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Dr Sommerer: Interactive Installation; Filmteractive 2013

Dr Christa Sommerer Filmteractive Presentation: Interactive Installation between Expanded Cinema and
Expanded Poetry

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Dr Sommerer: Interactive Installation; Filmteractive 2013

  1. 1. Interactive Installation between Expanded Cinema and Expanded Poetry Christa SOMMERER & Laurent MIGNONNEAU Professors for Interface Cultures, Kunstuniversität Linz, Austria
  2. 2. Expanded Cinema Expanded Cinema had a strong influence on the development of today’s Interactive Art. Expanded Cinema is an elastic name for many sorts of film and projection events. The term was coined by Steve Vanderbeek and Carolee Schneemann in the mid 1960ies. Often even the body was used as a projection screen. The experimental film maker Jonas Mekas writes already in 1965 about the “expanded” cinema in the crucible or multimedia spectacle, optical experiment and film performances by the NY and international underground (mentioning Bryon Gysin, Ian Sommerville, Gregory Markpolous and Robert Breer). More information and interviews at:
  3. 3. In 1970 Gene Youndblood wrote a book with the title Expanded Cinema, he is one of the first to consider video as an art form and he propagated the use of alternative cinema. (Gene, Youngblood, Expanded Cinema. Publisher: E P Dutton; January 1970)
  4. 4. Stan Vanderbeek‘s Movie-Drome» 1963 Influenced by Buckminster Fuller’s spheres, VanDerBeek had the idea for a spherical theater where people would lie down and experience movies all around them. Floating multi-images would replace straight one-dimensional film projection. From 1957 VanDerBeek produced film sequences for the Movie Drome, which he started building in 1963. His intention went far beyond the building itself and moved into the surrounding biosphere, the cosmos, the brain and even extraterrestrial intelligence. (source: Jürgen Claus in Leonardo, Vol. 36, No. 3, 2003, p. 229 from
  5. 5. Werner Nekes‘ Schnitte für ABABA, 1967 The film starts with a real scene of policemen who try to capture a man. After 4 minutes of black film the light is switched off in the room and viewers only hear the sound of the movie. Viewers starts using lighters and look around in the room. At one point the film projector is directly projected at them and a sense of participation occurs. The film passages switch between green and red and through a very fast cut a threedimensional sensation is created. Nekes uses the filmprojector as a mobile instrument, that projects at the audience, the wall and the interior of the cinema.
  6. 6. Paul Sharits‘s works Paul Sharits (1943-93) was a pioneer of “expanded cinema.” He made “flicker films” of stroboscopically changing colors and structural films that experimented with the basic properties of the medium. (quoted from New York Times) see also interview conducted by Steina and Woody Vasulka: « This has nothing to do with “pleasing an audience” – I mean to say that in my cinema flashes of projected light initiate neural transmission as much as they are analogues of such transmission systems and that the human retina is as much a “movie screen” as is the screen proper. At the risk of sounding immodest, by re-examining the basic mechanisms of motion pictures and by making these fundamentals explicitly concrete, I am working toward a completely new conception of cinema. « (quoted from: Notes on Films by Paul Sharits (1969)
  7. 7. Carolee Schneemann‘s Snows, 1967 at the Martinique Theater New York In Shows Schneemann produced a kinetic theater piece combining performance and film in order to « extend the visual densities of the live event. » The performers bodies are key elements for projections. video at
  8. 8. Valie Export‘s Ping Pong - Ein Film zum Spielen, 1968 With the ball and raquet you have to try to hit the dots that appear on the screen. A film to play with – a players' film. Stripped of semantics, the relationship between viewer and screen becomes clear: stimulus and reaction. The aesthetic of conventional film is a physiology of behaviour, its mode of communication a perceptual event. 'Ping Pong' explicates the relationship of power between producer (director, screen) and consumer (viewer). In it, what the eye tells the brain occasions motor reflexes and responses. ‘Ping Pong' makes visible the ideological conditions. Viewer and screen are partners in a game with rules dictated by the director, a game requiring screen and viewer to come to terms with each other. To this extent, the viewer's response is active. But the controlling character of the screen could not be demonstrated more clearly: no matter how involved the viewer becomes with the game and plays with the screen, his status as consumer is hardly affected – or not at all. Valie Export (text from MedienKunstNetz)
  9. 9. Expanded Poetry Experimental Literature in the early 1900 Early forms of experimental literature can be traced back to the 18th century. In 1897 Stephane Mallarme published a poem that used spacing and the placement of sentences as important components for producing meaning. The German poet Christian Morgenstern also partly played with the placement of characters and words to achieve a special visual expression (see: Fisches Nachtgesang). Around 1913-1916 the French Avantguarde poet Guillaume Apollinaire produced Calligrammes, drawing a connection between text and image, often expressing the subject and meaning of the text through a corresponding drawing, sometimes even opposing it (f.e. Eiffel Tower Calligramm).
  10. 10. The Historical Avant-garde movements also contributed to the development of experimental literature in the early and mid 20th century. In 1920 Tristan Tzara, a central figure in the Dadaist movement, suggested a system where newspaper clippings were poured out of a bag to produce new forms of random poems and experimental typographies. Fragmentary typographical Bulletin Dada. (See image Johannes Baader Gutenberg Commemorative Sheet) The Beat poets William S.Burrough’s and Brion Gysin rediscovered the cut-up technique in the early 1960ies.
  11. 11. Expanded Poetry by The Vienna Group During 1954-1959 H.C. Artman, Gerhard Rühm, Oswald Wiener, Konrad Bayer and Friedrich Achleitner produced experimental literature that defied any categorization and was strongly inspired by Dadaism and Surrealism. The Cool Manifest was written and the following forms developed: typewriterideograms, typocollages, formular poems, word and phonetic compositions, news paper collages, inventions, montages, series, rows, constellations, text montages, studies, picture texts, text films, projections, picture montages, dialect poems, theater pieces, spoken pieces, text sculptures, etc. In 1953 H.C. Artman manifested in his EightPoint-Proclamation of the Poetical Act that one can be a poet without having so much as written or spoken a single world, he called this openness of the genre Expanded Poetry.(see image Literary Cabaret on 15th April 1959, Vienna)
  12. 12. Gerhard Rühm’s A Poetry in Numbers, 1968 Here numbers are placed to propose a continuous plot, an optical rhythm, with sequential numbering and alternating dynamism.
  13. 13. The Media Poet Peter Weibel Weibel’s Action Lecture from 1986, is made up of various films showing Weibel projected onto his body as well as the screen behind him. He also carries on his body a tape recorder playing back a lecture, while at the same time holding a lecture through a microphone with the same content as the one recorded on the tape. The central element of the action was a visible electronic switch mechanism with which the audience could influence the operation of the film projector, the tape recorder, as well as a second tape recorder playing music. The amount of noise produced by the audience controled not only the projection of several films, but also a magnetophone, a spotlight, and a record player. (quoted from M. Michalka, XScreen, MUMOK Vienna, 2004, p.95)
  14. 14. Peter Weibel’s Split Medium Simultan from 1974 A text about the problem of concurrence is typed simultaneously on two typewriters. The left hand of the protagonist types only the characters that are placed on the left side of the typewriter, while his right hand types only the characters on the right side. Once these two resulting texts are overlaid again, they should give back the original text about simultaneousness.
  15. 15. Interactive Installations combining Expanded Cinema and Experimental Poetry by Sommerer & Mignonneau © Sommerer & Mignonneau
  16. 16. Life Writer © 2006 Christa SOMMERER and Laurent MIGNONNEAU, for MOCA Cleveland * antique type writer is adapted * typing text creates digital text on the paper * when turning the left handle this text transforms in B&W creatures that “live” on the paper * they try to survive nd reproduce by eating text that the user writes © 2006, Sommerer & Mignonneau
  17. 17. Life Writer © 2006 Christa SOMMERER and Laurent MIGNONNEAU, for MOCA Cleveland * text typed by the users = genetic code * genetic code determines the look and behavior of the creature * text becomes alive (see also W. Burroughs Naked Lunch) * creatures feed on text and reproduce (genetic programming) * the user can also kill the creatures © 2006, Sommerer & Mignonneau
  18. 18. Life Writer © 2006 Christa SOMMERER and Laurent MIGNONNEAU, for MOCA Cleveland * the paper tray can be moved by turning the cylinder and creatures can be move with it * user can use the paper as it were normal paper, though it has become the computer screen * intuitive interaction with the type writer * obsolete technology (media archaeology) of knowledge creation has been transformed into a subversive tool of text creation, destruction and mutation © 2006, Sommerer & Mignonneau
  19. 19. Life Writer © 2006 Christa SOMMERER and Laurent MIGNONNEAU, for MOCA Cleveland * expanded literature where the the borders between author and reader disappear * The Death of the Author (see R. Barthes) * everyone can become a poet, by participating in the poetic act (see H.C. Artman) * Derrida’s sense of the liberation of the text/work through the participants co-creation of the work © 2006, Sommerer & Mignonneau
  20. 20. Life Writer © 2006 Christa SOMMERER and Laurent MIGNONNEAU video at: © Sommerer & Mignonneau
  21. 21. Excavate © 2012, Laurent MIGNONNEAU and Christa SOMMERER developed for The View Contemporary Art Space * media archaeological interface consisting of a magic lantern * this device was invented in 1650 by Christiaan Huygens Magic Lanterns are the ancestors of the slide and film projector as well as our multimedia devices * we equipped the magic lantern with a mobile phone and a mini projector as well as sensors © 2012, Sommerer & Mignonneau
  22. 22. Excavate © 2012, Laurent MIGNONNEAU and Christa SOMMERER developed for The View Contemporary Art Space * visitors can explore the damp and totally dark cave with the Excavate device * when users shine light onto the cave walls various dark particles appear * they looking a bit like isopods; they assemble and build faint children’s faces * the image particles are created by A-Life swarming algorithms © 2012, Sommerer & Mignonneau
  23. 23. Excavate © 2012, Laurent MIGNONNEAU and Christa SOMMERER developed for The View Contemporary Art Space * In Excavate the surrealistic sensation of seeing faces in random patterns is produced * the user becomes the producer and the audience (see V.Export producer-consumer relationship) * the device represents a form of Expanded Cinema combining a media archaeological interface with an algorithmic image production © 2012, Sommerer & Mignonneau
  24. 24. Excavate © 2012, Laurent MIGNONNEAU and Christa SOMMERER developed for The View Contemporary Art Space video at: © Sommerer & Mignonneau
  25. 25. Escape © 2012, Laurent MIGNONNEAU and Christa SOMMERER developed for The View Contemporary Art Space The installation deals with the issue of Expanded Poetry and Expanded Cinema. It was originally developed as site specific installation in the civilian airraid shelter in Salenstein Switzerland. The installation consists of an antique film projector and an antique projection screen from the 1930ies. The projector was modified to hold a small LCD video projector and sensor technology. © 2012, Sommerer & Mignonneau
  26. 26. Escape © 2012, Laurent MIGNONNEAU and Christa SOMMERER developed for The View Contemporary Art Space * When visitors enter, they see a fat fly sitting on the projection screen * Once they start turning the handle, the fly starts to frenetically move around, like it would be trapped, trying to escape * When continuing to turn the handle, more and more flies appear, packing together as having discovered some nutrition © 2012, Sommerer & Mignonneau
  27. 27. Escape © 2012, Laurent MIGNONNEAU and Christa SOMMERER developed for The View Contemporary Art Space One fly calls more flies and they look for text pixels; once they find invisible text they sit on it and reproduce by producing more and more flies (produced through our Artificial Life algorithms) © 2012, Sommerer & Mignonneau
  28. 28. Escape © 2012, Laurent MIGNONNEAU and Christa SOMMERER developed for The View Contemporary Art Space * At one point text starts to form out of the fly pack and when one continues to turn the handle, a text of Kafka becomes legible. * It is a chapter of “!etamorphosis” by the writer Franz Kafka where the protagonist, Gregor Samsa, realizes that he is trapped in his own body and begins to transform into a gigantic insect © 2012, Sommerer & Mignonneau
  29. 29. Escape © 2012, Laurent MIGNONNEAU and Christa SOMMERER developed for The View Contemporary Art Space As long as the visitors turns the handle the text is formed, however if he/she stops, the text dissolves again; the visitor becomes a producer and consumer of the text (see Barthes, Derrida, Kluszczynski); an interactive installation referring to Expanded Literature and Expanded Cinema was created © 2012, Sommerer & Mignonneau
  30. 30. Escape © 2012, Laurent MIGNONNEAU and Christa SOMMERER developed for The View Contemporary Art Space video at: © Sommerer & Mignonneau
  31. 31. Publications by Sommerer & Mignonneau
  32. 32. Recent Solo Exhibitions: 2012 Laznia Centre for Contemporary Art Gdansk, Poland Wonderful Life, Art& Science Meeting Curator: Ryszard Kluszczy"sk, Jadwiga Charzy"ska 14. May 2012 - 24. June 2012 TV Report on Polish TV:
  33. 33. Recent Solo Exhibitions: 2011 Arts Santa Monica, Barcelona,Spain Sistemes Vius/Living Systems 1st June 2011- 30th September 2011 Curator: Josep Perello & Irma Vilà Odena TV Report: e1zXTk
  34. 34. G. Stocker, Ch. Sommerer, L. Mignonneau (eds.) Christa Sommerer & Laurent Mignonneau: Interactive Art Research A first monography of Sommerer & Mignonneau’s interactive art works and writings, with essays by: C. Paul, O. Grau, R. Ascott, E. Huhtamo, M. Kusahara, J. Casti, F. de Meredieu, P. Weibel, M. Michalka, et al. Springer Verlag Vienna/New York, Sept 2009, ISBN978-3211-99015-5 English, with DVD
  35. 35. This book brings together key theoreticians and practitioners of interaction and interface design and its shows how historically relevant the term is, as it can be analyzed not only from an engineering point of view but from a social, artistic and conceptual, and even commercial angle as well. Artists and creators of interactive art have shown how interactive digital processes and human-computer interaction are essential elements for their artistic creations. Their resulting prototypes have often reached beyond the art arena into areas such as mobile computing, intelligent ambiences, intelligent architecture, fashionable technologies, ubiquitous computing and pervasive gaming.
  36. 36. This book, edited in 2008, gives an overview of the current state of interactive art and interface technology as well as an outlook on new forms of hybridization in art, media, scientific research and everyday media applications. We have invited around 40 practitioners and theoreticians for guest lectures over the past 4 years. This book is a collection of these guest lectures, to stimulate the discourse on Interface Cultures and its social impact.
  37. 37. This book, edited in 1998 provides articles by 24 scientists and artists on the following topics where art and science meet: Telecommunications, Scientific Visualization, Artificial Life, Artists as Researchers,Chaos and Complex Systems, Public Spaces, Education of Art & Science, Art & Science in Historical and Cultural Context
  38. 38. More information at: Christa SOMMERER & Laurent MIGNONNEAU INTERFACE CULTURES Department of Media, Kunstuniversität Linz, Austria

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