Icelandic Rift by new media artist Sabrina Raaf
Cultural Chicago is a community site for the arts based in Chicago. The online journal offers the possibility for readers to contribute with local cultural news. Among other things, it advertises Chicago artists, exhibitions, art events and allows readers to create a local community by sharing similar interests through a forum, regular posts and bookmarks. I wish such a journal existed in Boston. Combining the sharing of local art events with informative interviews to a social network is kind of unique.
Reading and subscribing to the journal, I discovered the spectacular work of Sabrina Raaf on creative machines capable of generating unique and unpredictable manifestations of art.
In her interview by Cultural Chicago, Sabrina Raaf explains:
“Technology (software and hardware) is not only a means or set of tools. It does also necessitate a type of logic-based thinking in order to use it and subvert it creatively. You really have to be a person who is innately fascinated by new technologies in order to be able to suffer through the learning curves and endless upgrades. But, ultimately, new technologies offer an endless string of more and more powerful and flexible tools to make art with. Even beyond that, they offer a new language to speak to viewers with; there are nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc., that artists haven’t ever strung together before in the service of art. And, that’s something really exciting.”
Grower is a piece that responds to the carbon dioxide levels in the air generated by human breath. It draws individual blades of grass along a wall in varying heights in accordance to the amount of carbon dioxide present. As such it functions as a real time display on people attendance to the art space!
Dry Translator, a sculptural installation piece, is built in response to new trends in ‘smart architecture.’ Smart technology is being created for enhanced human interaction and control of one’s work and home environments. Interestingly what excites many is not the necessarily the enhancement of control, but really more the idea of intelligent responsiveness and heightened personal connection with the rooms they inhabit, dixit Sabrina Raaf.
In the journal I also enjoyed reading the interview of Colleen Plumb, Nature in Urban Spaces. The artist “examines nature in the urban environment, seeking to examine the relationship humans have with animals, how we coexist with the natural world, and the disappearance of it within the urban space.”
Being a video game addict at the same time than loving being lost in the countryside, I am always puzzled by criticism on a virtual reality that drives us from our physical reality. Reading this interview was refreshing and the following image by Colleen Plumb talks for itself. The overgrown tree squeezed within walls to provide a relief to humans, an experience of nature, recreated and artificial for the sake of us feeling/being connected to nature.
“We live in a time of games and virtual experiences which I find funny, sad, and, I guess, a reality. What effect could this be having on people? I guess representations are created due to a lack of the actual. We certainly can’t walk through a forest of bamboo trees in downtown Chicago. It seems that almost real will suffice most of the time. It must provide relief, these fabrications, otherwise they would not be so popular: The Rainforest Café. Well, the trees here are real—they are in a fake habitat, a lobby, and seem to be thriving. - Colleen Plumb”