Re: ~e; an electromagnetic art context

Date Wed, 11 Aug 2004 08:30:09 EDT

wanted to pass this along to the list

In a message dated 3/8/04 9:36:40 am, writes:

as always there is a huge project in waiting, about which the
article below offers a way to share a basic, beginning idea
about 'the context' in which artworks and artifacts are being
presented in buildings/galleries/museums, pre- and post-
digital. not an artist, the thing about art that is intriguing to
me is the ideas that are shared and the questions that are
readily and openly discussed by artists about conditions in
which their work is presented. some of these conversations
have been online, lurked and listened to, combined with a
question about architecture and electromagnetism that has
been explored for the most part in silence, for many years.

American Art Is Adrift for Biennale in Venice, by Carol Vogel.

just happened upon an earlier idea when researching basic
electronics kits which automatically switch house-current to
make lights flash, and a link referenced this being used in a
haunted house, or to simulate lightning, when a sound kit is
tied to a light kit which makes the lights flash synchronously.
an earlier idea on another list was using today's remote view
webcams, and possibly also microphones, remote control of
lighting/home automation over the internet to make a WWW
haunted house. in reading about the possibility of an empty
.US pavilion at the Venice art event it made me wonder if an
empty pavilion could become such a place, where no one is
there but this technological interface directed from afar, with
the visitors as the artwork, though this is an end-use for an
idea about such spaces in which art is placed in a building
context, and what this context is today, that adds a bit more
to the idea than merely a haunted art show which probably
already has been done in some manner or another already.

the thing that is of great interest about museums young and
old is the context they are providing for the presentation of
ideas, and the value of these ideas, most likely monetary as
the more sophisticated development seems to occur around
preserving and protecting delicate or very expensive works.
one time visiting the Louvre to find the Mona Lisa (as it was
on the sign-posts everywhere, reproduced, and having never
found it, settled for a photograph of the signpost itself with the
reproduction as being the artwork)-- it was said to be heavily
protected and the jewel of the museum, and recently efforts
are being made to protect its further deterioration from any
number of things (light, humidity, etc). so too, art thievery is
an issue and works of all kinds need to have protection from
easy art heists and so security systems are all abuzz. if not
all, then most of them are electromagnetic. movies tend to
go out of their way to make (fictional?) Fort Knox protective
measures the epitome of security systems, with lasers, with
infrared sensors, pressure and proximity devices, cameras,
automatic doors, and the rest.

on a more mundane level, and i do not know what the full
extent of the 'white box' arguments/conclusions are, or if it
is even a way to present discussions about such places,
the idea of a 'black box' predates a museum art context it
is presumed, if it is tied into technological discussions of
technology itself, the magic or esoteric knowledge that may
be masked by the science-and-technology itself being used,
in an art or other context. i am not sure i understand what it
is all about yet it is intriguing to me if the spaces and places
that present works that are electromagnetic, or not, are in
a state of questioning of their presentation in built space,
or whatever one may call a museum or gallery today, as a
place to present (and archive) works.  the ideas presented
are being presented in a box which is chock full of sensors!
electromagnetic sensors - of every advanced kind available.

it was amazing to get a tour of a small museum's technology
used in conservation of works, from (ultraviolet) UV shades
on protective glass and windows, to humidity sensors, to fire
and water and other sprinkler systems, to light-meter readings
to gauge the health of these sensor infrastructures to protect
and read the situation, to museums which use microphones,
counters, speakers, intercoms, alarms, touch sensors, and
many many other techniques to create a context for the show-
casing of works of some value in terms of recognized ideas.

yet the question that seems to me to be missing is sensors
themselves as part of the context already existing between
the older and newer works, that this infrastructure already is
in place and working day-in and day-out and could possibly
be the museum 'art context' which is in itself electromagnetic,
which a haunted pavilion could transform into the work itself,
with a few labels, letting persons in on how such sensors are
working, sharing the physics and mathematics and technology
and art involved in the discovery of, say, the quantum hall-effect
to detect magnetism at a distance, or what photon-based devices
may involve- and how. this goes to a realm of question the ideas
of what is considered 'art' in a context which, to me at least, may
bring in the 'science and technology' in such a way that works
shown in science, natural history, historical, corporate, fine art,
and other collections could find overlap if a share context were
able to appreciate the (industrial archaeological) art of the first
particle accelerators (cyclotrons/betatrons, others) as custom
ideas, experiments of ideas, hand-tooled and created, to test
and share ideas and information which may exist on one end
of a spectrum that an installation artist who deconstructs TV
cathoderay tubes to go into a poetic approach to scientific and
technological insights also may explore. though if these were
in the same room, artifacts and artworks, maybe someday an
electromagnetic wunderkammer could do this for EM works
across such a cultural spectrum, then 'the whole' enterprise
could be made visible upon establishing an EM art context
for EM works and others which inhabit such spaces today.

this was written to share an idea about an empty gallery in
which there is said to be no value until it is filled in with an
enormousness of perceived valuable stuff. yet in my view it
is possible that, given how space exists, should the space be
prepped as it would for such valuable works to exist within,
sensor network and surveillance and other infrastructures
would need to be installed-- and really, have these ever by
themselves been the focus of the changing context/nature in
museums? i asked persons from a museum but drew blank
stares, and was not allowed to speak to a curator about it, it
was too mundane or for facilities management they said. yet
could these electromagnetic sensors become a type of way
of sensing the space, a type of understanding of the space,
a type of sociology of the space, the people, the events, of
how it is inhabited, its rules of engagement, its relationship
between those who operate this mechanism and those who
participate in these electromagnetic art context experiments?

to me this is fascinating, the sensors used in museums as it
is here that they are clearly seen, their use is made obvious
along with their utility, and even overkill of the value of ideas
which may not justify such oversight nor technical protection,
except that if something is in such a shared 'sensed' context,
what may it mean, i wonder. like a haunted museum if no one
ends up going to see the artwork, possibly, as it is pre-sensor
in its ideas, just possibly outside the time it is existing within.

this is not a unified statement about electromagnetic artworks,
it is any artworks in an EM context, and by addressing a place
which is based EM sensing, as a context for presenting ideas
or artworks, further EM works/ideas could be brought into a
relation with one another that without this shared context may
not be as readily possible, possibly. that is, there is an empirical
basis for sharing ideas beyond existing mediums and messages.

just sharing some ideas, any/all feedback welcome.

  brian thomas carroll: architecture, education, electromagnetism

  the electromagnetic internetwork-list
  electromagnetism / infrastructure / civilization

Professor Johnny Golding
Professor of Philosophy in the Visual Arts
& Communication Technologies
Dept. of Creative, Critical, and Communication Studies
University of Greenwich, Maritime Campus

Programme Leader for MA/ph.d. studies in Media Arts
MA Programme: Critical Studies, New Media and the Practising Arts
***a unique post-graduate programme combining experimental research,
contemporary philosophy, arts practises and play**

Professor Johnny Golding
Professor of Philosophy in the Visual Arts
& Communication Technologies
Dept. of Creative, Critical, and Communication Studies
University of Greenwich, Maritime Campus

Programme Leader for MA/ph.d. studies in Media Arts
MA Programme: Critical Studies, New Media and the Practising Arts
***a unique post-graduate programme combining experimental research,
contemporary philosophy, arts practises and play**