... but I stopped. Now I'm a dad, and may blog again...

Saturday, May 14, 2011

294: The Data Dimension @FuturEverything

The Data Dimension, part of Future Everything Manchester’s international arts, music and technology festival, is currently running at Four Piccadilly Place (until 22nd May, 12-8pm daily, free entry).  I absentmindedly stumbled in and was presented with two free vouchers for vodka cocktails.  I distributed some BLANKSPACE fliers got muled up and got all interactive and technical and arty.  The venue itself is a vacant, unadorned shell of an unused office or shop space.  Blank Media Collective used it last year as part of Blank Weekend’s arts trail Blank Market: Open All Hours.  It has a bear concrete floor patterned intriguingly with strange shaped outlined in faded coloured tape.  My friend and I speculated as to their meaning deciding they are probably nothing.

Two side-by-side pieces entitled A Duet of Blizzards and Hurricane Noel II by Nathalie Miebach first captured my attention.  Aesthetically they are a confusing sprawl of points, map pins and multicoloured thread, arranged sculpturally over complex handwritten modern musical scores reminiscent of Stockhausen.  Closer inspection reveals that the sculptural scores represent maps of meteorological phenomena at specific times and places.  They are interpreted by musicians and the resultant sounds are audible through headphones.  This couldn’t be more up my street; it’s visually complex, looks handmade, and has an exciting interactive element.  One of my new favourite sculptors.

A Duet of Blizzards, 2010, Nathalie Miebach
Hurricane Noel II, 2010, Nathalie Miebach

A darkened room contains two potted trees pushed close together.  They have a complex light pattern projected across them creating the appearance of points of light emanating from the leaves and stalks, and pixels of digital distortion spread across the back wall.  A small spot shines down on the surface of a pedestal and reacts to the movement of a hand through the beam.  Playing your fingers above the pedestal controls the patternation of light on the plants.  It reacts to the movement and direction of your hand and creates all sorts of mesmerising waves of light.  The piece is called Lit Tree by Kimchi and Chips (Me: I like kimchi; Artist stood nearby: I like chips). 

Lit Tree, Kimchi and Chips

My friend rightly observed that it was the best Christmas tree he had ever seen.  The invigilator he quipped this to reacted snobbishly and humourlessly by turning her back on him.  Get a grip; art should be fun and if you can’t take a semi-serious joke about it you need to rethink your attitude.  That aside Lit Tree is unbelievably beautiful, and could be admired for hours.  And it would be the best Christmas tree ever.

A small MDF box sits at head-height on the wall; a mechanical Hit Counter peers out of the box above the small eye of a movement sensor.  Every time a person stands before the piece or walks passed it the counter registers another hit.  The artist behind Hit Counter is Zack Gage, a talented designer of conceptual digital follies.  Check out his Vimeo account for some of them; his online portfolio for others.

Hit Counter, 2008-10, Zach Gage

There is a lot more quality work on show of varying styles; the three artists I mention here are just my personal favourites.  All in all this is one of the finest exhibitions I have seen in Manchester, and rivals the Transmediale I attended in Berlin (way back in 2006).  See it before it closes. 

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