At ISEA 2010, the International Symposium on Electronic Arts, media artists and media researchers from all over the world present their work in Dortmund (Germany). This year, many projects focus on the relationship between man and nature and man and technology. An overview of contemporary artistic practices of NextNature at ISEA 2010.
For media artists, in short, technology can be a tool, a methodology, an object of research and a thing of beauty in itself. Apart from the creative use of technologies, such as sensors, video-screens, GPS, sound technologies and so on, many works also explicitly question our relationship with technology. Some critically refer to the hidden control and surveillance society and the informational overkill, such as the Sentient City Survival Kit (by Mark Shepard), Desire of Codes (by Seiko Mikami) or Otondro Prohori, Guarding Who (by Naeem Mohaiemen). Other works show our dependence upon technology or explore the autonomy of technology such as Diary of a Cyberbabe (by Anna Gonzalez Suero), Ein Tag Ohne Handy by Eve Arpo & Riin Roos) and Lonely Record Sessions (by Joan Leandre).
Issues of sustainability and climate change are a popular trend – also among media artists. Some art works criticize our urge to control nature, while others show our dependence on technological mediation in these debates. Many try to reinvent our ‘broken’ relationship with nature by either changing its function or its appearance. Plants become musical instruments, adopted children, or are genetically remodifiyied to their ‘original’ state’, such as the project Common Flowers/White Out (by Shiko Fukuhara & Georg Tremmel).The freezing of water or the decomposition of dying leaves are transformed into sound scapes in the works Inhale Exhale; Succesion (by Terike Haapoja) and Permafrost (by Aernoudt Jacobs).
An intriguing project is BioModd by Belgian artist/scientist Angelo Vermeulen. His installations aim to fuse a living ecosystem with a modified computer network. In collaborative workshops with local people from the Philippines, Brasil and Belgium, used computer systems are recycled and turned into interactive sculptures. A nice project that blends biology, electronics, and cross-cultural dialogues.
The art works at ISEA play with the appearance and our sensory interpretation of nature, using technology as a mediator, enabler or criticized object of research. When wandering through the many exhibitions and performances, it seems that contemporary media artists as no-other understand and explore the notion of NextNature in creative and critical ways.
Next week: NextNature at Ars Electronica (Austria).