Nila, Shiyun Liu 11260799
Craig Walsh is a contemporary Australian artist works with digital technologies. He is internationally recognised for his experimental digital art projects and installations exploring the edge of digital and reality. The majority of Craig Walsh’s works are large-scale projections which in response to the environment of specific site. He has been awarded several national residencies and commissions, and his work has been exhibit around the world, including Canada, Japan, United States and UK. Artefact H10515 is one of his lasted work exhibit in Powerhouse Museum Sydney in 2009.
ARTEFACT H10515 has a very unusual and mysteries title as an Art piece . The first half of the name, Artefact, means any object made or modified by humans. The code “H10515” comes from the historical method of Museum for numbering and cataloguing objects. The Museum used to divide objects into categories such as wool, minerals, vegetable products etc. with an assigned letter of the alphabet for each. When an item entered the collection, it was categories with a letter followed by a number under the category. H10515 is the last number in the ‘miscellaneous’ or “unclassifiable” groups. Hence the title reflect to the physical environment of the exhibition where is the Powerhouse Museum and unidentifiable character of the artwork.
Craig Walsh explained his work as “a living, unidentifiable object and sits in contrast to how objects in a museum are usually presented”. Like many new media artworks which involved multimedia contents, Artefact H10515 is an collaborated work by Craig Walsh with assistances from programmer and 3D animator Steven Thomasson and sound composer and designer Lawrence English. The combination efforts of the experts in digital technology, make the artwork looks like a living creature lives in a large glass cube. It moves, breathes, roars, changes the colours of its skin. Its flashing tentacles react On the end of its tentacles, random pictures appears occasionally. The pictures have to source, first is based on the collection of Powerhouse Museum, and the others are from an associate website Thingalyzer. Visitors can upload their favourite things from their own collection to feed Artefact H10515. The website will estimate
a time when the picture uploaded by particular users will appear on the tentacles of the artwork. The creature shivers, grasps the object and then seemingly ingests it. In this way, visitors to the museum can find a new method to interact and express their preference about the museum.
Thingalyzer is not only the website where to feed Artefact H10515, its also a software which downloads and decides the pictures appears on the tentacles. The video about How Artefact H10515 works reveal the tricks inside the glass cube. There are four computers controls the movement and the downloaded picture datas. The living creature in the cube are all image projections generated by the computers.
INFLUENCES & ARTISTIC CONTEXT
Interactive Arts & Participatory culture
Participatory media culture also emerge in artworks. With the growing phenomena of web2.0, more and more websites are friendly to user participation and interaction. Many of them even rely their website content on their visitor, like blogs, youtube and flickers. The more open the website is, the easier it can find users. Meanwhile, media content open to multiple interoperation are more likely to become popular.
Australian digital artist and theorist Jeffrey Shaw is one of the pioneer in interactive digital art projections. The Legible City (1988-1991) is one of his most representative work which translate physical actions of the visitor to digital movements on screen. Participants ride on a stationary bicycle to navigate throw streets projected in front of them, and the buildings along the streets are giant letters. Although Walsh’s piece Artefact H10515 does not involve that high level of physical movement and it doesn’t have a immersive giant screen, the idea of interactive between physical movement and computer reaction are similar, and the physical existence of the three dimensional cube gives more veritable than the plat screen projection. Its interaction is beyond direct physical immediate reactions, but moves to between online and physical interactions which adapts to the contemporary popular participatory media culture.
Artificial life and intelligence have been an area of long time interests for scientists and science fictions. Along with the development of new media arts and digital technologies, artists joint the exploration and speculation on artificial life as well.
Many digital art installations are trying to simulate or inherent the characters of artificial life, and Artefact H10515 is definitely among them. It uses the software Thingalzer to produce various predictable behaviours in responses to the action of the visitors. The feasibility of the complex programming bring the liveness to this digital sculpture. The 3D image, the surrounding sounds, and the smooth animation of the movements, all of these elements combined together, blurring the boundary of real and virtual, the known and mystery.
Distinct from many other artworks and scientific research on artificial life, Walsh jumps out of the box of artificial human being or anything imitates human behaviours. He focus on non-human artificial creatures which challenges the recognition process of people whom trying to categorise unfamiliar stuff to things they know. He takes elements from familiar lifeforms, like the tentacles and snoring sound of Artefact H10515, and combine them into a inexistent creature. However, Walsh is never the first one to explore the artificial creatures use projections.
In 1994, Christa Sommerer and Laurent Mignonneau established an aesthetic installation called A-Volve. It is one of the earliest real time interactive artwork which visitors creates their own three dimensional creatures with a touch screen computer and interact with them in a pool. These creatures behaves like animals which swims, flights and plays with each other. Many works of Sommerer & Migononeau involves direct interaction and communication between the artificial creature and physical human body. Although the creatures in A-Volve are three dimensional, the technology at that time restrict the resolution and quality of the creatures. They looks like geometric figure rather than real living creature.
The recent works of Sommerer and Mignonneau have more vividness with advanced image-creation softwares. For example, Life Writer in 2006 which represents their exploration on adapt familiar daily objects with interactive computer-generated creatures. Establish on a antiquate style typewriter, the overhead projector use the paper scroll as the screen, and when visitors types the keys, the computer program transform letters on the paper into small artificial lives moves according to the algorithms.
Database and Visualisation
Artefact H10515 is no only artificial creature lives in the museum, it also downloads collections from the museum database and “digest” the collections according to its own order. In other words, it is a museum database in another form and curates these collections base on its own order.
Dynamic visualisation of datas is one of the popular theme in digital arts. Computer programs give the datas a visual form and the result changes according to the updates in the database. One of the famous earlier projection artwork in created by Camille Utterback and Romy Achituv called Text Rain in 1999. The installation invite participators actively interactive with the falling text which are dripping like raindrops but floats on people’s body. The text database generates the texts and the software control the movements of text. In comparison, Artefact H10515 collect pictures rather than texts, and it generates movements of the pictures instead of texts, but the idea of database collection and alternative distribute and interact with them are similar.
Walsh’s Previous Work
In years Craig Walsh has work with large-scale site-specific projection sculptures which challenge people’s understanding of everyday locations and practises. His installations set on storefronts, buildings, rivers and rocks. Alien forms is a popular theme among Australian contemporary artists, including Patricia Piccinini, Caroline Rothwell and Louise Hearman. Walsh also explores the possibility of alien life forms intrude with real physical environments.
Walsh’s piece Classification Pending is originally present on the Bremer River in Ipswich, Queensland in 2007 and now has been exhibit in several locations around the world. The work projects three-dimensional reptiles with turtle head, eel neck and catfish tail swims in the river. It questions people issues like genetic engineering, environment, real and virtual.
Incursion 37:20:15.71” N – 121:53:09.51” W (2008) featured in San Jose Biennale, California is one of his attempt. Massive succulent/tentacles appears on the glass wall of San Jose City Hall Rotunda which transform the City Hall into a huge petri dish of alien creature. Its leave to the audience to identify the meaning of the mutant plant.
Increasingly sophisticated image software frees digital artists like Craig Walsh to question the boundary between reality and virtual, the familiar and weird. His work including Artefact H10515 asks people to open their mind to the unknown, rethink about their recognition process of categorised locations and objects, though different ways of interact with museum and artworks, inspires new thinkings about the rest of the world.
- Artist’s Statement for Multimedia Art Asia Paciﬁc (MAAP) in Beijing, 20 October – 3 November 2002
- Carroli L. 2000, ʻIntroductionʼ, Insite: Craig Walsh, artistʼs monograph, IMA Publishing, Brisbane, p.6
- Museum of Contemporary Art, 2010, Digital Odyssey Education Kit, accessed 28 Sep 2011 <http://www.mca.com.au/general/Digital%20Odyssey%20Education%20Kit.pdf>
- Paul, C. 2008, Digital Art (revised and expanded edition), Thames &Hudson Ltd, London.
- Powerhouse Museum, 2009, Artefact H10515, accessed 28 September 2011 <http://artefact.powerhousemuseum.com/>
- Powerhouse Museum, 2009, Interview with Craig Walsh and Steve Thomasson, accessed 28 Sep 2011, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KzrTVkxw7zo&feature=player_embedded
- Powerhouse Museum, 2009, “How it works” Artefact H10515,accessed 28 Sep 2011, http://artefact.powerhousemuseum.com/how-it-works/
- Radok, S. 2008, ʻCraig Walsh: Transﬁgured nights, surprising daysʼ, Artlink, Vol 28, No.3.
- Sommerer C. and Mignonneau, L. 1994, Works: A-Volve, accessed 29 Sep 2011 <http://www.interface.ufg.ac.at/christa-laurent/WORKS/FRAMES/FrameSet.html>
- Sommerer, C. and Mignonneau, L. 1997. “Interacting with Artificial Life: A-Volve,” In: Complexity Journal. New York: Wiley, Vol. 2, No. 6, pp. 13-21.
- Sommerer, C. and Mignonneau, L. 2006. Works: Life Writer, accessed 29 Sep 2011 <http://www.interface.ufg.ac.at/christa-laurent/WORKS/CONCEPTS/LifeWriterConcept.html>
- Walsh, C. 2010, Craig Walsh, accessed 29 September 2011, <http://www.craigwalsh.net/>
Linda Carroli,ʻIntroductionʼ, Insite: Craig Walsh, artistʼs monograph, IMA Publishing, Brisbane, 2000, p.6
Artist’s Statement for Multimedia Art Asia Paciﬁc (MAAP) in Beijing, 20 October – 3 November 2002
 Powerhouse Museum, 2009, Interview with Craig Walsh and Steve Thomasson, accessed 28 Sep 2011, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KzrTVkxw7zo&feature=player_embedded
 Powerhouse Museum, 2009, “How it works” Artefact H10515,accessed 28 Sep 2011, http://artefact.powerhousemuseum.com/how-it-works/
 Christiane Paul, 2008, “Introduction”, Digital Art (revised and expanded edition), Thames &Hudson Ltd, London, p11
 Christiane Paul, 2008, Digital Art (revised and expanded edition), p110
 Christiane Paul, 2008, Digital Art (revised and expanded edition), p72
 Christiane Paul, 2008, “Introduction”, Digital Art (revised and expanded edition), p140
 Christa Sommerer and Larent Mignonneau, Works: A-Volve, accessed 29 Sep 2011 <http://www.interface.ufg.ac.at/christa-laurent/WORKS/FRAMES/FrameSet.html>
 Christa Sommerer and Larent Mignonneau, 1997. “Interacting with Artificial Life: A-Volve,” In: Complexity Journal. New York: Wiley, Vol. 2, No. 6, pp. 13-21.
 Christa Sommerer and Larent Mignonneau, Works: Life Writer, accessed 29 Sep 2011 <http://www.interface.ufg.ac.at/christa-laurent/WORKS/CONCEPTS/LifeWriterConcept.html>
 Christiane Paul, 2008, Digital Art (revised and expanded edition), p175
 Christiane Paul, 2008, Digital Art (revised and expanded edition), p191
 Museum of Contemporary Art, 2010, Digital Odyssey Education Kit, accessed 28 Sep 2011 <http://www.mca.com.au/general/Digital%20Odyssey%20Education%20Kit.pdf>
 Stephanie Radok, 2008, ʻCraig Walsh: Transﬁgured nights, surprising daysʼ, Artlink, Vol 28, No 3