absolute value of noise
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.. devolve into ..
A collaborative network radio and installation piece
curated/produced by Absolute Value of Noise 2000 - 2002.

Devolve was a framework for connecting various streams (webcam images and sound) from different artists within an unique systems-based virtual space. Part generative, part game, it was a series of network art pieces that I curated starting with Devolve I (2000), Devolve II (2002), and ending with Reverie: noise city (2005). Scrambled Bites (2003/2004) sort of fits in there somewhere as well, except that it was a system for streaming "data" rather then image and sound. All of these pieces were produced at the Western Front (where I was curating at the time) and were also supported (and in the case of Devolve, they were commissioned) by Kunstradio.

.. devolve into .. (2000) was created in collaboration with Shawn Chappelle, Joelle Ciona, and Lori Weidenhammer. It was imagined as a collection of rooms, each containing an animation and sountrack that were scripted by the artists. Each room had four doors that you could use to move from one room to the next, and as you moved the rooms would change position so that you could never find your way back to where you started. You can view the original piece here.

.. devole into II .. (2002) was imagined as a virtual performance space where the artists could stream from webcams and send their images and sounds into a machine that would record the performances and then recombine them into art pieces that could play on the radio, or exist in a gallery, or be re-performed in a concert hall. The piece travelled from Vancouver to Vienna and Karlsruhe from January 17th to April 21st, 2002. You can view the original online version of the piece here.

Cadillac Desert (2001) was a piece that I made for Devolve. It features animations of various rooms in my house. The viewer moves around within the animations and comes across sounds and images from remote web-streams - pieces of "other places" that become part of the virtual house. Within the walls, windows, and other spaces of the structure there are places where the outside world enters. The viewer is able to see the difference between the on-site environment and the remote content, but is ultimately unable to tell the different between what is real (or real-time) and what is a copy (or document).

The title of the piece, "Cadillac Desert," is taken from a book that is refered to by Howard V. Hendrix in a story called "The Music of What Happens." In the book within a book, the protagonist is a park superintendent who wants to photograph Yosemite park in minute detail, publish the photographs all over the United States, and then (with the beauty duly recorded/documented) build a dam and flood the valley for a massive irrigation project. In Hendrix's version, a billionare buys Yosemite park and hires a leading media artist of the day to record it all using virtual reality technology. Once recorded, the park will be destroyed for commercial gain. The artwork loosely refers to this idea that Man's sense of responsibility for the physical world starts to falter once the real-world has been copied into the virtual domain. If I can visit Yosemite by stepping through a closet door in my house, do I then need to worry about the real place ..

Here are some gritty video frame grabs from the Devole 2 installation in 2002.



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