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Working the Screen 2000

Works in progress: pt3 (P-Z)

Petterd, Pryor, Rackham, Roberts. Thomas, Tonkin, Velonaki, Walch, Zebington

Robin Petterd
Unsteady Motions

The visitor enters a dark space. An image of a tree being blown around in a storm appears. The visitor pauses to contemplate it. It freezes as they stop moving. They ponder the still image and the silence of the space in contrast to the turbulence of the storm. The image disappears. When the visitor moves the image erupts again.

The development of this piece has gone through many changes and explorations, different confirmations of images and sounds and responses to different types of movements. Constant technical compromises have had to be made between the image quality and the ability to process effects on the image in real time.

Robin Petterd’s recent web-based work has been included in events in Australia, Brazil, the USA and Spain. His move to installation work is relatively recent and is part of a research program at the Tasmanian School of Art, Hobart.

Completion November 2000

Sally Pryor
As I May Write

Sally Pryor, As I May Write Sally Pryor, As I May Write
An experimental and interactive artwork about writing systems and the human-computer interface, this project explores histories (eg earliest graphemes, “Picture Writing” etc), contemporary visual languages (eg Blissymbolics, logos etc), relevant theories (eg hypertext, semiotics etc) and possible applications of “intelligent” icons in an interactive media space.

I am trying to create a hybrid form which combines advantages of CD-ROM (a bandwidth enabling generous/good quality images/audio; the creation of an actual physical object) with the immediacy, connectivity and changeability of a website. The other challenge is that I make art in order to find out what I think/feel about something. So I can’t do detailed technical and artistic planning before starting. I have to program it, “look” at it, re-program it, in a spiral process that works for me but makes team work difficult.

Sally Pryor is an artist/programmer and independent multimedia developer with an eclectic background including biochemistry and 3D computer animation. Her most recent work was the internationally award-winning CD-ROM Postcard From Tunis.

Completion June 2001. New Media Arts Fund Fellowship, Australia Council. A small web component exists online: [expired]

Melinda Rackham

empyrean is a parallel universe, an online multi-user virtual reality environment, an arena beyond space and time—the void where all things are possible, the realm of the spirit, embracing the folds of the soul, a soft world of gaps and intervals, fluidly traced and transversed by in-tensions, relations, attractions and transitions between energetic avatars.

The challenges of the work are in 3 phases: firstly, to build an elegant vrml space of low bandwidth and crossplatform and plugin compatibility for internet delivery by September 2000. Secondly, to have a stable crossplatform multiuser space for web performances by June 2001, and thirdly, to eventually port the online world into a hard space immersive virtual reality environment in a museum by late 2001.

Melinda Rackham is an artist and writer who has been constructing imaginal and hypertextual in her domain since 1995. She is currently undertaking a PhD at COFA UNSW, has widely exhibited her web works and published theoretical and poetic texts both in Australia and internationally, and recently won the Faulding Award for Multimedia for Carrier. [email protected]

Collaborators: Horst Kiechle (additional modelling and scripting), Mitchell Whitelaw (sound).

The website will be available for viewing in September.

Lisa Roberts
Lillie’s Time Piece

A Victorian travelling clock opens to reveal a collection of memorabilia passed down by Lillian Williamson, frame maker and wife of painter Tom Roberts. Arranged within the 6 categories of meaning devised by Peter Roget for his Thesaurus, Lillian’s most treasured objects, her artwork, photographs and letters, are interlinked through a play on the written and spoken word through both scripted and randomly accessed voiceovers and text. Viewers are invited to read their own meaning into her memorabilia and pose questions about identity that might be expressed through the items we ourselves value and keep.

The technical challenges include keeping the hardware up to the demands of the data involved and optimising the script for seamless transitions and links between large files.

Tasmania-based Lisa Roberts, grand-daughter of Lillian Williamson and Tom Roberts, studied at the National Gallery Art School (later the VCA), Swinburne Film & TV School, and recently completed a Masters in Animation and Interactive Media at RMIT. Collaborators: Helen Rayment (curator), Ron Ngorka (composer), Ruth Luxford (programmer), Veronika Macnow (oral historian), Rosy Green (research assistant).

CD-ROM completion November 2000. Website under construction. Funded and sponsored by Gallery101, Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Macromedia, TechAustralia.

Roget’s Circular:
An Artist Book on CD-ROM

Peter Mark Roget wrote the Thesaurus, arranging words into Six Categories of Meaning so that the reader could bring order out of the chaos of thought and language. He saw that it was in their relationships to each other that words could approximate truth. A touch screen lies face-up in a suitcase, inviting viewers to participate in a dialogue between 2 travellers through 1999-2001, where Roget’s categories provide the framework for engaging with imagery, sound and text collected throughout their interconnecting journeys via email.

The challenge here was to design and program a navigable interface within which to interconnect the journeys of 2 travellers, as well as to involve the viewer in their own enquiry. An organising device developed at the turn of the last century is being appropriated and extended to incorporate the generation of random image, sound and text within a series of interconnecting calendars. Collaborators: Melissa Smith (visual artist/composer), Ruth Luxford (programmer).

Completion November 2000. Macromedia, TechAustralia.

Kristian Thomas
Pseudo sound project

Melinda Rackham, empyrean Melinda Rackham, empyrean
Pseudo sound project: you hear only what you want to hear is about sitting back and listening to weird techno-music, a focus very different from the typical nightclub scene. It will engage the eyes as well as the ears, as sounds are developed by interactive and/or graphic means, with hypnotic displays (sometimes called “eye candy”). The challenge is to program music into a computer, to make video, and make both simultaneously (not to mention faster).

When Kristian Thomas was 7, he ‘ganked’ his older brother’s “good at the time” Casio keyboard, and would place heavy objects on the keys to warm it up for a while. Today, studying at the School of Art, University of South Australia, he uses digital equipment that can be given its own consciousness, so it can warm itself up. Collaborators: I Candy is a group of mainly sound artists performing together in Adelaide, including Greg Peterkin (eyespine), Echelon, Dan freak, Trip Wire, Cooper Black and Free the Radical. [email protected]

The work was given a first hearing June 23. Online Mp3 and Mpeg works available at [expired]

John Tonkin
Prototype for a Universal Ideology

“Tell me a theory on life. It could be grand or mundane, advice your parents told you or a heart-felt belief.”

The spoken voice of each user becomes the raw material for a process analogous to the genetic recombination of DNA. The audio waveforms are broken down into fragments and rearranged with the phrases of other users. Users can breed different statements and decide which new recombinant statements survive, and consequently how they develop collaboratively over time to form a gene pool of ideas and memory.

John Tonkin is a Sydney-based artist who began programming and making computer animation in 1985. His current works involve building frameworks/tools/toys in which the artwork is formed through the accumulated interactions of its users. In 1999 Tonkin received a fellowship from the Australia Council’s New Media Arts Fund. He is currently working on Strange Weather: a grand unified theory, a visualisation tool for making sense of life.

Prototype for a Universal Ideology is being developed as part of Cyber Cultures’ Sustained Release: Infectious Agents, Casula Powerhouse (see interview with Kathy Cleland).

Mari Velonaki
Mutual Exchange

Mari Velonaki, Mutual Exchange Mari Velonaki, Mutual Exchange
Viewers wearing coloured cotton gloves engage with projected characters by signalling to them. The reactions, moods and life span of the characters are effected by the participants’ gestures, distance from the screen and the colour of both their clothing and the gloves of choice.

The integration of genetic algorithms and a robotic optical recognition system is the challenge, one amplified by the necessity of translating UNIX-based software and hardware into a Macintosh environment.

Mari Velonaki is a media artist with a performance background. She aims to engage spectators with digital characters in interplays activated by sensory triggered interfaces (breath activated, speech recognition, artificial vision systems). Her work has been shown at Artspace, PICA, Sciencentre of Queensland, IMA, Kunsthalle Prisma, Ton and Bild Spectakel. Collaborators: Gary Zebington (graphics & programming), Shannon O’Neill (sound design).

Completion December 2000. New Media Arts Fund, Australia Council; Newton Research Labs, USA.

Martin Walch
Mt Lyell Copper Mine

Martin Walch, Mt Lyell Copper Mine Martin Walch, Mt Lyell Copper Mine
This animation explores the visual and aural spaces both above and below ground at the Mt Lyell Copper Mine in Tasmania, combining topographical modelling, historical and contemporary photography, and recorded sounds from the site.

Immensely challenging, the project has given me the opportunity to extend my arts practice from a static photographic basis to a visually and sonically animated one. At the same time, working with a mining company during a volatile period in its history has presented another set of challenges that have influenced my work.

Martin Walch is a visual artist and writer, living and working in Tasmania. His formal studies include an Honors Degree in Photography and a Master of Fine Arts Degree (by Research) in Digital Stereoscopic Imaging. He is particularly interested in the interactions between people and the physical environments they work/live and recreate in.

Completion November 2000. New Media Arts Fund, Australia Council; extensive in kind support from Copper Mines of Tasmania.

Gary Zebington

Gary Zebington, Bodyssey Gary Zebington, Bodyssey
This work chronicles modified phases of the human life cycle. Biotic engineering and older myths of transformation promise freedom from the ancestral, deterministic life cycle. Borrowing form and process from tales of real and invented species, we wander a continuum of bodily experience, through conception to reincarnate uploads into dataspace.

Challenges include: intertwining sound, speech recognition, text-to-speech, vrml, responsive texts and 2D image environments into parallel coherence (eased by the life cycle’s natural narrative); transmuting image matter via inscriptions and conjurations; casting aside notions that form follows function and that sufficiently advanced technologies and magic are indistinguishable.

Gary Zebington converted from painting to digital media in 1990. Graphics and programming have featured in large-scale robotic performances, fibre-optic television, websites, CD-ROMs and international installations. He holds BA, IBM Broadband Scholarship, postgrad Design Computing and has been engaged in the design and development of experimental medical software at Sydney University since 1997. He rarely encounters steering committees. Collaborators: Gary Zebington (graphics, programming, text), Andrew Garton (sound designer), Gina Fenton (producer), Philipa Veitch (researcher).

Completion October 2000. Australian Film Commission.

RealTime issue #38 Aug-Sept 2000 pg. 9,12,13

© RealTime ; for permission to reproduce apply to [email protected]

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