Digital Avant-Garde

Went to see the “Digital Avant-Garde”, a selection of works which had received awards at the Prix Ars Electronica from 1990 onwards.

Interestingly some works look a bit dated while others still make you say “WaouW”.

I really enjoyed Christa Sommerer and Laurent Mignonneau “Interactive Plant Growing” (A and F, 1992). As you approach and touch real plants, you can see them actually growing on a screen in 3D. The movement of the hand approaching them is transformed into numeric data that are transmitted directly into the growth program.

“America’s Finest” by Lynn Hershman (USA, 1989-1993) still has some sense nowadays. You aim at a spot or object anywhere around you, and you can shoot yourself, the people inside the instalation’s space and see the result as each shoot is followed by a picture of a massacre, dead bodies, scenes of sadness and horror and bomb or deflagration sounds.


Inter-Dis-Communication Machine, by Kazuhiko Hachiya (1993, J)

Two participants exchange their visual perspective thanks to a heard-mounted display covering your eyes and ears and a backpack with angel wings. Both are obliged to see the perspective of the other.
The project deals with the fact that the purportedly real world is just a construction out of subjective perception mechanisms.

Before trying the experiment I though “oh, been there, done that, won’t be impressed”, but I was, it is so hard to relate with the other person or coordinate each other movements. Before trying the device, I told Max: “stand in front of me and look at me, so I will have an idea of what others see when they look at me (quite vain, yes). It proved very very difficult to achieve something that sounds so simple.

Anyway, other testers (and those who were watching) were laughing a lot too.