An interactive room installation created by Liat Grayver in collaboration with weDRAW in the context of a Vertigo STARTS Residency program at Casa Paganini | InfoMus (Genova, Italy)
Data captured via motion detection of visitors is analyzed, processed and projected on large screens positioned in the exhibition area. The design and implementation for the artwork was structured in three development stages, each focussed on the completion of specific components of the work. The second of these stages involved the participation of a group of children recruited by weDRAW. Contributions to the project brought by the Artist and the Technical Partner were mutually beneficial, each gaining new knowledge and perspectives for their own ongoing work in artistic and technological fields. The collaboration benefitted, was built on and furthered experiences that both have had in ongoing work exploring points of convergence of artistic and scientific practices (for the Technical Partner this extends back to the 1990s). Grayver’s work in robotics-assisted painting gained new tools that can be integrated into the system she works with (at the University of Konstanz), while the weDRAW team has acquired new perspectives on the range, scope and scale of real-time, automated movement analysis. The tools and experiences resulting from this residency have immediate and long-term impact for the Artist and the Technical Partner; components of the artwork can easily be incorporated into current and upcoming artistic work and scientific research.
The interactive room installation Transhuman Expression examines and reflects upon the artistic potential of the structure as well as the experience of the medium of painting positioned within the context of contemporary technological innovations. Methods of information visualization in the postdigital age constitute a key focus. In its current form, the work results from the convergence of several concepts intrinsic to recent works and collaborative projects in which the Artist varyingly employed robotic technologies, motion tracking, video art, printmaking and painting. As a whole, this generative artwork investigates the relation between physical, human-level activities and machine-based systems, both of which act — within a feedback system — synchronously upon each other via structures built using data extracted from the physical actions of participants (visitors) in the exhibition area.
Participants are fitted with motion-tracking sensors before entering the exhibition space. Once inside they are free to move about as individuals or to interact with other visitors. The computer system recognizes the movements and evolution of both individual participants and group dynamics taking place within the space, and continuously registers data relating to these actions. The data is analyzed, processed and visualized according to different rules of representation defined by the Artist in collaboration with weDRAW. The entire process takes place in real time (as it occurs “on stage”), i.e. participants see the live video projection (output) that results from their actions (input). They are free to explore and examine how they become part of a larger structure of situations and constellations: how their own movement, in relation to the space and to other participants, shapes the visualization. The interactive nature of the platform thus stimulates visitors to explore various ways to manipulate (control) the ever-changing state of the continuously evolving digital-painting artwork. One of the key interests in presenting the visualization of subject matter in the form of a room-size composition is the formalization of rules and protocols for the repetition of a specific creative act, as well as for its recognition, such that the act itself can then feature as the primary subject matter of the work. In recent works, for example, the Artist explored the act of creating a painting from the perspective of its most primordial act — the process of committing a singular brushstroke to canvas or paper.
The identity indicators of such artworks are located and perceived within the experience of understanding the artistic and production process, rather than externally represented as a singular artistic object. In Transhuman Expression, a similar approach to the exploration of the creative process is extended into open space using advanced technological means — here, the canvas is replaced with a room of variable size and the brushstrokes with visitors to the installation work. Using motion tracking, movement analysis and data processing, pre-defined characteristics of temporally based physical activities can be digitally recorded as they occur in a given space (gallery, theatre, hallway or outdoor square), and some or all of this data can subsequently be extracted, decomposed and recomposed into the material world in the form of a new artwork. As this process is made visible to the participants, it translates into an artistic experience that assists them in the discovery of patterns and structures, the perception of which can help augment their understanding and appreciation of artwork in general.