■ Transhuman Expression

Vertigo STARTS Residency Programme, In Collaboration with WeDraw and Casa Paganini | InfoMus, Genova, 2018

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The interactive room installation Transhuman Expression (2018) examines and reflects upon the artistic potential of the structure as well as the experience of the medium of painting positioned within the context of contemporary technological innovations. Transhuman Expression was conceived, developed and presented at Casa Paganini | InfoMus in Genova (Italy) in the context of a Vertigo STARTS residency, a programme that supports collaborations between artists and technology-based projects. Methods of information visualization in the post-digital age constitute a key focus. In its current form, the work results from the convergence of several concepts intrinsic to recent works and collaborative projects in which robotic technologies, motion tracking, video art, and painting were varyingly employed. As a whole, this generative artwork investigates the relation between physical, human-level activities and machine-based systems, both of which act — within a feedback system — synchronously upon each other via structures

The creation of the work was accompanied by pedagogical elements and development: a group of children from a local school was invited by weDRAW to participate as an audience and test group.  Movement analysis was used to structure easily comprehensible visual concepts for these young collaborators: lines (trajectories) and forms (grouping). 

This created a reductive link between time- and location-specific physical acts (movement) and their visual representation (at the moment digital) as a platform to explore structural elements in a controlled environment.

Participants are fitted with motion-tracking sensors before entering the exhibition space. Once inside they are free to move about as individuals or to interact with other visitors. The computer system recognizes the movements and evolution of both individual participants and group dynamics taking place within the space, and continuously registers data relating to these actions. The data is analyzed, processed and visualized according to different predefined rules of representation. The entire process takes place in real time (as it occurs “on stage”), i.e. participants see the live video projection (output) that results from their actions (input). They are free to explore and examine how they become part of a larger structure of situations and constellations: how their own movement, in relation to the space and to other participants, shapes the visualization. The interactive nature of the platform thus stimulates visitors to explore various ways to manipulate (control) the ever-changing state of the continuously evolving digital-painting artwork.

The installation comprised three projectors, each assigned one of three different visualizations that are projected on three large, transparent black screens hung in the exhibition space. This approach is a direct outgrowth of practices in recent works exploring the layering of materials and using transparency and light as artistic materials. The projected images were thus visible from both sides as well as beyond the screens on the frescoed walls of Casa Paganini’s auditorium.

Using motion tracking, movement analysis and data processing, pre-defined characteristics of temporally based physical activities can be digitally recorded as they occur in a given space (gallery, theatre, hallway or outdoor square), and some or all of this data can subsequently be extracted, decomposed and recomposed into the material world in the form of a new artwork. As this process is made visible to the participants, it translates into an artistic experience that assists them in the discovery of patterns and structures, the perception of which can help augment their understanding and appreciation of artwork in general.

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