By on November 5th, 2020

 

 

Ultrawhite paint could cool buildings and combat climate change

 

This sciencemag.org bulletin talks about a new kind of paint that can condition buildings to a “…lower temperature than the surrounding air by radiating heat out into space.”

 

 

I wonder how sweltering the surrounding city streets would get. Would we need bubbles to walk three blocks?

 

 

I wonder whether an artist will find a meaningful use for the special paint in artworks unthinkable right now.

 



By on October 26th, 2020

Screenshot from Brainbow Hippocampus video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IZCZV5-v3S4

 

A lens can focus light to form an image, unlike a prism, which refracts light without focusing. Devices that similarly focus or disperse waves and radiation other than visible light are also called lenses, such as microwave lenses, electron lenses, acoustic lenses, or explosive lenses.   Wikipedia, lens

 

 

Humans who seek to reach others nonverbally by color, gesture, shape, were in past centuries limited to what they could draw, paint or sculpt with. That began changing with human experiments in focusing in (microscopes) and out (the scale of telescopes). We began to equal and exceed the abilities of flies and bees. We saw things that no human before had any notion existed. In pond water, in blood.

 

 

My last post Art and Experimental Media explored how science can change art. Let’s go further. The notion of focusing both in and out has been expanding. Scientists now turn art techniques to science to reveal new complexities. The Brainbow above is a technique for imaging neurons, for keeping one separate from another so you can trace from here to there.

 

 

Today ScienceMagazine  announced Cryo–electron microscopy breaks the atomic resolution barrier at last. Atoms for art?

 

 

 

Cryo–electron microscopy reveals the atomic details of apoferritin, a hollow, spherically shaped protein complex that stores iron.

 

 

And isn’t the image above spectacularly gorgeous? What I want to see is this brainbow technique pursued by serious artists. This type of image worked in with other kinds of image. For it to step from scientists to artists with agendas utterly other.

 

 

I’ve recently become aware of the MIT graduate Michael Fogleman who enjoys making small apps for the visually ambitious. He’s my hero right now, exactly the free-wheeling brain that can deliver me a slew of techniques for that I can accumulate and then begin bringing together.

 

 

If this seems far afield from imaging technology (electron microscope, Hubble telescope) remember that the brain is a superb focusing device. And Fogleman’s apps allow you to make images that you hadn’t imagined.

 

 

Welcome to an abundant world for artists to harvest from.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



By on October 21st, 2020

 

Sloan Nota, Electronic Change (101420 21)

 

 

Art and Experimental Media

 

 

Enjoy this bird footage, a pigeon and an owl. Then a look at what this means for artists.

 

 

 

 

 

Emmit Fenn – Who Dat from Patrick JEAN on Vimeo.

Directed by Patrick Jean
Concept by Emmit Fenn
Animation, vfx, etc by P. Jean
Produced by Rebecca Berrih
Thanks to Alec Udell

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve published this slo-mo video before. High speed video takes many more frames per second than normal. When you slow it down to how we’d experience the action with our eyes (the bird flies across the field to you) the abundance of extra frames reveals details our realtime eyes can’t take in.

 

 

This is serious technology. Think how an artist might include it in fine art. Think how at first it would stand out. Pop sensibilities eat it up easily now. But Pop isn’t serious by definition. I want to see more of this in the fine arts.

 

 

__________

 

 

Both of these examples are time-based media (4D) so we’ll skip remarks about artwork that hangs silent on the wall. A digital artist can think about electronic equipment in one of four ways. Recording data, manipulating data, outputting data or programming realtime action.

 

 

Recording

 

 

I fully believe that any recording device can be coaxed into interesting variations by using it the “wrong” way. The trick is to find which “abuse” will give you the most interesting effect. Camera shake gets wearisome pretty fast.

 

 

Charles Matz has used lidar on people and gotten wonderful effects. He didn’t plan them. They showed up and taught him.

 

 

So how does an artist incorporate unusual recording devices into an artwork? Realize that some media (film) are boxed in with viewers’ expectations. A museum piece may be an entry point before Spike Lee can use high-speed footage in cinema without it pointing itself out.

 

 

Manipulating

 

 

The jaunty pigeon gives a double-whammy of what electronic intervention can provide. Emmit Fenn’s voice here isn’t raw, it’s cooked. (I like it.) And Patrick Jean’s syncing of the pigeon’s dance routine to Jenn’s music is pure pleasure. Those feet!

 

 

Software ultimately has an electronic aspect or it won’t do you any good. There is a megaton of software for you to paw through.

 

 

Or like folks who once scratched camera film or tried bleach on it, you can opt for non-electronic, kitchen-sink manipulation. If you can figure out what that means with data.

 

 

Outputting

 

 

So you have the data, seasoned it to your taste. Now what kind of art do you intend to make? Printed? Forged? Cast?

 

 

Interactive maybe?

 

 

There have been technologies used in art for millennia. And the electronic era has spawned countless others. Maybe you’ll project an image/video on a high-glaze pot you’ve made. Maybe you’ll just show the video but program it to jump back to former frames in a pattern of steps.

 

 

You can fiddle with electronic data at any point in your association with it. True also with the non-electronic kind. So go fiddle.

 

 

Realtime Action

 

 

Some electronic art skips the recording step and uses devices that program physical objects (found objects, artistic objects) to move, to sound, to smell. You can choose from your electro-genies pure action.

 

__________

 

 

 

Once these technologies get you familiar with them the last barrier in the fine arts is for artists’ serious intent to make them tools, rather than a flirtatious flip of the cancan skirt.

 

 

 

 

 



By on July 16th, 2020

 

TED Talk by Janet Eschelman, 9.5 minutes

 

Looking Up

I notice a strange kinship between the works of Janet Eschelman and Nancy Baker Cahill — trivial I expect each would rightly say but worth pondering say I. Both artists plan works against a background of sky. Not teapots on a tabletop, not twisted nudes on stools. Above is an impulse in both. How much art shares that?

 

 

Janet Eschelman’s netting installations attach to hold-fasts such as downtown office towers. They billow with wind and color and light. To showcase the effects of these things applied by fey nature rather than an artistic decision that says, It’s done is profound. The mysterious facts of local weather are a loud conceptual contrast to a closed contrivance. An invitation to come to life rather than a finished effect. Paint, bronze, extreme wedding cakes can’t attempt it.

 

 

Eschelman positions external lights with intention. Her nets are made of rope. Nothing inherently illuminating. Rope. The design of her nets includes a slackness that moves as feelingly as wind itself. This is an art of tension and abandon. There’s the ecological awareness alongside the grab-you aesthetic beauty. And the scale makes art you’ve never seen before. You are a small observer under it. There’s awe.

 

 

Baker-Cahill makes art that intervenes in the view you frame through your smart phone. The Augmented Reality piece she made for this recent July 4 takes a tangled batch of red-white-blue lines that form the suggestion of a Liberty Bell. If you look through your phone’s viewfinder at one end of Washington, DC’s reflecting pond you’ll see Baker Cahill’s bell huge above the water. The audio tolls solemnly as the bell seems to sway.

 

 

Baker Cahill’s graphic style — energetic bursts of lines, her focus on lines as opposed to blobs (mostly), her awareness of their aptness for expressing direction and speed. For expressing stream movement, a burbling over rocks. Or an explosion of colored remnants in the sky.

 

 

These lines are pixels not rope and by nature pixels are a form and source of light. There’s no outside photographer’s light, shining from the side. You can’t illuminate pixels.  You can only add their shine to the shine of an external light, usually a diluting and muddling idea.

 

 

 

I assume but don’t know that this Augmented Reality work would appear on your smart phone as lit pixels, becoming brighter as the sun went down. The tether to the reality it augments is that the bell tolls over sites of historical interest.

 

 

 

I don’t understand technically why the bell only appears at certain sites. “Augmented Reality” may dictate it. I ponder what privacy and sanity issues would ensue if rogue artists beamed unexpected content into the viewfinder (reality-finder) of your phone.

 

 

 

I recently read a quantum physicist scoffing at the youthfulness of Quantum Theory — more or less a century — and comparing it to topics that have intrigued scientists as far back as Archimedes.  The quantum man said there are things that don’t make sense in quantum mechanics and he wants for it make better sense. He’s in his forties. Maybe he will.

 

 

Keeping this physicist’s youngish-theory-attitude in mind I’ll make a last comparison between Eschelman and Baker Cahill. Eschelman has earned the accomplishments of a mature artist. She’s faced many daunting technical problems and come up a winner. As I said recently, the only other masterful rope artist I know of is Mrinalini Mukherjee. [I’m saddened to read that she died in 2015.]

 

 

Under duress, Eschelman took up native fishnets as a form and her art soared. She has changed “what is art?,” and gifted it with radical urban scope.

 

Augmented Reality is still under development, for Baker Cahill to step onto this unfirmed turf speaks to her brass and sass.  [I use these loaded words for a  reason: to normalize words like brass (nuts) and sass (a girly word). I consciously keep in the woman-centric metaphors that come to mind because my instinct is to hide them. Don’t sound weak. Goddam, let those housework metaphors roll out like jellyrolls.]

 

Baker Cahill is now standing in a spot similar to the beach where Eschelman began. Looking up. Early times for her hugely unexplored medium. But she has willing sponsors. And a medium most humans are infants at using. I hope for big things from her once she’s gifted with the scope to match her wingspan.

 

 

_________________________

 

 

 

• Boston Greenwy Project

•  From a 2012 blogpost of mine, Fluidity

• FYI: Ismar2020, online conference Nov 9 – 13, 2020.  IEEE International Symposium on Mixed and Augmented Reality (ISMAR) is the premier conference for Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality (MR). Lots of folks claim to be “premier” so check this out another way before buying in.