Rendering the Past with AND Festival

Abandon Normal Devices is a roving biennial of new cinema, digital culture and art, which will be based in the heart of the Peak District between the 21-24 September 2017.

Across four days, the festival will see a host of site-specific installations, world premieres and performances take-over the village of Castleton. From satellites to neutrino observatories, fossilisation to free-fall, this year’s programme will reveal the earth’s layers, from the drone’s eye view to the sunshine-deprived depths of subterranean bunkers, exploring themes of verticality and deep time in a series of prophetic, provocative and uncanny reflections on the earth.

NEoN is very excited to be involved with the festival and delivering a panel discussion –  Rendering the Past – looking at how new rendering and image making technologies are allowing us to uncover and see hidden histories. Dr Alice Watterson and Dr Kieran Baxter will discuss recent projects and the opportunities and challenges digital reconstruction presents. Join the discussion on Friday 22nd Sep 2017 @4pm – 5pm, The Peveril Centre

Dr Alice Watterson is an archaeologist specializing in illustration and digital survey and she is currently exploring the use of digital reconstruction as an interpretive tool, focusing on blending digital data with creative practice to general original interpretative content. Dr Kieran Baxter is a creative practitioner specializing in web design, aerial photography and visualization. Through his research, Baxter has found that aerial photography and computer generated imagery can offer an insight of historical built environments. Watterson, Baxter as well as other panelists will look at these practices and how it affects new forms of storytelling, archaeological research and animating the past.

Book tickets to for more information visit here

 

Supported by the National Lottery through Creative Scotland’s Open Project Fund

NEoN Recommends

2017 marks the 20th anniversary of Mark Amerika’a seminal online artwork GRAMMATRON, and in turn the Computer Arts Society is holding two days of events.

Mark Amerika is an American artists and Professor of Art and Art history, having exhibited works internationally. In 2000, his net artwork GRAMMATRON was selected for the Whitney Biennial of American Art. The GRAMMATRON project is a pubic domain narrative environment, consisting of over 1100 text spaces, 2000 links, over 40 minutes of original soundtrack and animated as well as still life images. GRAMMATRON represents a world where narratives are no longer made for book production but rather are created for a more immersive networked environment, playing off the ideas of how narratives as well as objects are produced and distributed in the age of digital dissemination.

This ties in with NEoN’s 2017 theme of Media Archaeology, which explores how media technologies are not only used but also how they themselves are produced, used, rendered obsolete by its users. Media Archaeology, as it will be represented during NEoN’s Digital Art Festival, explores networks and how technologies circulate within culture, as well as how we use them and how narratives are created through this. This concept, of technologies circulating within culture and how narratives are produced and distributed ties in with the GRAMMATRON project.

See here for programme details

Sound Art with VOID

NEoN caught up visual sound art collective VOID, who will be taking part in the festival this November. Comprised of Mauro Vitturini and Arnaud Eeckhout, the collective are known for their installations, which explore the different ways silence and sound can be visualised.

You seem to be interested in subtle sounds, like a drop of water falling onto an umbrella in your piece ‘One Drop’. Where does this interest come from?

Sound is omnipresent, so much that we learn to take it for granted. We can stop seeing by closing our eyes, but we cannot stop hearing by closing our ears. Even then, we will keep hearing the sound of our blood, our heart, our stomach, etc… Most of the sounds can be subtle; the only thing we need to do is to focus. And that’s what we do.

Sound has a significant impact on our sensorial field. It interacts and interferes with the perception we have of the reality around us. Using sound as a material, we produce artwork that represent the world around us from a very different point of view. Sound becomes to us what a brush or a colour is for a painter.


Some of your pieces, for instance ‘In Between’, ‘Air’, and ‘Silence, Un Mot’, attempt to visualise and communicate the idea of silence. Could you explain how these pieces work and what the importance of silence is to you?

We believe that the utopia of silence is one of the most thrilling and exciting fields to get our ideas from. The emptiness, intangible surface, shapeless and intention-less, is to be considered as a space to express reality in wilder and more spontaneous conditions. The works you quoted are just three examples of the infinite possibilities.

In ‘In Between’ we focused on the pauses and silences “in between” each word of a recorded dialogue. We kept all these “non-sounds” and deleted all the rest, namely the words composing the dialogue. In this way we have a new dialogue between two different kind of silence.

Most of the sound we hear travels through the air, moving it till these invisible waves gets to our ear (like water waves get to the beach). In ‘Air’, these waves are closed and focused inside a transparent tube. The source, a speaker, spreads in the tube some infra-sounds (frequencies that our ear is not able to hear, so… ‘silence’), which move the air inside the tube. At the other edge of the tube there’s a flute, which turns these silent waves into audible sounds, putting the accent on the metamorphosis moment of ‘silence’ into sound.

‘Silence, Un Mot’ is a drawing/engraving of the word ‘silence’ sound wave. Once recorded with a microphone, the sound of the word ‘silence’ is translated into a graphic sound wave, and then drawn with a cutter into the paper. This action of adding/removing allows the drawing to be visible and invisible at the same time, like silence can be, represented by a word that is at the same time representing and denying the concept itself of silence.

There’s a tension between nonsense and sense in your work, such as in ‘Noise Is Full of Words’ where a computer tries to translate music into text. Is understanding, on some level, a matter of perspective?

Of course it is. Most of our languages are caused by glitches: dialects are often the result of a mix of theory and practice, of knowledge and mistakes. As human beings, we constantly develop new languages, new ways of expression. And this is going even faster thanks to the rapid advancing of technology. Only a couple of weeks ago two robots, speaking to each other, invented a new language that only they could understand. This episode could be seen as indeed the birth of a new language, or simply as a big misunderstanding created by a glitch. It is a matter of perspective, isn’t it? And since we are so interested in sound, let’s not forget that an unknown or incomprehensible spoken language become straight away mere noise. Words are noise. Words are full of noise.

With ‘Noise Is Full Of Words’, despite the nonsense and the glitch, we still decided to print a book with the results we had. We made a choice of ‘perspective’ in order to give other people the chance of making their own choice about it. To share it with even more people, we are now translating the book in 100 different languages. Of course using Google Translate: let’s feed the glitch!

What exactly is ‘sound archaeology’? Do you see yourselves as preserving sounds that might otherwise be lost, and why is this something you feel drawn to do?

Sound archaeology is an idea that came up to us after the discovery of Archaeoacoustics (the use of acoustical study as a methodological approach within archaeology) and after the brilliant utopic idea of Guglielmo Marconi that ‘sound never dies’. We thought we could try to listen to all the sounds engraved in the surface of different places since they have been there.

But we were and we are not driven by the idea of conserving. Most of our artworks avoid this problem by often using ephemeral materials, which require being rebought and remade every time the artwork is exhibited. There is something appealing to us in preserving these sounds for ‘Bruit Blanc’; but it might be just a fetishist love for vinyl-like objects.

What are your artistic influences?

It’s never easy to make a list of influences. There are so many things and people who influenced us since we were children, starting with our fathers. So… listing just a couple, of course John Cage for his research about silence as much as the process he developed about the composition of ‘organic music’, which has an intrinsic relation with chance. We have a piece inspired by that, ‘Silences’, where we asked Google Maps to locate the word silence on the world map. In turn we got plenty of dots indicating places, shops, streets, studios… and we turned them into music sheet by adding scores on top of them. Today ‘Silences’ is interpreted and played with carte blanche by musicians and orchestras.

We could also think about Marshall McLuhan and his motto ‘the medium is the message’, that always seemed to us both the starting point and the conclusion of every creative process in visual art.
But there are so many people; YVes Klein, Bruce Nauman, Richard Feynman, Olafur Eliasson, Philip Glass, Zimoun, Stephen Hawking, Pietro Fortuna…


What are your plans for NEoN and is there anything in particular you’re looking forward to doing or seeing while you’re in Dundee?

For the NEoN Festival we will present the site-specific installation ‘Bruit Blanc’, an attempt to read all the sounds that every surface has absorbed during its history, starting from the idea that sound leaves traces of its interaction with every material by a natural phenomenon of sound erosion. All these sounds draw a picture of the place’s acoustic history: a sound archaeology of the space.

It would be great to be able to mould the walls of Balmerino Abbey, the soil of the Dundee Law, the Tay Rail Bridge… but even if we now have a technique that allow us to get the mould in five minutes (which means doing it without asking any permission), unfortunately it is still not easy to always get what we want. But for sure we will find plenty of other places by walking around the city.

 

Call for Proposals from Furtherfield and NEoN Digital Arts Festival

The CryptoDetectorist – coins, trades & hoards
Call for Proposals from Furtherfield and NEoN Digital Arts Festival

Deadline for submissions 4th September
For exhibition 9th November
Fee and production costs £2500

While archaeology has often understood cultures through excavations of hoards and coins, what will today’s digital currencies tell future archaeologists about the way we live and trade?

This co-commission with NEoN Digital Arts Festival forms part of Furtherfield’s ongoing investigations into the politics of the blockchain, smart contracts, and cryptocurrency systems like Ethereum. It invites artists to imagine themselves as future media archaeologists, as recorders of our current information-based society, and as time-travelers highlighting the continued relevance of our long past. Will you dig for the digital, brush the dirt off the non-material, or excavate the internet?

In an era that threatens to be a digital dark age for future historians1, blockchains may prove to be rare digital artefacts valuable enough to preserve into the future. There are already dozens of dead chains from abandoned cryptocurrencies2, but with billions of dollars of value tied up in Bitcoin, Ethereum and other leading coins, the incentives to maintain their public ledgers are strong. Culture and knowledge have already been hidden in the blockchain – from images of Nelson Mandela to WikiLeaks cables3 – but it is the blockchain as a record of our economic activity that concerns us here. This already has its history; on these public digital ledgers we can find everything from the ten thousand Bitcoins that were used to buy two pizzas4 to the fifty million dollars of Ether that were stolen5 in a hack on code running on the Ethereum blockchain. We just don’t have the best tools to visualise them yet.

We invite proposals for a new artistic online commission that takes the blockchain as the site of its manifestation. For example, artworks that are:

  1. a smart contract6 that sits on the blockchain for interaction by an art audience via a web browser
  2. a visualisation of blockchain activity, whether famous hacks or daily coffee purchases
  3. a set of complex scripts or transactions that make the blockchain itself into art
  4. crypto tokens7, assets8 or trading cards9 that make a game of blockchain value
  5. thought experiments or illustrative works

Whatever it is, it should work as a future media archeological artefact of blockchain finance and it has to be exhibitable online.

Background

Hailed as both emancipatory opportunity for creative autonomy, and a driver of inequality and corporate opacity, the blockchain10 is widely described as the Internet of Money. The blockchain is overtaking the WWW as the next big network technology for speculation and disruption. Investors recognise its potential in numerous ways: for high level authentication of identity11 and matter12; for more efficient and secure financial transactions and distribution of digital assets; for communications so secure as to facilitate voting; and as a coordinating technology for the billions of devices connected to the Internet.13

50 years ago this year, the world’s first ATM was designed, built and shipped from Dundee and installed in Enfield, less than 10 miles from Furtherfield. With this commission Furtherfield and NEoN recognise the role that the city of Dundee has played in the history of the development of smart technologies for financial transactions, through it being home to the R&D wing of The National Cash Register Corporation – NCR.14

NEoN Digital Arts Festival 2017 will expand on it being Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, and seek to use its arts programme to unveil hidden histories through the practice of ‘media archaeology’. Media archaeologists uncover and reconsider the obsolete, persistent, and hidden material cultures of the technological age – from big data software algorithms to tiny silicon chips. With support from the National Lottery through Creative Scotland’s Open Project Fund, and Creative Europe Programme of the European Union, NEoN and Furtherfield invite artists to consider how the blockchain is the new ATM of the future.

The commission will be launched online and at NEoN Digital Arts Festival, and presented at the Digital Futures programme at V&A Museum and MoneyLab both in London in Spring 2018 as part of the European collaboration, State Machines which investigates the new relationships between states, citizens and the stateless made possible by emerging technologies.

Schedule

Open Call announced 11th August
Deadline 4th September
6-9 September – follow up conversations where necessary (by email/phone)
13th September – decision made, artists informed and announced
19th September – public debate about cryptocurrencies in Dundee (organised by Scotcoin https://www.meetup.com/scotland-and-digital-currency/events/242087813/)
9th October – selected artist give progress report
9th November – Work installed for opening of NEoN Festival, Dundee. Artist presents work
Spring 2018 – Work re-presented with MoneyLab and V&A Digital Futures
(Note an additional £500 is available for accommodation and expenses for attendance at events in Dundee and London)

Submission Requirements

Submissions must include a proposal:

Proposal

  1. Title
  2. Name(s) of Creators
  3. Artistic concept (250 words)
  4. Installation details/ Technical specification
  5. Production Schedule
  6. Description of risks involved in and support needed for production to schedule
  7. Artistic statement (250 words)
  8. Supporting material- links, pics etc
  9. Contact details: email, phone, address

Documents should be submitted as PDFs or as links to a Google Doc, a GitHub Repo, or another easily read and easily accessed format.

If you have questions or enquiries about this commission please email alison.furtherfield[AT]Gmail.com

Submissions via Blockchain

Notice of submissions via the Bitcoin blockchain should be sent via an OP_RETURN message starting with the word FField followed by a single space and the url of the proposal. E.g.:
FField https://docs.google.com/document/d/2oGsmli7Mlm-M_CZkL8WTKM3oUU3a

OP_RETURN messages can be created using the Crypto Grafitti service:
http://www.cryptograffiti.info/

Submissions via Keybase

Notice of submissions via Keybase messaging, or submissions of documents via KeybaseFS should be sent to:
https://keybase.io/ruthcatlow
(Note: Keybase does require registration but is free to join.)

Submissions via Email

Notice of submissions, or submissions of documents via email can be sent to ruth.catlow[AT]furtherfield.org
Please use the subject line “Furtherfield NEoN Proposal”.

Partners

Furtherfield
Through artworks, labs and debate around arts and technology, people from all walks of life explore today’s important questions. The urban green space of London’s Finsbury Park, where Furtherfield’s Gallery and Lab are located, is now a platform for fieldwork in human and machine imagination – addressing the value of public realm in our fast-changing, globally connected and uniquely superdiverse context. An international network of associates use artistic methods to interrogate emerging technologies to extend access and grasp their wider potential. In this way new cultural, social and economic value is developed in partnership with arts, research, business and public sectors.

NEoN 
NEoN (North East of North) based in Dundee, Scotland aims to advance the understanding and accessibility of digital and technology driven art forms and to encourage high quality within the production of this medium. NEoN has organised 7 annual festivals to date including exhibitions, workshops, talks, conferences, live performances and public discussions. It is a platform to showcase national and international digital art forms. By bringing together emerging talent and well-established artists, NEoN aims to influence and reshape the genre. We are committed to helping our fabulous city of Dundee, well known for its digital culture and innovation, to become better connected through experiencing great art, networking and celebrating what our wee corner of Scotland has to offer in the field of digital arts.

State Machines: Art, Work and Identity in an Age of Planetary-Scale Computation
Focusing on how such technologies impact identity and citizenship, digital labour and finance, the project joins five experienced partners Aksioma (SI), Drugo More (HR),  Furtherfield (UK), Institute of Network Cultures (NL) and NeMe (CY) together with a range of artists, curators, theorists and audiences. State Machines insists on the need for new forms of expression and new artistic practices to address the most urgent questions of our time, and seeks to educate and empower the digital subjects of today to become active, engaged, and effective digital citizens of tomorrow.

V&A Digital Futures: Digital Futures
V&A Digital Futures: Digital Futures is a monthly meetup and open platform for displaying and discussing of work by professionals working with art, technology, design, science and beyond.  It is also a networking event, bringing together people from different backgrounds and disciplines with a view to generating future collaborations.

Creative Scotland
Creative Scotland is the public body that supports the arts, screen and creative industries across all parts of Scotland on behalf of everyone who lives, works or visits here. It enables people and organisations to work in and experience the arts, screen and creative industries in Scotland by helping others to develop great ideas and bring them to life. It distributes funding from the Scottish Government and The National Lottery.

This project has been funded with the support from the European Commission. This communication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.


1 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_dark_age

2 https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=588413.0

3 http://www.righto.com/2014/02/ascii-bernanke-wikileaks-photographs.html

4 https://blockchain.info/tx/a1075db55d416d3ca199f55b6084e2115b9345e16c5cf302fc80e9d5fbf5d48d

5 https://etherscan.io/token/TheDAO?a=0xf835a0247b0063c04ef22006ebe57c5f11977cc4

6 https://bitsonblocks.net/2016/02/01/a-gentle-introduction-to-smart-contracts/

7 https://hackernoon.com/how-to-create-a-token-using-counterparty-xcp-357b2890e744

8 https://ethereum.org/token

9 https://medium.com/@coin_and_peace/rarepepe-is-the-most-innovative-project-in-the-crypto-space-seriously-6d6b74749687

10 https://coincenter.org/learn

11 https://cryptoinsider.com/digital-identity-part-storing-sovereign-identities-blockchain/

12 https://chronicled.com/

13 How Many Things Are Currently Connected To The ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT)? https://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2013/01/07/how-many-things-are-currently-connected-to-the-internet-of-things-iot/

14 https://www.ncr.com/company/company-overview/history-timeline

NEoN caught up with Scott Kildall

NEoN caught up with Scott Kildall, an artist from San Francisco who has been working with a high-pressure waterjet cutting machine to recreate the dispersal patterns of meteorites and etch them into stone. The pieces, collectively entitled ‘Strewn Field’ will be exhibited during the festival in November.

What is a Strewn Field?

A strewn field is a technical term and indicates the area where meteorites from a single fall (asteroid) are dispersed. When an asteroid enters the atmosphere it often fragments into many pieces before impact due to the thermal shock of the Earth’s atmosphere, these fragments are known as meteorites. When they hit the ground, these meteorites make a spread pattern that tells us about the trajectory and composition of the asteroid.

Do you have a background as a stone carver/etcher? Before these digital technologies existed did you work with your hands, or have you always had a mechanical element to your work?

This is the first time I’ve worked with stone as a sculptural material. I try to select material that reflects the concept of the work. In this case stone is what we find on the earth. The high-pressure water from the waterjet acts like the kinetic energy of an asteroid and so the process is violent, yet predictable.

Only recently with the increased access to digital fabrication tools have artists such as myself been able to work with machines such as 3D printers, the waterjet machine and other CNC tools. Before then, I would work sculpturally, but not so much with mechanical elements. I see this particular work as a collaboration with the machine rather than mechanical in nature.

What is your preferred stone or geological material to work with?

Not to soft and not too hard. Quartzite is my favorite stone. It has flecks of reflective material in it and the surfaces look quite beautiful.

Where did your interest in meteors come from? How has it developed over the years?

Small bodies outside of our atmosphere such as asteroids and comets have both the ability to destroy life and help create it. Although not conclusively proven at this point, many scientists believe that impact events help chemically catalyze life on earth with the introduction of heat and complex minerals.

Additionally, they have the potential to destroy all life — an impact event (comet or asteroid) wiped out the dinosaurs. A significantly large asteroid could destroy all life on earth.

So, there is this potential that asteroids represent.

How does a water jet cutting machine work? Why did you start using one, and what do you mean when you say you “collaborate” with the machines you work with?’

I have access to a waterjet machine through the Pier 9 Creative Programs at Autodesk, which led me to think of creative ways to use that machine. The waterjet is like a laser-cutter on steroids. It emits a 55,000 psi stream of water and can cut through any material, including 6” thick steel.

I began to think of the possibilities for etching into various materials. Could the machine be harnessed or tamed? It seems to have a mind of its own and water is unpredictable, creating gouges and surface treatments that are otherwise unknown.

Before an etching session, I talk to the waterjet machine and make friends with it. I can’t tame it but can only cooperate with it.

Do you consider your work to be archeological, in terms of uncovering data that might otherwise be lost?

Not so much. You can only glean a bit of the data in the artifact itself. It is only archaeological as an art object.

How long do you hope your work will last, both in its physical locations and online?

I’m not so concerned with its online presence. It will probably die in virtual space soon after I do and I’m okay with that. As a physical object, I would like to see it last hundreds of years.

Etching into stone has that capability for longevity; some of our oldest signs of ancient civilizations were from making marks in rock with tools.

Can you tell us a bit more about your relationship with the SETI Institute?

I’m currently an artist-in-residence there. Its a two-year program, so is a bit of a slow cycle. The scientists there are super-busy! For various projects, I collaborate with a scientist and will use their data and understanding of various phenomena.

For example, with Strewn Fields, I collaborated with Dr. Peter Jenniskens, who provided four datasets of various strewn fields. He helped me understand the general idea of meteorite impacts and how they fall. I showed him samples and we had many discussions about aesthetics.

When I first showed the Strewn Fields series last fall, he came to the gallery with his collection of meteorites and we set up a table for him to talk about the meteorites with the art audience. It was a real hit! People loved having him there.

How can data visualisation increase public understanding?

Wow, that’s a big question. The short answer is that with what I reluctantly called “data art” you can tell a story about some invisible phenomena — be it human-made or naturally-occurring that people would not normally see or think about.

It also lends itself to augmenting the conversation about art. It has only been recently that it has been possible, with access to powerful computers, to process massive datasets. And so, data is like an artistic material.

But that’s more about data art. Data-visualization is such a huge field that many people have written books about it, so I’ll just stick with answering about data + art.

You talk of “embracing the glitch”, were there any glitches while making this work?

Yes. Each piece has subtle variations. Though the data was clean, glitches happen in the way the water bounces off the surface of the stone. Sometimes it creates pockets and fissures in odd places. When you look at it carefully, you’ll notice deeper grooves along the top edge of all of the data-etches. That has to do with the traversal of the machine. So, often a glitch happens in the translation from the digital into the physical.

For NEoN your work will be part of a group exhibition. Are you familiar with the work of the other artists in the exhibition, and are there any you’re particularly excited to be placed alongside?

I haven’t seen the list of other artists in the exhibition yet, so am very curious! Of course, this is always part of the work — the context such as the institution, curatorial directive and the other artists involved. I always find this unpredictability to be exciting.


by Ana Hine

Daring Curating forum for Fak’ugesi Festival

The Fak’ugesi African Digital Innovation Festival is an electrifying ten day program, from the 6th to 16th of September, celebrating innovative collaboration and digital practices. The Festival, as well as the name Fak’ugesi, represents urban youth culture, innovation and creativity in technology for Africans. This annual festival was first launched in 2014, aiming to bring together diverse digital and technological sectors and creating a publicly engaging event that brings innovation to the masses in a fun and accessible way. See here for more info.

As part of the programme NEoN are helping deliver Daring Curating: International Forum for Art and Technology in Africa, from the 11th to the 13th of September. This forum brings together all levels of practitioners, from artists to producers, to discuss issues around curating Art and Technology in Africa. The aim is to provide a batter understanding of the challenges regarding curating media arts in the region. The forum will consist of presentations, keynote talks and information exchanges among artists and curators working in the field of media and technology arts.

This is a partnership with University of Dundee, NEoN Digital Arts, CRUMB, Wits School of Arts, The Trinity Session, ISEA 2018,

CRUMB →  www.crumbweb.org

ISEA → www.isea-web.org/

NEoN → www.northeastofnorth.com

Wits School of Arts → wsoa.wits.ac.za

Trinity Session → artmap.co.za/187/trinity+session