"Random Access Black Box" _ Da Vinci Idea 2011

, ,

Technology is pervasive in our society and infiltrates every corner of daily life. It is upgraded and enhanced daily, changing the horizon of our perception, aspects of our experience, and revolutionizing society’s physical and spiritual base. It has also brought revolutionary change to artistic creation systems, art’s role, function, and status, seen in photography and movies emerging in the 19th century, the TV and computer in the 20th century, and the Internet, mobile communication, and wireless networks. All these changes are accelerating.
Random Access Black Box, 2011 Da Vinci Idea Exhibition, succeeding the 2010 exhibition, The Return of Techné, explores easing the tension of distorted relations between art and technology, how to interweave artistic imagination and technological reality in the original sense of Techné, which means no distinction between the category of art and masterful dexterity and technology required in daily life. Futhermore, it presents the possibilities of an expansion as a practical dimension such as combination of technology, art and life, the convergence of them with business.
While The Return of Techné comprised diverse experiments in various mediums, from simple to cutting-edge technologies, Random Access Black Box has many installations with interactions between technology and users, works and viewers, media, space and the body, and also sound and lighting artworks enabling viewers to experience synesthetic stimulation.
Interesting experiments on display are based on precise composition and design enabled by new technologies inducing a variety of acceptance patterns of users. Paradoxically, advanced engineering technologies including digital programs used for the design of work are just black boxes users cannot interpret: Nobert Bolz (1953~ ), a German philosopher and media theorist refers to all technical mediums, which we everyday but do not understand, and the principles of their operations, as a black box.
Works on show stimulate perception and sensibilities and involve viewers in technology and design, exploring the form and fusion of mediums and user interfaces. Users can have intuitive commune with works without special knowledge of technology. They can become "random" producers who complete content and meaning through aggressive intervention without any special knowledge on engineering.
These works extend the realm of art through close combination with new media technology, internalizing modes of artistic production through mutual interactivity. Random Access Music(1963), a classic work by Nam June Paik (1932-2006), forerunner of media art, is a good example. In this work viewers join a process of generating sound by selecting a specific part of a cassette tape that is possible with a mp3 player today. Random access here connotes a way of existence common to all works in the Da Vinci Idea Exhibition.
As Paik conducted experiments through amalgamation of universal media and technology reflecting aspects of the times, Da Vinci Idea artists realize experience in reality with their imagination. A "bricolage" of technology and media, existence and imagination, cultural and artistic sensibility, and aesthetic values, wil lwork as a strategy enabling users to experience unfamiliar scenes through new perception and technological communion.

Kim Byung-kyu’s Laser Mood Board for laser as main medium represents an interaction between a laser’s rhythmical movement and space through its dynamic sensibility. This work offers perceptual experience of a situation created through interaction between rays of light and space, emphasizing a physicality made by the strong visual effect of a laser flickering and producing texts. The texts seem to offer specific information, in public context, but meaning is ambiguous within arrangements of fragmented words. The texts and the medium seem heterogeneous. This work made of adjectives excerpted from the Wikipedia definition of laser, such as ‘optical’, ‘stimulated’, ‘emitted’, and ‘diffraction-limited’ shows a structure in which a medium intermediates text, and text is reduced to a medium by using text defining the conveying medium. In this cyclical structure, the hybridism between a cognitive, aesthetic stimulus of the physicality of laser as sensuous object, and reading and interpreting the text as an epistemological object, resonates states in other aspects.

Bae Seong-hun’s Catch Light is similar to Mood Board for Laser as it conveys messages by adopting light and technologies, but brings about different emotion and experience. As its title indicates, this work demonstrates a lyric approach to technical equipment briefly capturing light. The core of this work featuring the afterimage of light and image extends the stay of light using luminescence material. This work captures the temporality of light from its creation to extinction, vividly appearing but gradually disappearing, leaving a poetic resonance.

At the exhibition are also works reinterpreting tradition with a modern flare in a continuation of, not severance from, the past, despite new technological mediums. HYBE’s Light Tree: Interactive Dan Flavin re-illuminates the minimalist fluorescent light tubes of Dan Flavin(1933-1996) from the 1960s, through digital technology. Experimenting with light and its effect, Flavin explored artistic meaning in relationships between light, situation, and environment. The readymade fluorescent light fixtures he used created space divided and adjusted by light and composition, offering a newly structured space with light. HYBE’s work expands the logic of Flavin by reinforcing the physical property of light through interactive media. It presents an escape from traditional lighting, as light and color changes when touched by viewers. Lighting here is divided into front and back, and colors are programmed to maintain complementary colors. The front lighting constantly interacts with colors on a back wall through visual contrast and mixture. A random change and diffusion of light with the involvement of viewers provokes tension extending and segmenting space, turning space into a forum for emotional perceptual experience.

Sound media expanding sound through a new interface and modifying it fill the Da Vinci Idea exhibition together with lighting artworks. Park Earl’s Mr. Kongdak offers sensuous perception of invisible entities by spreading sounds and vibrations of heart beats through speakers and woofers. A viewer becomes a producer and listener of their own sounds by hearing heartbeats through a robot with a built-in microphone. The sounds and vibrations from the body return to the body, through sound waves moving through air and sensory organs. The dynamic and pitch of heart beats from the viewer’s body through the robot is sound art without artificial sounds. This work enables viewers to commune with others by expanding private sounds and vibrations to a public space, and newly perceive life and existence through hearing and touch.


Sound can also create community despite its weaknesses and incompletenesses. Han Hee and Kim Kun-ho’s Voice Cello reveals a solidarity of sounds through a familiar sound medium, and an analytical approach to the generation and change of sound. This work adapts human songs to sounds of instruments and generates indigenous tones in instruments by using the pitch and dynamic of a human voice to convey equivalent vibrations through a Bluetooth transmitter-receiver. The interface offers perception of the memory and experience of sounds in diverse sound language.


Also using sound as his work’s significant element, Yeo Jin-wook’s Bio-Sonar overturns the general use of media by converting an output device like a speaker to an input unit, thereby presenting an unexpected quality. When a viewer approaches the work, expecting to hear certain sounds, the speaker generates sound and moves back and forth via the reaction of a sensor. The viewer feels unfamiliar when the speaker shows an unexpected response to his movement. If fully grasping the system, he willingly becomes an element actively operating the work.


Choi In-kyung’s [Blow:] is an attempt to breaking down the frame of familiar perception through media’s operating methods. This work transforms a microphone linked to loudspeakers to an interface reacting to the vibration of breath. As breath is of life, particles in a digital space gain vitality with a viewers’breath. This work weakens our rejection of cold machines through an emotional interface and delicate technology.

A relational situation of interaction between artworks and viewers shows various contexts when viewers are involved in "open works", such as Cross Design Lab’s Stream, Octamin’s Last Night on Earth, and Tacit Group’s Face Puzzle.


CrossDesign Lab’s Stream, composed of 800 acryl pixels, reflects a viewer like a mirror. A camera and sensor built in the center perceive an observer’s movement and silhouette, so the pixels give form to the observer in a real-time basis. The pixels are embodied into an object, replacing two-dimensional illusion with tactility. Despite the digital system perceiving the viewer, the interactive image stimulates analog emotion, exquisitely combined with a shadow dependant on lighting and visual angles, pixel texture, physical movement, and fricative sound.

Tacit Group’s Face Puzzle mainly engaging in audio-visual work is an interactive piece in the form of game. It shows two gamers putting puzzles together (4x4 tile puzzle) while seeing each other’s face, demonstrating a process of making variations of sound alongside images. The participants work as protagonists of the game, and random visual and sonic results are modified by different arrangements and combinations. The artist produced the draft of the game: Tacit Group only design the basic algorithm and propose the system. Those who generate the random incidents through involvement are the viewers as consumers and producers making images and sounds.

Octamin’s Last Night on Earth is a visual representation of "openness" allowing active viewer participation in completing the work. Appropriating a kaleidoscope’s visual structure, this work is a fantastic scene with mirrors on the four walls of a cube, and surreal, programmed interactive images responding to viewer silhouettes and movement. Viewers here are determinant mediators producing variable images. The images infinitely proliferate when reflected on mirrors, adding irregular attributes and contingency. This work also reinforces aesthetic fantasies, blurring the boundary between imagination and reality, exquisitely blending the real viewers placed in the inside of the kaleidoscope, the viewers reproduced through mirrors, and an illusory space in mirrored space.
_ Jung ah Lee(Art History)