By on October 26th, 2020

Screenshot from Brainbow Hippocampus video.


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.






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.






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.






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.