Visions of Science – visions of the future

I have two passions within my art practice which trump all the other passions: drawing and objects. I love to draw. It is my thing. I doodle all of the time. And objects fascinate me. I love my things. I have a relationship with all things that I see as valuable as the relationships I have with people. And I’ve recently become quite intrigued by the concept of intangible objects and the role they have in our lives, as either objects that exist or objects that can be created through art in cyberspace. My current question is: can we have as strong a relationship with intangible things as we can with tangible? So instead of asking whether we can have as strong a relationship with people as we can with things, which was my previous research question, mainly with my BA, it is now whether this strength can extent from solid to the non-haptic. I would like to think that the answer is ‘yes’ but this idea needs further investigation and testing.

When I found out about the Vision of Science exhibition at The Edge in Bath I realised that it was a must for me to see this in terms of how closely it could relate to my art practice and research. 

Bath is a 250-mile round trip from my house and I made this trip yesterday, to the point of exhaustion by 10pm, but it was worth every mile. The exhibition did not disappoint. It included an eclectic, but thoughtfully put together, selection of artworks inspired by science or the digital world. It consisted of many expressions of the creative – two-dimensional and three-dimensional, static and non-static, digital and traditional, and those created by craft and those created by computer. This is what art should be now – anything goes and nothing should be beyond the realms of possibility or the definition of ‘creative’.

There was one particular highlight for me and that was a video / performance piece / oil painting in action by Albert Barqué-Duran called ‘My Artificial Muse’. This piece was presented in the exhibition as a video of a performance but it encompassed so many ways of expression that it would be restrictive to call it just a video piece. In this piece, he questions whether a muse can be artificial. Can a computer generate a muse, which traditionally is very much the physical and very much of the flesh? It looks into the field of computational creativity, which aims to formulate an algorithmic perspective on creative behaviour and aesthetic appreciation in humans. Given that my last mini-project as part of my MA research was about creating new ‘cyber’ objects in a traditional format (oil paint) based on descriptions that came to me from real ‘flesh’ (people) via cyberspace, this notion of creating a muse by algorithm interests me.

My Artificial Muse in action

I feel that I have now had the spur I needed to rejoin the sometimes difficult road towards the conclusion of my MA Thesis. The subject will never conclude of course, but I need to reach some sort of mini-conclusion and point of exhibition in order to tie the ends up neatly, for now at least. I can continue the road beyond that at my leisure (or as a PhD if fortune shines down on me).

There were many other artworks to inspire me at The Edge but this was the one that will remain with me, including a number of pieces by two people I know in the real world, one of which I participated in in an indirect way at the Virtual Reality Drawing Symposium I attended which was pivotal in giving me direction in my MA. There is much of quality and contemporaneity to see.

By way of conclusion, when I told my son what I was going to do in Bath he looked at me and said: ‘Mother, I know what you are, you are a VRtist!’

The exhibition runs until October 13th.

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