While much of digital art is web
based or net.art, the design and architecture communities push pixels
into everyday experience. Architecture, possibly the most elaborate digital
art form, is supple in the hands of Diller + Scofidio. As recent presenters
at the Whitney Museum of American Art in a series of lectures on architecture,
Diller + Scofidio are at the top of the heap after winning the coveted
McArthur Foundation grant this year. This pair are poised to capture the
crown again with "Blur", a pavilion being designed for the 2002
World's Fair in Switzerland. For "Blur", a set of tiered platforms
several hundred feet wide and long will be positioned over a lake on structural
stilts. Hundreds of jets will pump water from the lake up to the platforms,
spraying a very highly dispersed, fine mist. A long rampway will connect
to the shore where the mist will appear to have created a small cloud
hovering just above the lake and hiding the platforms of the pavilion.
B ut Diller + Scofidio will ask that before you walk up the ramp and into
the cloud, that you wear a "Braincoat". Hey, they have your
best interests in mind. The "Braincoat" will have a set of minuscule
speakers in each lapel because the building will apparently have something
to say. Blur will be wired and what is becoming known as a "smart
building." Once on the pavilion your position will be tracked through
a matrix on each platform and the CPU will instruct your "Braincoat"
to murmur what Diller + Scofidio are calling "babble." If your
mouth is dry from anticipation as mine will be, don't worry they thought
of that too. The bar on the top platform will serve gourmet waters from
around the world. No one will be allowed on the pavilion at night but
Diller + Scofidio fully intend to use the "cloud" as a backdrop
for film screenings in the evening.
Architecture may in fact have more in common with cinema in that it is
a time based experience(http://www.timebase.org).
Yet, an entire hemisphere of the digital art world is not characterized
as time based. This includes 2-D design, typography, architectural models,
digital imaging and the multitude of fine art media hybrids. A full assortment
of these objects are represented in a show at the Center for Visual Art
+ Culture at Stamford University through November 17. The show, "Working
Digitally: No Websites Please", curated by Saul Ostrow, attempts
to frame a collection of works which are not web based, net.art.
Fabian Marcaccio, a painter well known in the eighties, has become a player
through the nineties and into 2000, developing his signature style while
collaborating with the architect Greg Lynn. His work in this show seems
as fresh and relevant as ever, and just as formally transgressive as I
had come to expect. The paint has been applied diffidently and yet skillfully
over a stretched digital iris print of a nude woman. Greg Lynn is represented
in the show by a sculptural mold he designed for the next Marcaccio/Lynn
collaboration. The mold, a relic of the intended final piece is nevertheless
a seductive object. The two halves lay side by side, mirroring the design
etched into the other. Extremely fine terraces create depth and show the
trace of digital inscription that no hand could ever produce. A Martha
Burgess assemblage takes up a skylit wall and a Maureen Connor video of
a woman's lips and lipstick plays on a small screen mounted into a free
standing, antique makeup mirror.
All of these artists use digital media in some part of their process or
to display their work. As the curator hints, these works have traditional
media and the gallery as their context and possibly the grounds for their
ultimate meaning. Still, it remains to be seen how the incredible talent
of the art world transitions with digital media from the confines of the
gallery apparatus, beyond the limitations of the web and into the lucidity
that characterizes the Saturday night experience.