Australian artists tap into the creative potential of high speed broadband

Published:  June 5, 2013
Australian artists tap into the creative potential of high speed broadband

Fast Internet is changing Australian society by connecting the nation’s scattered population – and it is also transforming Australian art.

Leading Australian media artists are exploring the limits of this new creative medium in The Portals, a public art exhibit which opens in Sydney and Darwin on 8 June for the 19th International Symposium on Electronic Art (ISEA2013). ISEA2013 will showcase the best media artworks and future-focused ideas from Australia and around the world from 7 to 16 June at venues across central and outer Sydney, and Darwin.

The five artworks in The Portals rely on the physics of high speed broadband to link two geographically distant sites in real time: public screens at Chatswood’s The Concourse in Sydney as well as Nan Giese Gallery and the Chan Contemporary Art Space in Darwin. The program is presented in partnership with Darwin Community Arts, Willoughby Council and Urban Screen Productions.

“High-speed networks are igniting incredible new opportunities for creative practitioners as they are rolled out across Australia,” says creative producer Ricardo Peach, who is curating the program.

Interactive experiences which involve audiences in co-creating the artworks are central to all five projects, which span live art, visual art, sound art, e-literature, interactive performance, augmented and virtual reality, and social media art.

In Metaverse Makeovers (LIVE), the artists are working with nail technicians to makeover members of the public with nail “appcessories” – wearable augmented-reality nail accessories that interact with a companion game app that connects Sydney and Darwin.

“As high speed broadband rolls out around the country, we hope to give it a virtual manicured hand in rethinking and redesigning networked experience, so that it supports greater intimate, immersive, and sensorial connections between participants from different physical locations,” explains artist Thea Baumann.


Network generated portrait of “Mark Zuckerberg” from Distributed Empire by Justin Clemens, Christopher Dodds and Adam Nash (VIC)

Is Starlight A wifi Signal? by Nancy Mauro-Flude (TAS), Nick Smithies (TAS), Crystal Thomas (NT) and Frontline Media (NT)

Metaverse Makeovers (LIVE) by Thea Baumann (VIC/Shanghai), Ben Ferns (VIC) and Shian Law (VIC)

Other artworks in The Portals include Shadow Net, which uses Microsoft’s Kinect technology to incorporate the shadows of passers-by in Chatswood and Darwin into a shared, virtual game space; Distributed Empire, a real-time sonic and visual portrait generator that recombines the faces of volunteers in various locations; Is Starlight A Wifi Signal? which encourages audiences in Sydney and Darwin to interact via their mobile devices with a networked performance that includes moving bodies, projections and text; and Enquire Within Upon Everybody, which is inviting audiences in both locations to tweet questions on any subject and see them answered live by the global data stream.

“The Portals opens up new possibilities for the use of the proliferating screens in our urban environment,” says Jonathan Parsons, Director of ISEA2013 “Together we will co-create, celebrate and experiment with the burgeoning artistic possibilities emerging in this country as it becomes increasingly connected through high-speed networks. This promises to transport, transfix, transform and translocate participants across this vast continent.”

The Portals runs from 8th to 16th June. It will be launched on the afternoon of 8th June at 3pm in Sydney and 2.30pm in Darwin.

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