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Sunday, September 5, 2010

Osmose and Dislocation

As time ages, so does Art. Art has been like a journal for humankind to reflect the different changes that human culture have undergone. In this time and age where technology has been a great vehicle that fueled a change in the life of men, it has not only impacted our way of life but our art as well. Looking back, artists have developed art that were considered as great works using only materials that were available during their time. Nowadays, artists have access to more arrays of art mediums and they have developed contemporary art forms with the aid of modern technology that are fascinating and makes us see the world in a different view.

One such works is by Char Davies who have gained technological expertise and gained prestige in the digital arts media community. One of her famous works is “Osmose” where one has to use a head-mounted display together with a vest that keeps track of balance and breathing to avoid the feeling of being disembodied usually felt when immersed in a virtual world. When one enters the world of Osmose, the immersant experiences being in a semi-transparent world of a forest with trees, ponds, and subterranean earth. The sounds that would be heared throughout is that of a female and male voice that utters phonetics as well as choral voices (Popper 2007) . The aim of Osmose is for the immersant to be in touch with the inner self and be conscious of one's own feelings to rediscover themselves. Osmose's data visualization technique is very effective because it clearly communicates the aim of the presentation through visual representation. The semi-transparency that was used and the amount of space that was explorable communicates the point of the immersion across which is introspection for the immersant. One could say that the aesthetics of the work facilitated the achievement of its function.The proper sonification techniques added to the perception and emotions of the immersant making what is viewed more vivid because of the effective aural suggestions that were heard. The use of the choral voices when an immersant chose to rise higher is an effective data sonification technique because it further highlights the rise in altitude since choral voices would usually denote heaven. In a cultural environment that is getting vey impersonal due to a changing environment, an experience like osmose is way to again reclaim self awareness and look at the world in a refreshed perspective.

Another intriguing work in the digital and interactive art world is a work by Alex Davies which he called “Dislocation”. It is a mixed reality installation wherein the subject would look into portals and would then see images of other people or events happening that in truth are non-existent. Data visualization was incorporated into the work by creating illusions and gained the aim of illiciting human responses to reality that was only contstructed. These illusions gave the experience a disturbing effect which was one of the reactions the artist was actually aiming for. Data sonification on the other hand did not need much technical tweaks because the actual sounds were already very effective in implying that the events happening are only within the area of the viewer. Though very visually and aurally stimulating, the aim of this type of work is vague and although fascinating lacks real purpose. In fairness to the artist, he may have a support for his craft but personally speaking, his work has no distinct bearing to human life. It's relevance is limited only to those who are technically familiar to it but does not reach out to the other ordinary people.

Both the works Osmose and Dislocation have both highlighted the digital and interactive art genre. These works when judged on aesthetics and sounds are very notable and employed techniques that are very innovative and fascinating. However, the meaningful implications of both works are varied and caters different groups. Osmose being more accessible and easily comprehensible while Dislocation is quite deep and emotionally disturbing. In terms of technique, both these presentations were carefully mapped and programmed. Considering the issues raised by other traditional artists that digital and interactive art rely on technological trickery to attract the attention of people, one cannot help but be critical on how these art forms are created and whether the skills required to make them would define the programmer or designer as an artist by definition. At hind sight, the immediate human response would be that of awe but dissecting the processes involved would aid in how one would categorize these works. Osmose, in a personal point of view, took a real artist for it to be created. It mixed both science and art to be able to assemble a world that is a treat for the senses and a cure for the spirit. On the other hand, dislocation relied on pre-recorded scenes that were viewed in a portal. In a simpler perspective, it was like watching a movie but because of it's layering with real-time events it was thus made intriguing. With the right technical facilities and location, Dislocation is easier reproduced as Osmose would be. Despite the contrasts, both these works have contributed to the growth of the digital and interactive arts. The caliber of these works attests to the growing art genre that is digital art and growth in numbers of those engaging in it can contribute to it's acceptance in the traditional art world as a serious art form.

Art is a way of arranging different elements to create something that would affect human emotions and senses. The digital and interactive arts have in more ways than one fit the definition of Art. It's proliferation because of our radically modernizing world should not be criticized but be cultivated because it is an expression of human thoughts and emotions. Art is a journal for humankind and works like Osmose and Dislocation are chapters that reflect another age in our lives.

List of References
Cleland, K and Muller, L. (2008) Mirror States. [online] available from
http://www.mirrorstates.com/ [26 May 2010]

Davies, A. (2005) Dislocation. [online] available from
http://schizophonia.com/installation/dislocation/index.html [26 May 2010]

Davies, Char (2004) Virtual Space. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press

Popper, F. (2007) From Technological to Virtual Art. Massachussetts: The MIT Press

Muller, L. (2005) Evocative objects, Strange selves. RealtimeArts [online]
available from http://www.realtimearts.net/article/70/7981 [26 May 2010]

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