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Intimate Transactions (detail) Intimate Transactions (detail)
In 2004 RealTime interviewed Brisbane based media artist Keith Armstrong about his work, particularly Intimate Transactions, as it was being carefully developed and tested with his Transmute Collective collaborators over several years (RT59). The finished work has been acclaimed overseas and is now touring Australia.

Transmute describe the work as a “new form of interactive installation that allows two people in separate spaces to interact simultaneously using their bodies. Each participant uses a physical interface called a Bodyshelf. By gently moving their bodies on this smart furniture they instigate intimate transactions, which influence an evolving world created from digital imagery, multichannel sound and tactile feedback. This shared experience allows each participant to gradually develop a form of sensory intimacy with the other, despite the fact that they are geographically separated and cannot physically see or hear each other...Participants may choose to act in different ways as they begin to understand how their actions affect everything within the environment and the other participant. Hence the work focuses participants upon understanding influences and relationships within the work’s ecologies.”

In the RealTime review of Intimate Transactions, an admiring Greg Hooper commented that the work “continues Armstrong’s development of ecosophical praxis, used here as a pragmatic philosophical take on new media production that chucks out the techno-fetish and puts in a fusion of ecological theory and ethics. New media as experience design rather than commodity production. The pragmatic upshot of Armstrong’s ethical position is the development of work that requires prototyping, interviews with people about their experience of the work, and further prototyping. Perhaps that is the contribution of new media: the introduction of user testing in the arts” (RT 67, p26).

Since then Intimate Transactions has been awarded an Honourable Mention at the 2005 Ars Electronica in the Prix Arts Competition (Sept 2005) and has been shown at London’s ICA in collaboration with BIOS in Athens (Nov 12-13, 2005). It will soon show in Sydney at Performance Space and Artspace before appearing in the Brisbane Festival and Kickarts/COCA in Cairns in July.

Next up, and true to the expanding ethos of multiplatforming, the work morphs into Intimate Transactions: Art, Interaction and Exhibition within Distributed Network Environments, a publication that Armstrong describes as “a hybrid, lying somewhere between an exhibition catalogue and a book/ monograph...approximately 100 pages long [with] a collection of approximately 8-10 written texts of various lengths, 16 pages of colour images, and an interactive DVD.” The publication will document a fascinating interdisciplinary and collaborative creation, one to immerse yourself in as it moves about the country building an ecology of intuitive and sensory empathies. RT


Transmute Collective, Intimate Transactions; Artspace, Performance Space, Sydney, May 19-27

RealTime issue #72 April-May 2006 pg. 25

© RealTime ; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

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