Monday, October 30, 2006

OpenEnded Group

This is a New Media inspirational Monday piece. When I went up to Toronto last week I got to run around the big city maze while collecting morsels of data and brainfuzz. But, it wasn't until this weekend that I got to sit down and cut OpenEnded Group from the pages of the newest Print Magazine. In it, the embassador of animation, John Canemaker, exposes a new chapter in the evolution of the persistance of vision as the form becomes self-aware. The OpenEnded Group is a collaberative between artists Paul Kaiser, Shelley Eshkar and Marc Downie. Kaiser and Eshkar have been creating "hand-drawn" 3D spaces for installation projects for dance, theatre, screen and public spaces for the last decade. While Downie came into the fold in 2001 to add artificial intelligence and real-time interfacing to the groups creative arsenal of hi-tech tools. Their works of art bring animation not only into 3D but into the Fourth dimension of Time. Take for example their piece, Biped, it is a visual discourse between dancers and motion captured 3D images, beautifully rendered as gesture drawing come to life, that float and partake in the performance like an echo. In the similar life-giving vein, Ghostcatching (shown above), which removes the physicality of the dancers but captures their afterimage and now brings it fully into and onto the virtual stage.
Enlightenment ,though, not only marks the groups advancement into 'sentient' animation but it is the title of their commisioned piece for the Lincoln's Center, Mostly Mozart Festival. This public installation uses A.I. and real-time graphics to celebrate the genius of Mozart, specifically in his Jupiter coda. Basically, the program analyzes the musical score while trying to recontruct the composition using the rules of counterpoint. Starting off one note at a time the program compares and adds or subtracts notes as it attempts to piece the composition together. As it completes each theme of the composition a visual image is generated on-screen building in complexity with the music. Here is a nice artical and interview about the piece and for the nuts and bolts go here. This 'sentient' animation logically gives birth to a whole new way of interactivity to the image. In their latest work, Playground, virtual children interact according to the viewers actions. Not only can the 'thinking' image, as John Canemaker puts it, interact with the physical presence but with it's own surrounding environment: texture, light, patterns (both physical and abstract) and most importantly time! This sets into motion a new dynamic responsive world for you and I to observe, participate, react to and affect. What we are witnessing is the virtual "Lucy" in an Open-Ended progress of becoming an active viewer instead of a passive observer.

Hold onto yer seats kiddies because the Emperor is standing in front of a green screen and has no clothes. There is substance to this illusion.

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