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Live art invades Chatswood - Chris Rodley



It’s just a few days to go until the launch of The Portals on Saturday 8 June. I thought I’d share the latest news from a few of the other artists working on projects for the exhibition.

Shadow Net

In Shadow Net, which runs on Microsoft’s Kinect platform, shadows of passers-by in Darwin and Sydney will be captured and projected into a shared virtual space where they will interact with each other anonymously.

“It’s playing a game with technology you’d usually use across the lounge room and trying to stretch that across the country,” says artist Jimmy McGilchrist, who is leading the project together with games designer Matt Ditton and audio producer Tyler Solleder.

In contrast to massively multiplayer online games, Shadow Net incorporates the live silhouettes of each player rather than avatars: “If you’re walking past with a bike, the bike will be in the screen,” he says.

Jimmy says the key challenge of the work has been technical and technological. “I’m actually more interested in the achievement on the tech side rather than the creative application of it,” he says. “I find there’s a lack of acceptance of tech as art. I see it as exciting and new, and as an exploration of things that we don’t yet understand.”

In Metaverse Makeovers (Live), the creative team will be working with nail technicians to makeover members of the public with nail accessories; the nails are the passport to an augmented reality experience and enable wearers to interact with a companion game that unites Sydney and Darwin.

“Since its inception, the Metaverse Makeovers experience has revolved around designing immersive experiences for participants through our Metaverse Nails appcessories, which work in combination with physical fashion stick-on nails,” explains artist Thea Baumann.

The highlight of the experience for participants, she says, is when they see “our sparkly digital animations – which we call ‘holograms’ – pop out of the surface of their own fingernails.”

She adds: “We are trying to re-envision and re-imagine what the future of cosmetics and nail products and services might look like, and how they might be experienced through the lens of social mobile technologies and new networked infrastructure.”

As part of her artwork Is Starlight A Wifi Signal?, Nancy Mauro-Flude will be writing live code poetry in Tasmania while her collaborator Crystal Thomas performs in Darwin. “Together we meet in the ether and intermingle,” says Nancy. “We are making a node of this exchange visible in Sydney.”

The work is a meditation upon the transmissions that permeate us in the digital age, as well as how our collective consciousness is distributed across space, time and locale. “The project familiarises audiences to the aesthetics of remote experiences, telematic objects and different methods of operation in networked-mediated environments,” the artist says.

The audience can tweet their reflections upon the performance by using the hashtag #starlight, with their words incorporated into the artwork. The performance can also be viewed online.

In other news, it’s recently been confirmed that the Hong Kong new media artist Eric Siu will be bringing his work Touchy to Chatswood to coincide with The Portals.

Touchy is a cyborgian device that prevents its wearer from seeing until his or her skin is touched; only when that happens do the shutters in front of the wearer’s eyepiece open. When the wearer’s skin is touched for 10 seconds, the device takes a photo. Touchy aims to get us thinking about the value of old-school communication through touch, sight and photography.

Another highlight of The Portals is Distributed Empire, by Justin Clemens, Christopher Dodds and Adam Nash, which will encourage audiences to upload “selfies” which will be endlessly recombined by a sonic and visual portrait generator. More about that next time.

So much to see. Make sure you come along and check it out!

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