Monday, 8 February 2010

Essay on Vj art , Generative art and the history, links to artistic practises and cultural statements and alterations.


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Introduction
This essay will be focusing on the relationships between Vj art and Generative art, and the influences and links with avant garde art practises such as Dadaism and cubism. The history and the steps towards the birth and evolution of these forms of digital media, the cultural and social aspects, key examples of artists works, such as Marcel Duchamp’s “Naked descending of a staircase”, Edouard Manet and Seurat’s work, Pablo Picasso’s work, Dj Spooky’s work, current installations and implementations of these arts, styles of VJ artists work and generative art artists that showcase these relationships and influences, the processes behind them, the creative thinking, arguments about the evolution of digital arts, the difficulties in the development and acceptance of these arts by the mainstream art environment of the early stages of creativity , links that exhibit a clear relationship between loads of predecessor artistic styles and future associations.

The history:
In 1929 Philo Taylor Farnsworth broadcasted the first television image. In the 1950s TV innovators such as Ernie Kovacs used the current technology of that age in order to produce means of artistic practise and exhibited the work in front of live audiences to increase the popularity and the effect these new artistic practises would have on the general public. This lasted until the vast growth of Television and the Media broadcasted from it situations became more conservative and “censored” if u may say so. In the 1970s though due to the first audio synthesisers, which were built by Bell Labs, the development of image synthesizing was near. The Experimental Television Centre, which was found in Owego New York by an artist in 1971, gave video hardware to various artists of the field in order to experiment with this new and exciting art. Most of the work produced was exhibited in the nightclub named Hurrah, which quickly became an alternative art gallery for the showcase of these artists. The result was that artists like this could finally get their avant garde work seen by the public, something that wasn’t possible on regular broadcast outlets. This was only the beginning of an underground alternative to the mainstream TV. All this was just early signs of what was going to happen next. In the 1980s the first use of the term “video Jockey” was used for Merrill Aldighieri. Merrill was inspired by screens that were hanging from the ceiling in a night club and was inspired and started creating visuals for the screens narrating the sounds played by the DJs. The development of software applications gave the opportunity to individual computer users to experience this newly born form of art through the first commercially available VJ software package called Motion Dive, however other software had been produced such as Vujak but not available for public consumers . In the 90s and 2000s hardware and software development marked the rapid growth of this art form and the interest of large music industries for audio visual sound shows helped in the further development and popularity increase of this art form [1]. Vjing though is not just a series of images or videos put together in order to produce an audio visual show. Generative art and software art played a key role in the growth of this art form. As sounds and music got transformed from analogue media to digital media so did the forms of Vjing and got influenced by the beauty of science and algorithms and the narrative linking the analogue, physical and digital world. These 3 art forms, Vjing, Generative art and Software are not just beautiful images and happy colours, but sometimes a live showcase of the relationship between the user input, the digital process and the final outcome ” Before, the creation of material images was the primary goal of visual art, and the immaterial code that guided the process was regarded as secondary. Now, the creation of the code -- more broadly, the concept -- becomes the primary creative act.”(The Matrix of Sensations) - Donald Kuspit.
Non acceptance of the predecessors of Vj and generative artists. And the birth of a new style:
Early digital artists or computer artists were inspired by the use of new mediums for creation. Most of the early digital artists were considered or came from a background of experimental art. An early digital artist, Dr Rondey Chang, was focusing on digital painting and sculpting and used prints as a means of exhibiting his art ,however the basic problem at that time, around the 80s, was the low quality of digital prints , due to this art critics would discard his work due to comparison to older art pieces and movements of artistic practise. However some may say that a new style of art had emerged, Pixelism. Pixelism can be directly linked to large VJ installations where the costs prohibit the use of huge plasma screens which is quite impossible and instead favour the use of LED screens. Each LED is a Pixel and therefore all the visual elements become Pixelated, the closer to the screen the more of a pixelated style audience receives. Early artists just like Chang would feel dishonoured, unacknowledged and left to with no consideration of being artists, so the need to revolt was eminent. Artists would either hide their “digital” identity due to fear of not being considered as artists or provoke the art world with their work, comments, statements, lifestyle and declarations. These artists were the beginning of the acknowledgment of digital artists as actual artists. Then the fast growth of the Internet gave the possibility for digital artists to showcase their work to a newly established audience. Some artists went on to become cyber artists or Web artists considering and caring only for their cyber/Web audience and thinking of the Web not just as a means of showing their art or creating a protesting underground art community that opposes to the mainstream commercial based art, but as a path towards the transformation of all aspects of art and the way different, new and emerging art styles are considered and embraced. [2]
The influences:
Relationships between these forms of postmodern art can be found in various famous paintings such as the work of Edouard Manet where the principle of coding of sensations is implemented and Seurat where a primitive form of pixels can be noticed on the style of his paintings. Did Manet and Seurat predict the future of art and the influence of technology through the style of their paintings? No one can be sure, but what can be said is that there is a relative link between Manet’s work and the functionality of our current technologically based culture which is noticeable in postmodern art. Just like Manet’s art showed the link between the artistic process and the “coding of sensations” that immerged from the final art piece, and Seurat’s pixelated looking paintings , an image now is based on pixels and all the pixels are placed on a grid in order to produce a final piece which will provide various sensations[3]. These new forms of art also show the relationship between the digital artist, his means of artistic practise and the response of the audience ” Like a performance poet; the VJ performs in time before an audience. Like a poetry video artist”- Kurt Heintz. These forms of art are unique since nothing like this existed before them. However there are numerous associations and references with past artistic movements and pieces of art but the way these means of art are created is a true representation of the relationships and the actions that occur from the digital bits. Just like a canvas and paints, screens or other surfaces capable of “holding” these art pieces, and bits as paints are the new way of manifestation this form of post modern art. Although early examples of generative art were criticised as not aesthetically and conceptually innovative, however the fact that the art was generated by elements that had their own digital signature and character made them even more unique. Early artists that engaged with these new art forms are Micha Klein, who graduated from Amsterdam after doing a computer graphics degree and began his artistic practises through digital painting all the way to digital media installations. Dj Spooky ,a a well know Dj,Vj and theorist worked with the use of sounds , music , media , digital media in order to produce works of art narrating current political issues or past political issues. His greatest examples of work are Marcel Duchamp remix, LA Museum of Contemp. Art, 2002 and Terra Nova Sinfonia Antarctica. [4][5]

Avant Garde Practises:
Dadaism and Marcel Duchamp:

All the artistic work from these artists and digital artists were influenced strongly by the ideas and principles of avant garde and the art movement of Dadaism. Dadaism was born during the first world war and the uniqueness of this art form was that the Dadaists weren’t concerned about the aesthetics of the artwork but the content and the hidden messages and the expression of their ideals to the public, it was a way of protesting u might say, There is an definite relationship between Dadaism and generative art and VJ, in a way that works of dada artists were a huge conjunction of visual elements and data in general all coexisting and correlating in order to produce a final outcome .Just like Dadaism .generative art uses data and byte information or any type of data in order to explore relationships and express them in the final piece through an art piece. Vj’s try to explore a relationship between the sounds, the emotions of the audience and the visual elements in order to produce a final piece of artwork “The creative act is not performed by the artist alone; the spectator brings the work in contact with the external world by deciphering and interpreting its inner qualifications and thus adds his contribution to the creative act.” - Marcel Duchamp, from Session on the Creative Act, Convention of the American Federation of Arts, Houston, Texas, April 1957. In general all the processes of new digital media and digital arts can be linked to Dadaism since everything can be made by a process of collaging in one way or another. An artist that explored Dadaism in depth was Marcel Duchamp .One of his most famous paintings is Nude descending of a staircase no2, which had influences of cubism, futurism and abstract art practices .This piece caused masses of controversy around the art world in the US cause of its title, however Dadaism in Europe was a lot more graphical, controversial, offensive some might say. The piece was requested either to be hidden or painted over the title, however Marcel simply took the painting and left with it in a taxi and stated that that day was a turning point for his artistic practices .Future work like the fountain would involve a urinal as an art piece, exhibits of art that shocked the western world. After that Marcel went on to expand his artistic practices trying to find new ways of creating an art engaging in different variations of known physics and relationships of objects and their actions, then moved on to focus on kinetic installations.[3][6][7]

The way Marcel Duchamp would create his artworks links directly to the generative art, where an action generates another action and so on, all being related to existing data. . In general most of the digital artists and generative art artists focus more on the steps and the processes that lead towards the final result just like Marcel. Through the development of these new forms of art, artists would come from different backgrounds even with no or little knowledge of artistic practises "A man paints with his brains and not with his hands." -Michelangelo. Scientists, computer programmers etc would create amazing pieces of artistic work using raw data or the relationships between these types of data. Particle collisions, temperatures, binary code. Sounds, network data, error corrections, bit rate and generally all types of data get converted to tools of artistic practise. Just like digital artists, Marcel would consider all the results from actions he performed in order to produce an art piece, and that can be seen through his work where one layer is a result of actions that occurred in the previous layer. Finally he produced one last piece of art after 25 years of inactivity when everyone thought that Marcel Duchamp was done with art. He made a controversial art piece showing a woman with her legs spread, face and arm hidden, the other arm holding a lamp and a background of waterfalls, this art piece could only be visible through a peep hole on a wooden door. [7]

Vjs and Dj Spooky:
Just like Marcel’s work, loads of Later VJ artists were influenced due to the sarcasm and the conflict his pieces of work inflicted so VJ artists were able to express their opinions about all aspects of society in front of a large crowd. A strong example of this can be found in DJ Spooky’s work (Saturation Station) in collaboration with a multi-media artist collective named One Infinity in order to understand and showcase the effects of the media on the events of 9/11. Media created a trance effect on the US citizens but on the rest of the world as well. This art piece tries to show the effects of the media broadcasts had on the war effort and to state the idea that media is the Achilles heel of the modern liberal democracy [8]. Another piece from DJ Spooky worth mentioning is Simfonia Antarctica where inspired by the work of an artist named Johnny Cage who performed the music used in this piece just using 12 turntables. Simfonia Antarctica is a newer implementation of the older music, in this piece Dj Spooky works with a live string ensemble and visuals on the background. As DJ Spooky says this piece is a meditation about landscape. Through the combination of visuals and the string ensemble a relationship between the effects of human action in the environment while using music as a means of information. The visuals in this piece of his work start from a relaxing variation of videos related to the environment and especially Antarctica and closer to the end of the video the sudden change of the music track and the visuals can be closely related to a strong attempt to exhibit the artists views on political situations that affected the environment and other aspects of life on earth. The influence of Dadaism is strong in this .however no sign of a humorous attempt for criticism can be seen due to the nature of the problem the artist is trying to highlight and the importance of it.[9]

Cubism:
Other influences in generative art and VJ art can be linked to the avant garde movement of cubism with some of the world’s most famous painters such as Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. Cubism had can be separated in to basic styles, Analytical Cubism and Synthetic Cubism. Analytical Cubism focuses on the analysis of natural forms and objects and the resulting effect was a representation of basic geometrical shapes. The lack of colours was obvious since there was use of monochromatic variations of a particular colour [10].An interesting example of generative art in our days is the work of Vladimir Todorovic named The snail on the slope which was based on a book with the same title by the Strugatsky brothers, where the story Is set on an unknown planet with humans based on a base while investigating and trying to conquer the forest. The forest though is constantly changing and fighting back. The movie is separated in to five parts .which tries to address the questions of artistic and scientific efforts to understand nature. [11]
Influences from fractals, cubism and electronic music:
Loads of other examples can be found in works of various fractal artists that focused on a cubist representation of data through their pieces of fractal art. It can also be noted that early forms of Vj art were based on these artistic practises since there was a distinct link between the style of music that helped in the development of this particular art. The influences of electronic based music are undeniably evident in the development of Vj art since there was a feeling of abstractivity in the music and something very out of the ordinary at the time these music styles emerged, so as a result the majority of artists focused in expressing this abstractivity through their visuals with visuals influenced by the works of Picasso and Braque However links can be made to the cubist’s ideals aswell since music wasn’t complex in elements such as melodies and notes but mainly focused on beats and repetitive patterns ,something like a melody stripped down to its basic geometry .Another piece of work worth mentioning by the artist Dj Spooky is Errata Erratum, although the piece is strongly influenced by the work of Marcel Duchamp and linked to his practises , the construction of this piece of art can also be linked to the style of Synthetic Cubism where different elements, styles, textures and elements of collage practise have been implemented, just like the Piece Three musicians by Pablo Picasso. It can be said that just like Maunet’s and Seurat’s work, where the term pixels can be witnessed just like in the works of cubists artists the idea of layering elements while focusing and implementing the style of cubism using basic geometric shapes .[7][10][12]
Widely spread uses of VJ and generative art:
Enough has been said for the political and cultural aspects of VJ art and Generative art. The most widely usage of these arts has been noticed in the music entertainment industry, such as VJ installations for concerts, tv shows and night clubs. Since the early stages of VJ art ,VJs have been used to enhance big events with their visuals in order to combine music art and visual art with the purpose of providing an engaging and beautiful, disturbing or any other kind of feeling based audio-visual experience. A relevant example proving this are the new types of clubs based in Berlin. Lisbon and Barcelona named Kubik Clubs. These clubs are located in open space and consist of a number of containers that are all connected to a set of lights and all together linked to a central VJ system. An undeniably connection to the Cubist art movements can also be noticed since these clubs focus on the simple beauty of the music ,the club that consists only of the cubes ,the VJ elements and the emotions expressed by the people in the club. It can be said that these clubs are a “cubist approach to what nightlife club entertainment should be” simplifying everything down to the bare basics and simply focusing on the experience. Just like cubists would focus on key elements of the form it can be said that the audience in this occasion is the key element in this process .Installations like these make the audience feel the audio visual experience in a more interactive way from the combination of visual and sound stimulations [13] .Evolution of Vj art was drastic when the release of software made the possibility of users with no knowledge of Vj art or Generative or any other type of art had the potential to create works of art that were relevant to the work of Vj artists ,or even better. Due to this drastic computer development the everyday day user becomes a cubist, a Dadaist ,a futurist or in general any artistic practise influenced artist. Most of the time, users don’t even know the potential masterpieces they have just created or are helping other artists to create from the users interaction with software and PC elements.




Conclusion:
Manet and Seurat , Picasso and Braque , Dj Spooky , Vj artists , Generative artists , programmers , scientists , poets ,opposing art critics and scholars are only a small part of the contributors that helped in the birth os as some may say the attempt to kill these 2 new emerging art forms of Digital art, Vj art and Generative art. Who could imagine our current world with no Vj elements in most media shows or music concerts, or with no political “remixing” of various types of media with the purpose of criticising our cultural and political state. Marcel Duchamp criticised the world through his work therefore inspiring Dj Spooky to criticise our current world through audio visual art pieces. As long as people remember the past there will be new art forms , new critics , new technologies that can be used for artistic practise instead of just mainstream commercialised use. References to the past will always be eminent just like the evolution of the human so the evolution of digital art will be constantly noticeable.



References:

[1]: General history

[2]:Non acceptance and criticism

[3] Donald Kuspit and his associations about forms of digital art and past artistic movements.
[4]Micha Klein

[5]Dj Spooky

[6]Dadaism

[7]Marcel Duchamp

[8]Dj Spooky Saturation Essay

[9]Dj Spooky Terra Nova Sinfonia Antarctica
[10]Cubism

[11]Snail on the slope

[12]Dj Spooky Errata Erratum
Link 1
link 2

[13]KubiK Clubs


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