representation of a city that is constituted by computer-generated three-dimensional letters that form words and sentences along the sides of the streets.

The Manhattan version (1989) of this work comprises eight separate fictional story lines in the form of monologues by ex-Mayor Koch, Frank Lloyd Wright, Donald Trump, a tour guide, a confidence trickster, an ambassador and a taxi-driver.

You can say that is generated because it’s real-time but the structure of the text is fixed like a choose-your-own-adventure game. You can navigate through it but you don’t really affect it.

Side question: can there be open interactivity without technology?

ADA – analog interactive installation / kinetic sculpture / post-digital drawing machine by Karina Smigla-Bobinski. 2011.

The Obliteration Room – Yayoi Kusama (2002-2012)


A cybernetic answer:


The idea of involving the whole body with an image on a screen was revolutionary around 20 years ago (Myron Kreuger’s Video Place) but has been since assimilated in our everyday lives (gaming, advertising, education, fitness…)

The level of engagement with the work is often physical and interactive artworks are often dismissed as mere technological toys unable to foster deep intellectual engagement.

This is a foundational course so we will be doing a lot of technical assignments that may be quite shallow.
Andy Warhol – Silver Clouds, 1966 helium-filled metalized plastic film

Wu Wei by Shawn Lawson and Wafaa Bilal 2003.

Wu Wei is a fundamental Taoist principle meaning: without action.

Helena by Marco Evaristti 2000

Drawing Machines

Ivan Sutherland MIT 1963 (Action starts at 4:20)

Computational art before computers?

Tinguely, swiss kinetic sculptor known for the self destructing machine.
In the 50s produced a body of work known as metamatics. A parody of American action painting.

In the same period matematician and artist Ben Laposky (American from Iowa),
made the first computer generated images, photographing the output of an oscilloscope.

Desmond Paul Henry (British) used bombsight analogue computers which were employed in World War II bombers to calculate the accurate release of bombs onto their target.

These artists seemed to be fascinated by the apparent randomness (unpredictability) of these machines and let them “do their thing”.
On the opposite side of the spectrum there is Sol LeWitt who didn’t use computers but conceived many of his works as a series of instructions. As if they were meant to be created by machines (art gallery interns).

This is the result of the sequence of instructions. What is the status of authorship and ownership when the works are just instructions that anybody can execute?

Computer art

Georg Nees 1965-1968.
In the mid-60 computer begin to become relatively more accessible and the first printers (plotters) become available. Georg Nees – Schotter 1968.
Nees had to write his own graphics libraries. His works often deals with order vs disorder. He also made the world’s first computer-generated sculpture in 1968 using a computer aided milling machines. Vera Molnar Interruptions-1968-69.
The computer art movement was international. Vera Molnar was a French Hungarian artist.

Manfred Mohr – Random Walk 1969 Frieder Nake, Nr. 2 (also known as Hommage to Paul Klee) 1965 Herbert W. Franke’s Serie Mondrian (1980), a software created for the Texas Instruments TI 99/4 home computer. Serie Mondrian produced Mondrian-style images according to user defined parameters.

Mark Wilson – STL D30 (1986)
In the 80’ computer generated abstraction grows in complexity. And can be printed in full colors. Mark Wilson – Small Three Skew (1983)

Many of these artists are still around but in the ‘90s computer art morphed into new media art and interactivity and social engagement became the main focus for artists working with technology.

With the democratization of robotics, drawing machines started to get out of the gallery (see graffiti writer) and became more autonomous.

Cory Arcangel gradient works are a playful post-modern legacy of computer art.

Cory Arcangel
Photoshop CS: 110 by 72 inches, 300 DPI, RGB, square pixels, default gradient “Spectrum”, mousedown y=1098 x=1749.9, mouse up y=0 x=4160 Cory Arcangel
Photoshop CS: 110 x 72 inches, 300 DPI, RGB, square pixels, default gradient “Spectrum,” mousedown y=27450 x=6700, mouseup y=4800 x=13400, 2010
The preset gradient as pop culture reference that many recognize. Cory Arcangel
Photoshop CS: 110 by 72 inches, 300 DPI, RGB, square pixels, default gradient “Spectrum”, mousedown y=1098 x=1749.9, mouse up y=0 x=4160
Low end sloppiness vs high end packaging

What is New Media Art?

Let’s start with a cheesy question:

This second part is crucial. New media artists use the same technologies used by engineers, military, advertisers etc. But they do it in a different way.

Art made in Photoshop or with a digital production tool is not automatically new media art.

Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr at the Tissue Culture & Art Project.
The artists based the jacket on a biodegradable polymer, coated it with 3T3 mouse cells to form connective tissue and topped it up with human bone cells in order to create a stronger skin layer. Although the technologies can be new, the artistic concerns are not. The conceptual and aesthetic roots of New Media extend to the Dada movement in the ’20. There are many common strategies: use of multiple physical media, appropriation and subversion, irony and absurdity, everything can be used for art (Fluxus will further elaborate on this). Net.flag is an interactive work hosted on a museum’s website. It contains images of all the national flags in the world. Each flag is broken into its respective components, which are then categorized according to several broadly descriptive terms; users may pick and choose from a menu of these components to form a new flag, which they may then save to the site. In addition, the project features a browsable history, through which users may look over past creations which have been saved and titled.
Internet as a new post national space. Pop art is another important influence. Many works of New Media art refer to and are engaged with commercial visual culture.

Like concept art New media art is often more focused more on ideas rather than on objects.

And now an embarrassing question:

(if you are a painter, sculptor etc…)

The new media field tends to include a lot of things that don’t belong to the traditional gallery formats. by One year of GPS self-surveillance. The artists even put their own telephone under control for the entire month. All Internet users had real-time access to any phone conversation trough the website. And their hard drives and email correspondence as well. Data-nudism. Anticipating the post-privacy era.

(In)Security Camera from ben chang on Vimeo.

Contestational Robotics – Institute for Applied Autonomy from Rich Pell on Vimeo.

Sometimes certain ideas are too visionary to have a place in the market.

Myron Krueger – Videoplace, Responsive Environment, 1972-1990s

Hand from Above from Chris O'Shea on Vimeo.

Traditional visual artist may find materials and concepts that can inform their practice.

Emily Gobeille & Theo Watson aka Design I/O
“Jungle” and “City” are the first two in a series of experimental posters for children that combine science, nature, algorithm and design, to feed children’s imagination and curiosity.