SIGGRAPH Juried Art Gallery Explores Nature and Technology Connections
June 15, 2009

SIGGRAPH Juried Art Gallery Explores Nature and Technology Connections

Chicago,Ill. - From synthetic worlds and post-apocalyptic futures to human labsand digitally stimulated plants, BioLogic: A Natural History of DigitalLife takes both a serious and playful look at what happens when natureand technology combine, reveals a representative of SIGGRAPH 2009, theannual conference and exhibition to take place this August in NewOrleans. The Biologic juried exhibition showcases recent projects by 11artists representing 10 countries. All the projects are kinetic, mostare interactive, and many are large installations that immerse theviewer in environments of quivering tendrils, singing strands of hair,and fuzzy, cloud-like surfaces that respond when stroked.
"The artworks chosen for this exhibition explore what can happen when biological forms and life processes encounter digital code and devices," says Elona Van Gent, SIGGRAPH 2009 juried art chair from the University of Michigan. "Tags associated with the exhibition include extinction, landscape, fragile systems, growth, and augmentation. The complex technologies and intriguing topics encountered in the exhibition offer viewers a compelling survey of ideas and issues that characterize contemporary life; a tangle of digital devices, natural processes, and us."

Works exhibited in the BioLogic Art Gallery will also be published in a special issue of Leonardo, The Journal of the International Society of the Arts, Sciences, and Technology from MIT Press.

The BioLogic jury was compromised of Marcia Tanner (CA), Sabrina Raaf (IL), Suzanne Anker (NY), Cezanne Charles (MI), Sascha Pohflepp (DE/UK), and John Marshall (UK/MI).

Highlights of the SIGGRAPH 2009 BioLogic Art Gallery Include:


Hylozoic Soil
       Philip Beesley, University of Waterloo

Hylozoic Soil is a visually arresting and complex installation. Quivering to life as viewers enter into its midst, this beguiling piece is a network of micro-controllers, proximity sensors, and shape-memory alloy actuators. Building upon simple motions embedded within individual elements, turbulent wave-like reactions are produced. Using its tendrils, fronds and bladders to lure visitors into its seemingly fragile web of laser-cut acrylic matrices, this work blurs the distinctions between organism and environment. Operating at the intersections of architecture, design, electronics, engineering, informatics, and art, this installation is a visceral experience exploring the nuanced relationship between the biological and the artificial.


Post Global Warming Survival Kit
     Petko Dourmana, Artist

 Post Global Warming Survival Kit is a low-light, infrared installation set in a post-apocalyptic world where a nuclear winter condition has been created as a radical solution to the problems of global warming and climate catastrophe. Viewers are initially confronted with a space seemingly empty except for a lone dwelling. Only after using the night vision devices are viewers able to perceive the desolate coastal landscape displayed as an infrared video projection. In this world the sun's life-giving rays are unable to reach the surface of the Earth, resulting in permanent twilight. Without the aid of technological augmentation, we would be blind. Survival aids and communications technology have been provided. The suggestion is that this coastal outpost is one of many.


Electric Eigen-Portraits
     Arthur Elsenaar, Nottingham Trent University
      Remko Scha, Collaborator


Electric Eigen-Portraits shows the human face in a state of externally triggered resonance. Eight facial muscles are subjected to a simple on/off stimulation pattern with a repetition period that varies gradually between 2 seconds and 100 milliseconds. This work turns a computer-controlled human face into a medium for kinetic art, shown in a video projection. As the human face is controlled by a digital computer instead of a neural brain, it can be made to perform in ways that are often unusual and surprising.


Growth Rendering Device
     David Bowen, University of Minnesota

This is a kinetic installation that captures the growth of a pea plant over a 24-hour period. Suspended in a nutrient-rich hydroponic solution, the pea plant growth is recorded during the length of the exhibition. After each new drawing is produced, the system scrolls the roll of paper approximately four inches to make way for the next drawing cycle to begin. As the name suggests, the focus is on growth-a complete feedback system between machine and plant-however, what the machine may also record is the decay and demise of the plant. Drawing marked parallels to Gregor Mendel's work on inheritance in peas, Growth Rendering Device seems to ask whether both the machinic and the artistic parents will leave their mark on their offspring.


     Yoon Chung Han, Gautam Rangan, and Erick Oh, University of California, Los Angeles


One is an interactive art installation that immerses the viewer in an animated fantasy. This work blends 2D and 3D animation that is generated by input from sensors connected to a micro-controller. The artwork resists the need to taxonomize (associated closely with the practice of scientific illustration/visualization) and instead offers an opportunity to consider the reflexive condition between observer and observed. It also provokes the viewer to experiment in order to get the results they believe are positive and beneficial - those which are visually pleasing. In the end the message is simple. It is not the tagging, classification, or observation of life that will lead to greater social responsibility, but an appreciation of the oneness of all things.