VIS Issue 4 was published 14 October 2020. The issue features seven expositions within the theme “Affecting material and technique”. Editor: Trond Lossius.
En egen trykkpresse
Ane Thon Knutsen
A Printing Press of One’s Own (En egen trykkpresse) is a practical examination of the relationship between art and technique, hand and spirit, thought and printing ink. The project came out of an interest in the printed medium in a digital age. Book printing has been the dominant technology for setting and mass reproducing of the printed word from when Gutenberg popularized the technique in the 1450s, and until well into the 20th century. Thon Knutsen set out to search for a professional position which allowed her to combine an artistic approach to typography and graphic form with her technical insight and historical knowledge of book printing. She found Virginia Woolf. The canonised modernist author and the feminist icon worked in parallel with both her writing as artistic practice and as typesetter and printer in her own private printing press. Through in-depth close reading of Woolf's authorship, seen through the first-hand experience as typesetter and printer, Thon Knutsen has found new ways to read Woolf, and a direction for her own artistic and research-based practice. Thon Knutsen has recreated the short story that Woolf printed in her debut, The Mark on the Wall, in its whole, but with a new aesthetic appearance. She has done this with a method that Thon Knutsen claims must have been used by Woolf; the thought and the writing must have been influenced by the experience of setting and printing as a pendulum between the spirit that writes and the hand that sets.
The goal of this work and of my research is to broaden our understanding of contemporary creative conditions in relation to how technologically constructed systems enable cultural production. The work explores specific systems and pushes the limits of their intended use.
In the process, I also hope to reveal the relationship between digital systems and transformative subjects. The work Radical Inside explores 3D models from the largest sharing platform for 3D content. A multiplicity of possibilities opens up as a shift in camera perspective reveals the internal structure of the 3D models. The reorientation points to criticism of how society is structured and imagined by the heteronormative gaze. The unusual angle displaces the normative placement of the model within a reduced and rigid system - the taxonomy and categorization of the platform. From within, I can highlight and explore technology as a fundamentally surreal and queer possibility.
BODY FRAGMENTED - temporal expressions
In response to digital technology, new methods, thinking and aesthetics have emerged that challenge the way we design. In particular, the extraction of movement introduced by motion-capture technology propose a design process wherein the motion rather than the form is used as a material in a design process. In such a process the motion is extracted form a defined set of points that creates a digital representation. In this exposition, the strategies utilized when capturing a motion is translated into the process of garment making with the purpose to challenge bodily aesthetics through dress.
Practically, this exposition builds on two independent studies with the shared aim to define parameters for transformations of the moving body’s expression applied to a garment making process. Yet, the transformation is approached from two perspectives; the first study is non-material and borrows theory and references from the field of dance and motion capturing technology. It maps the body as a point-based system based on the body as a moving form and pin-points body functions that affect these points. This part serves as a foundation for the second study that adds material aspects, in particular, it maps material parameters that relate to how the material is arranged in relation to these points.
In conclusion, strategies of extraction of movement as attachments and the scale of fragmentation of materials are considered the main contribution to the garment making process. As it proposes a new usage of movement, the work has implications for fashion design, costume design but also other body movement-based mediums as it is about the expression of body movement and not just the body as a form.
Verktøy som materiale
In this exposition I wish to point to a type of artistic research evolving around development of technology as artistic material, as an extension to the condition of possibility for an artistic expression. The well known distinction between research *for* and research *in* the arts, in my opinion becomes blurred in these type of works. Those tools developed to facilitate the artistic exploration constitute the base material for the artist, and the development of these tools are an intrinsic part of the artistic process. The examples are shown as recorded sound and video, and the technological material is thus still hidden from the reader. They can not see the material itself, just the traces it leaves. I would argue that the artistic process here starts with the investigation of potential, guiding the development of tools, and the tools will have certain affordances correlating with some aspects of the original artistic spark (desire). The artistic process of exploring said affordances will also in many cases lead to unexpected outcomes, in the interaction between human and machine, artist and tool
Reclamation : Exposing Coal Seams and Appalachian Fatalism with Digital Apparatuses
The mountainous geography of Appalachia has been shaped by the coal industry since the post-Civil War Reconstruction Era of the United States. Mountaintop Removal (MTR) is a controversial and highly destructive surface-mining method flattening the mountains of Appalachian since the 1970s. The rise in massive energy consumption correlated to consumer electronics, automation, and technocratic neoliberalism have irrevocably flattened the surface and culture of Appalachia.
Reclamation is the final act in MTR mining in which the mine operator is obligated to ecologically restore the land. Where MTR sites were once hidden away, and even photographing them is considered an act of trespassing, today I can bear witness to the destruction of the mountain topology by connecting to Google's Earth (not to be confused with earth-Earth). Despite the remote locations and inaccessibility of the sites, the data is particularly rich due to the economical advantages of mapping the region for the coal industry.
In this exposition, I make my own reclamation as one in the generation born after the boom of coal production and its inevitable decline. I am reclaiming the 3D geospatial data of MTR and mining disaster sites, extracted from the servers of Google Earth. I recontextualize these geospatial assets to compose a visual prosopography of those surfaces.
Playing against the camera
Erik Friis Reitan
In this essay I describe two projects within the field of visual art. Both works are examples of how the workflow techniques of digital photography can be modified in order to produce artworks that take on a distinct physicality and objecthood, and, as such, may form a spatial and/or haptic relation with the viewer. I discuss how such an approach relates to the ability of photography to point beyond the physical situation of viewing due to the particular virtuality of the photograph. By relating my work to the ideas of Vilém Flusser and Roland Barthes, recent theory on photography and photographic indexicality, as well as contemporary artistic work, I speculate here on how my own work illuminates perceptions of the photograph and understandings of the role of photography in today’s media culture and economy.
Aural Transposition, Psychogeography and the Ephemeral World
Aural transposition sits at a crossroads between being a tool for practice and creating work, and being a tool that illuminates aspects of another entity. In day-to-day music practice, transposition can be an age-old tool for learning material, or a multi-layered exploration of an object or place. Transposition can also be a means of recreating places, real or imagined, through the transposition of ghost traces back into sound. And the transposition of spaces onto other spaces is possible through multichannel sound arrays. The territory for re-imagining both sound and place lies in the impossible space between the sounding entity at hand and the instrument that transposes it. Just as in the dérive of psychogeography, the spaces between well-trod paths leads to a world beyond the banal. This exposition first situates these practices in psychogeography, and amongst other artists whose work utilizes various transposition, soundwalking or psychogeographical practices. It then discusses those aspects of my own artistic practice and work—across a spectrum of electroacoustic music, improvised violin work and collaborative composition for an ensemble of mechanical string instruments— that are centered around aural transposition as an act of psychogeography.