Augmented Sculpture, Augmented Space

After our discussion of interactive installation art on Wednesday, I went back to the Real Virtuality exhibit at the Museum of the Moving Image in an attempt to clarify my experience of such works of art. And although my outburst in class was lacking a certain coherence and substance, the second visit clarified the feelings of frustration about the works themselves. I found many of the pieces* lacking in their ability to overcome the initial theoretical impressiveness and actually translate it to an affective experience.

However, one piece did stand out to me – the Augmented Sculpture v3.0 by Pablo Valbuena. Valbuena has created a geometric sculpture that blends into the wall behind it completely. He then projects light over it that causes the shapes of the construction to emerge, morph and disappear in various ways. Here is a video:

In this piece, light projected on a wall transforms the space but is not restricted by the typical rules for such an experience (the cinema). Valbuena has reimagined the possibilities of motion and interaction. He has removed the need for a frame and embedded the motion directly into the walls of the space. The museum visitor is able to walk around the piece as it appears and disappears before their eyes.

In an interview Valbuena discusses the technologies he used to create the piece.

“The installation is very low-tech in a way, which is something I really like about it. The most high tech device used is a projector, and in the actual technological race projection technology seems to be pretty old, it is something everyone is used to see.” (via)

Part of Augmented Sculpture’s success, I think, lies in its simplicity. A lot of  interactive video art these days seems to rely on the impressiveness of cutting-edge technologies. These pieces seem foster a certain techy-elitism that renders many works inaccessible to the run-of-the mill viewer who can’t quite grasp the sophisticated programming (or whatnot) that may go in to the creation of the work. But Valbuena’s work rejects that, resulting in a sophisticated theoretical, visually appealing, user-friendly (so to speak) and engaging work of art that does manage to reconfigure space and motion without relying on the archaic restriction of the movies.

If you want more: here is one more video of another version of Augmented Sculture. This one is accompanied by a sound element that adds a certain drama and enormousness to the whole ordeal.

*Most of them fit into the quintessential format for such a work of art as we discussed in class – their content either based on the motion of the visitor, an interactive joystick, or a representation of space inherently based taylor-made for the museum itself, but all restricted to a rectangular on-screen experience.


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