In this section, we present web sites that explore the way technology influences art. On one hand, there are sites that promote digital art, whether in the form of installations or as an extension of computer science with techniques such as animation and digital painting. And on the other, the various festivals and organizations who are active in research and promotion of innovative ideas to the public.
Boston Cyberarts is one of the biggest digital arts festivals held in the USA. It started in 2007 and in the first year it had 22,000 visitors who viewed works by two hundred artists. It is held biennially and it lasts two weeks between April and May; Massachusetts is considered as the state with the biggest population of digital artists and, by extension, Boston is thought as the cultural center of high technology. During the festival, a variety of events are available, events such as animation exhibitions, video projections, music concerts, installations, talks, conferences, open discussions etc.
In the festival’s web site visitors can see that the organization’s activities are classified in four categories: there are the ongoing projects which are ran under the auspices of the festival, the center of experimental expression and research of new forms of digital art, a platform of communication and collaboration between artists, entrepreneurs, organizations and academic institutions and, finally, the festival itself; each of these activities has its own separate web site while there is also a newsletter published by the organization and which is circulated through email.
In 1995, Andy Cunningham a marketer specializing in the promotion of high technology companies and who had collaborated with brands such as Cisco, Apple and HP, had the idea to bring artists and technologists together so the interaction between them would create ideas that could have an effect on society and the world in general. Five years later, in 2001, the organization Zero 1 was created (the inspiration for the name was the binary system that lies in the heart of all computer systems) while the fruit of this initiative and also the core of the organization’s activities is a biennial festival.
In the web site, which has an original and very functional navigation menu, visitors can see the organization’s history and basic contributors, learn about its sponsorship programs offered in collaboration with giants of information technology like Google and Adobe, follow a very interesting blog updated on a daily basis and see various events and projects founded by Zero 1, like the impressive “The Bay Lights”.
SOSO Limited is a company dealing with the creation of high technology art works. It was founded in 2003 from three former MIT students specialized in architecture, music, arts, physics and computer science and its present projects move within the boundaries of art, design and the circulation of information. The company’s activities involve interactive installations, applications and live performances in works that include dynamic typography, video processing, sensor technology and aural design.
In SOSO’s web site, visitors can see the company’s gamut of services, read presentations of its work in various media, see the list of awards it has received for this work and download a PDF file containing a sample of its portfolio. The most interesting section is the one offering samples of SOSO’s creations; among these of particular interest is an installation for the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences: it includes digital panels with natural sound reproductions.
OpenEndedGroup is a group made up from digital art artists Marc Downie, Shelley Eshkar and Paul Kaiser whose ground breaking approach to digital art is based on three different techniques: non-photorealistic three dimensional rendering, body movement tracking through specialized software and artificial intelligence integration (so art works can function autonomously). The trio’s creations cover a broad spectrum of forms including dance, music, films etc.
In the group’s web site, visitors can see samples of all art works the particular artists have created; for every work there is a description, video of how it interacts with the exhibition visitors and animations illustrating its function. Also available is information about the group’s various exhibition spaces and read essays written by the group members.
AOS is a personal web site presenting innovative international projects and trends coming from the field of digital art. Its creator is Salvatore Iaconesi, a programmer working in open source software applications, hence the name of the site. AOS was founded in 2004 after a four month digital art and related technologies festival that was organized in Rome.
In the site, visitors can see samples of dozens of works with detailed descriptions and with accompanying texts explaining the aims behind its creation and the technologies used for, as well as audio-visual material (i.e. video). Since in most digital art works there is interaction with the viewing public, AOS focuses on the social extensions of each work and on the way it attempts to change various aspects of our everyday life. Also, available is information about the talks given by the team supporting the whole project (these talks are organized in collaboration with various universities and foundations) and also presentation material in PDF format.
Leonardo is a museum in Utah, USA that serves as a meeting point between arts and science and technology. It started operating on October 2011 and is housed in the building that used to be Salt Lake City’s public library; the name of the museum is obviously inspired by Leonardo Da Vinci and his multifaceted personality (artist, inventor, scientist, engineer, anatomist) and it reflects its will to also function on multiple levels, while keeping its emphasis in interactive exhibits that bring visitors to close proximity with the art works.
In the museum’s web site, visitors can learn about its various activities which include educational programs for children, public dialogues, creative workshops and seminars for the young, all-night stays in the museum for families etc while there is also a special section with all the exhibitions that have been organized with descriptions and links to the web sites of collaborating organizations.
ImagineFx is a magazine dealing with painting and sketching from fields such as digital art and fantasy literature; it began publication in 2006 and it belongs to Future Publishing, the sixth bigger media company in Britain and publisher of more than 150 magazine titles. The Internet version of the magazine has all the characteristics of a community with members presenting their creations and exchanging views.
Visitors can see collections of members’ creations; these collections draw their themes from fantasy worlds (i.e. dragons, goblins, castles, exotic female figures etc.) Of particular interest is the workshops section where users can download teaching material about various techniques in PDF format. Also available are interviews with artists, reviews of products such as drawing software and hardware as well as the opportunity to participate in a comprehensive forum with more than 45,000 members.
Culturebase is a directory aiming to promote artists who live and work in Europe; these are artists who come from all over the world but who have had some permanent relationship with the five European organizations that support the site (Baltic Sea Cultural Centre, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Danish Center for Culture and Development, Intercult and Visiting Arts) during the last decade.
The promotion of said artists is done through various criteria such as the field of the art, the country in which the artist has worked, the name of the project, the foundation with which they collaborated or, in the case of musicians, the instrument they specialize in. For every artist there is a detailed page with relative information: a resume, a text written by the artists themselves about the exhibition or project that led to their inclusion in the directory, awards and distinctions they have achieved, other exhibitions or projects they have participated in and links to other web sites featuring their works.
Gray Area is a non-profit organization that attempts to bring the public closer to digital culture through specialized exhibitions and projects that make extensive use of technology. It was founded in 2009 in San Francisco, a city that has the advantage of proximity both to technology (since its famous “Silicon valley” has been a nursery for new technologies’ companies for decades) and to art since its workforce includes more artists than any other city in the USA.
In Gray Area’s web site, visitors can see the current exhibitions as well as an archive of the ones that have been organized in the past. Besides exhibitions, the foundation also organizes seminars on various subjects; like, for example, the one teaching the use of the 3-D graphics engine Unity combined with the game console Xbox. Also of interest is the research section where visitors can see innovative projects that are carried through by both artists and information scientists.
What is the connection between Intel and art? At first sight, none, but through “The Creators Project” which also involves the publishing company Vice, Intel is funding innovative projects that aim to promote another aspect of technology. Since some of the projects are particularly demanding, Intel hopes to improve its processing technology and create better products in the future. The works funded belong to six different categories: music, film, art, design, games and fashion and the site hosts hundreds of videos providing information about each project, interviews with the creators and live performances that have been organized.
An indication to the project’s success is that during 2011, the site was visited by nineteen million people and the videos dealing with various projects that came up through this initiative were reproduced more than one hundred million times all over the Internet. In the three years that “The Creators Project” has been in existence, more than forty million dollars have been spent for the funding of various works of art.