Wired Worlds

Artists: Nigel Johnson, Toshio Iwai, Art&Com, Paul Sermon, Jane Prophet, Jeffrey Shaw

Curator: Malcolm Ferris

Venue: National Museum of Photography, Film & Television, Pictureville, Bradford, West Yorkshire

Six artists from Japan, Australia, Germany and the UK were commissioned for the UK’s first permanent gallery of new media – part of the National Museum of Photography, Film & Television’s £16m Imaging Frontiers programme.

Curator Malcolm Ferris’s aim was to reveal some of the essential aspects of digital media through art, such as the alteration of common notions of space, place, identity, narrative and representation. Above all, the work had to ‘engage’ visitors; Ferris wanted them to be active participants in the experience.

The first work, by UK artist Nigel Johnson, is an interactive Digital Portal at the entrance to the gallery, conceived as a performance of retro Seventies-style computer graphics. As visitors pass through the portal, their height and movement are sensed and represented as dynamic pixel-blocks and shapes. Toshio Iwai’s contribution to the Seeing the World domain is a manipulation of live video images of visitors using four video cameras and eight computers to ‘sculpt’ the images, displayed on eight monitors.

In The Net World domain, German group Art&Com’s installation Ride-the-Byte is an interactive 3D representation of the earth projected on the wall, evoking the travel of data on the World Wide Web. UK artist Paul Sermon explores issues of presence, absence and human interaction in a live video installation in the same domain, involving two video-monitored and linked beds in different locations and live and pre-recorded streams of video.

In the Virtual Worlds domain, Jeffrey Shaw of Australia has created the Golden Calf virtual sculpture on a real, empty plinth viewed on a hand-held LCD display.

To end the domain, UK artist Jane Prophet and programmer Gordon Selley have created the TechnoSphere III screen environment – a world populated by 4000 artificial life forms in 16kmsq of terrain.

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