Similiar to Tinguely’s «Méta-Matics», is „ADA“ an artwork with a soul. It acts itself. At Tinguely’s it is sufficient to be an unwearily struggling mechanical being. He took it wryly: the machine produces nothing but its industrial self-destruction. Whereas «ADA» by Karina Smigla-Bobinski, is a post-industrial „creature“, visitor animated, creatively acting artist-sculpture, self-forming artwork, resembling a molecular hybrid, such as a one from nano biotechnology. It developes the same rotating silicon-carbon-hybrids, midget tools, miniature machines able to generate simple structures. «ADA» is much larger, esthetical much complexer, an interactive art-making machine. Filled up with helium, floating freely in room, a transparent, membrane-like globe, spiked with charcoals that leave marks on the walls, ceilings and floors. Marks which «ADA» produces quite autonomously, although moved by a visitor. The globe obtains aura of liveliness and its black coal traces, the appearance of being a drawing . The globe put in action, fabricate a composition of lines and points, which remains incalculable in their intensity, expression, form however hard the visitor tries to control «ADA», to drive her, to domesticate her. Whatever he tries out, he would notice very soon, that «ADA» is an independent performer, studding the originally white walls with drawings and signs. More and more complicated fabric structure arise. It is a movement exprienced visually, which like a computer make an unforeseeable output after entering a command. Not in vain « ADA» reminds of Ada Lovelace, who in 19th century together with Charles Babbage developed the very first prototype of a computer. Babbage provided the preliminary computing machine, Lovelace the first software. A symbiosis of mathematics with the romantic legacy of her father Lord Byron emmerged there. Ada Lovelace intended to create a machine that would be able to create works of art, such as poetry, music, or pictures, like an artist does. «ADA» by Karina Smigla-Bobinski stands in this very tradition, as well as in the one of Vannevar Bush, who build a Memex Maschine (Memory Index) in 1930 („We wanted the memex to behave like the intricate web of trails carried by the cells of the brain“), or the Jacquard’s loom, that in order to weave flowers and leaves needed a punch card; or the „analytic machine“ of Babbage which extracted algorithmic paterns. «ADA» uprose in nowadays spirit of biotechnology. She is a vital performance-machine, and her paterns of lines and points, get more and more complexas the number of the audience playing-in encreases. Leaving traces which neither the artist nor visitors are able to decipher, not to mention «ADA» herself either. And still, ADA‘s work is unmistakable potentially humane, because the only available decoding method for these signs and drawings , is the association which our brain corresponds at the most when it sleeps: the truculent jazziness of our dreams or to put it in other words, when it configures itself.
The classical artistic process starts with the artist in a creative process which culminates in an artwork, where the creative process ends. After that, the piece of art remains in this status in a gallery or museum, and the public can participate here only in a passive way. So, everything that happens next happens only in the head of the viewer. We call it Kopf-Kino (mental cinema). However, the mechanism of this work opens the process of creation to the public. The artist leave the artwork in an open state and invite the visitors to become a creative part of the installation and to fulfill the artwork. In this ongoing creative process, the participant is equal to her as an artist.
Dance developments It was not Karina Smigla-Bobinski who developed the dance performance with ADA, but a dancer in Vancouver (Canada), who visited the exhibition and just started to dance by herself. After that, more and more dancers felt encouraged to try their own pas de deux’s. > see more
Music development It was also not the artist who got the idea to make music out of the ADA-sound, but a musician, who visited the exhibition in Munich. He discovered ADA’s acoustic quality and made us realize it.
ADA through the eyes of the beholder Since ADA touched the hands as well as the imagination of the people for the first time, many visitors sent wonderful images, thoughts, memories and associations evoked by their experiences. Some of them very personal, some fantastic, some objective, some philosophical … but all of them give ADA new facets and let ADA-cosmos grow. > see more
Once, the acclaimed Polish director Jerzy Grotowski was asked by a student doing a thesis on his work, he had spent five months following his rehearsals, in which every day Grotowski simply didn’t say anything, just looked and listened to his actors. Asked by the student how he did his directing, Grotowski replied, „Looking. I wait for the show to be done“. Obviously at some point he would act in a less passive way as a director, but what he intended with his five long months of observation exercise was to develop listening to his actors. An exercise of ample generosity, but also of a delicate intelligence, he intended passively not to cut, knowing that his observation fascinated by the expression of those bodies would give them the spontaneity of a genuine act. Not to interfere, not to direct, not to limit the actors to the banal act of his own conceptions. What Grotowski did was to open space with his observation.
There is something in ADA, by the German-Polish artist Karina Smigla-Bobinski, that produces listening, something that opens space for spontaneous bodies. ADA observes. The work, already acclaimed and presented in more than 45 countries, is currently in the Pop Air exhibition at La Grande Halle de La Villette. An inflatable globe floating in a white room, with 300 equally separated charcoal pins on its surface that scratch the walls, floor, ceiling and its own manipulators in black as it is moved. The work makes from the youngest to the oldest visitors interact with it in this changing space from white to black during the entire period it will be on exhibition. ADA brings to life in an animistic sense, a spirit-object, when left in its floating gravity, presents a space to its visitors that allows them to listen to their own bodies. They dance. The first image I saw as I approached the room, which through its slightly transparent walls allows us to see from the outside in, was a visitor dancing freely while ADA was on the other side of the room watching. Karina creates a work, just like Grotowski’s listening, that opens spaces for our souls through our bodies, through materiality that finds in a magical gravitational play, beyond physical, freedom from our so heavy rationalities. Through the synesthesia of these floating bodies from black paint to white, the work points out to us that we are alive as matter in this world and spiritually vibrating our emotions, marked, scratched by our displacements. With each stroke seen in this space we see movements of thousands of visitors, ADA is there to testify that in a world consumed by virtuality, we still have bodies, that we still dance in a physical world and that the show is made by us.
*Gustavo Gelmini is an artistic director of dance and cine-dance. Brazilian, living in Paris, he has directed several performances and films that deal with the relationship between the presence of the performer and the audience. He is currently taking his master’s degree in dance at the University Paris 8 about dance and vulnerability and has held residencies at Le Centquatre-Paris and Cité International des Arts.
Optical and haptic entanglements: sensory encounters in Karina Smigla Bobinski’s artworks
Interview by Ana Teresa Vicente
Touch is a fundamental part of human development and well-being. It’s one of the first senses that humans develop in the womb, approximately around the eighth week of gestation. Several studies point out its reference to cognitive and emotional development in children and its lasting impacts throughout our lives. This awareness that we are living in a crisis of touch has already been present for a while: records show that social touch was already excluded from our lives and in a deficit way before the pandemic hit. Given the current Corona epidemic, physical distancing became the norm, and touch was simply pushed away from public space.
This conversation with the artist Karina Smigla-Bobinski approaches, precisely, matters of touch. These territories are embedded in Smigla-Bobinski’s practice in artworks such as ADA, a floating sphere that throughout the interaction with an active audience inscribes her presence in the limits of the gallery walls, or Kaleidoscope, a touchable lightbox with free-flowing ink, that endlessly forms new shapes activated by human contact. On this subject of touch, her work is in the tradition of artists such as Trisha Brown, Rebecca Horn, Marina Abramovic, Lynn Hershman Leeson, or Stelarc. The intimate and interactive nature of her work is, thus, a springboard to explore how these feelings of reciprocity and connection arise in her work in such a participatory way.
Ana Teresa Vicente (ATV): Your practice has a reciprocal quality where the viewer’s body interacts with the pieces themselves. There’s an active exchange. How do you see the importance of touch and its many nuances in your work?
Karina: This interplay between body awareness and the digital technology in which we are embedded nowadays, is crucial. We are already so much into the virtual stuff so that all the technical devices seem to push us apart from our bodies.
ATV: It’s like a collaborative involvement with viewers or participants. They’re not viewers anymore, they’re active participants, right?
Karina: Exactly. So, they switch from viewer to collaborative participant. Why do I want visitors to be active? Simply because this is the best way in this day and age. First, I prefer discussion, not a monologue. Secondly, I want to make an impact, but I also want the participants to make an impact on me too. That was one of the reasons why I decided to balance it back, by involving the body in the process. More precisely, the body of the participants becomes an active interface generating the art experiences. The classical artistic process starts with the artist in a creative process which culminates in an artwork, where the creative process ends. After that, the piece of art remains in this status in a gallery or museum, and the public can participate here only in a passive way. So, everything that happens next happens only in the head of the viewer. We call it Kopf-Kino (mental cinema). However, the mechanism of my work opens the process of creation to the public. I leave the artwork in an open state and invite the visitors to become a creative part of my installation and to fulfill the artwork. We call that Open Source, right? So, in this ongoing creative process, the participant is equal to me as an artist.
It was not me who developed the dance performance with ADA, but a dancer in Vancouver (Canada), who visited the exhibition and just started to dance by herself. After that, more and more dancers felt encouraged to try their own pas de deux’s.
It was also not me who got the idea to make music out of the ADA-sound, but a musician, who visited the exhibition in Munich. He discovered ADA’s acoustic quality and made us realize it.
I am looking forward to seeing where the imagination of the collaborators will take us with ADA next. I love the fact my art doesn’t exist without the participants putting their hands on it. Michelangelo is supposed to have said that “to touch is to give life“, and this is exactly what happens here. It’s the people who bring the installations to life. And this is what makes this art form so vibrant. One could talk for hours and you never will know how it is to pet a wet dog, until you let your fingers slide into the fur and you smell it, right? ;-D
ATV: In a way, that is exactly how we experience the world: with our entire bodies and not just with our eyes.
Karina: Exactly. The lockdowns caused by Covid have greatly limited our body experience for so many of us. For me, it’s even worse because this is the way I communicate. Touch is often the key ability for interaction and so for the experience. It can be so much more than the tomb smear on the mobile glossy surface. Touch can happen with your entire body. However, right now I’m doing my quick artistic research on The Future Of Touch. It starts with a small comment just after the first lockdown in March 2020. At this time, ADA was exhibited at OMM Museum in Turkey. Shortly after Turkey got under lockdown too I found a nice comment on the internet which said: “ADA will teach us to touch and to socialize again“. This small comment turned out to be like a butterfly effect. I spoke about it in a live video with the OMM Museum on Instagram. An artist duo, Caitlind r.c. Brown & Wayne Garrett from Canada took this idea and made an interdisciplinary Zoom as artist’s discussions with keynote presentations by an artist (me), a scientist, and a philosopher who work in that field.
Inspired by that I decided to make my own quick artistic research about touch before, in, and after Covid-19, as an exchange of ideas but also as a time document. It’s an ongoing project where I want to spread my tentacles to other artists or philosophers, writers, brain scientists, dancers, and choreographers to see the subject from many perspectives, like in a cubistic manner. This is about getting a bigger idea of what exactly touch is to us.
ATV: Interactive art has been a prolific artistic territory, expressively placing human bodies in the centre of a series of relations and connections. Do you consider that the pandemic will influence the way you make art, namely by changing the relationship between the viewer/participant and the artwork, or between the participants themselves?
Karina: I think yes. I think my approach will be better understood and appreciated now. All the time before Covid I was talking about these relations and explaining why I choose to involve the body and touch into my work. So, this is something that I really like about it. This crisis lets us feel how it is to be reduced to… to get stuck in virtual worlds. It looks like this was needed to recognize how important the body experiences are to us, our life, even for the development of thoughts and so for understanding the world.
ATV: At first, I thought that the pandemic would really change our relationship with the world and propel us to take concrete actions in order to deal with the environmental crisis. And I thought that a meaningful change would totally be possible, that we would actually become aware of what we are doing to our planet. But nowadays, seeing things opening up and everyone going on with their lives just as normal as possible, I’m starting to doubt if that is going to actually be true; if we are going to take the necessary steps to change that. Either way, the fact that everyone’s so acutely aware of the position their body occupies in space and how much we need to connect with each other, is already a step forward.
Karina: In “On Revolution” Hannah Arendt warns against changes that can backfire if they are forced but not followed by realistic and better alternatives. However, this time we need to act quickly because time is running out. For now, the jury is still out but it doesn’t look good for us. Anyway, the fact that everyone is aware of their body in space and recognizes how much we need to connect in person with each other, is already a small step forward. That reminds me of an installation I developed back in 2012. The interaction here is converted into an enormous balloon equipped with gloves that look like inverse tentacles. The outputs generate lighting patterns on the balloon’s surface caused by different types of touches inside of the balloon.
People have to squeeze the space between them, in order to reach each other’s hands and to create the light effects. Nevertheless, I think when people will join my installations now, they will do all these actions more consciously. Perhaps this could be my contribution as an artist to support positive changes, by encouraging people to be aware and conscious of their bodies and their actions, and of the consequences these actions have? The good thing is that people recognize in such experimental art spaces that his or her one action matters and that it can produce wonderful outputs. Patti Smith sings about it in “People Have The Power”.
ATV: This song gives me goosebumps! Yes, to keep people aware and conscious… and to be present.
Karina: Right, present! When you touch, you are in the moment, in the here and now. You cannot touch and be in the past or in the future. And the “now” is the place where we produce new knowledge through experiences. I think experience through the body in the here and now, is something that we cannot jump out of and stay human. So, this is why we want, and need, to go into it again and again and again.
What I also really love is… I understand and agree with the regulations of social distancing, of wearing masks, all the stuff we have to do, in order to keep ourselves safe and to protect others. I am already fully vaccinated. However, there were a few situations, like the anti-abortion legislation in Poland or the death of Mr. Floyd in the US, where many considered the mental health of society to be more important at the moment. Demonstrations on the internet don’t work, so they went out on the streets and demonstrated by being present together. Wonderful!
ATV: The pandemic exposed other problems that exist in our society in such a blatant way. I’m really grateful that people are not fearful and do not stay home close behind doors just to protect themselves, and they still fight for their beliefs safely with masks and physical distancing, for example. I’m so grateful that people are not just fearful of others.
Karina: Exactly. At the beginning of the pandemic, I decided to read The Plague by Camus again. It was such a pleasure to read this book again. I have read it at school but at that time it was only a part of literature for me. However, an abstract story became real this time. It gave me comfort to read the brilliant descriptions of behaviour patterns… the fear, the superstition, the focus on numbers or panic buying, but also the courage of people, social commitment, and collaborations to support the others. I also discovered “Decameron”, by Giovanni Boccaccio. Every night I heard a chapter of the audiobook. Some of these stories are so funny, some are sweet, some horribly kitschy… I imagine that the comfort I felt listening to my grandmother’s fairytales is similar to the kind of comfort that the young storytellers in the novel expected on each of the nights they spent together. These are patterns that still exist. So, we humans haven’t changed a lot… sometimes I think we haven’t changed at all. ;-D
ATV: There is something in the way we relate that is fundamentally the same.
Karina: Yeah. After all these plagues, people just started to really enjoy life. So, I think this will happen soon too… for a while. 😉
ATV: Even before the pandemic, several strategies had been developed to bridge the gap of touch between people – such as the appearance of professional huggers, AI sex spot bots (which are mostly “enveloped” in female forms which is entirely another question), or the creation of simulacra or interfaces. I had given as an example, this device that resembles skin and that you have to squeeze and pinch. It’s a different way of interacting. Most of my examples portray unidirectional relationships. In some ways, this is an “asymmetrical reciprocity”, as Iris Marion Young puts it. Here, the word asymmetrical can be seen as a territory of active exchange, yes, but one where reciprocity is not always guaranteed: “opening up to the other person is always a gift; the trust to communicate cannot await the other person’s promise to reciprocate” (Young 1997, 352).If, as Giuliana Bruno states in her book “Surface: Matters of Aesthetics, Materiality, and Media” when we touch something we are touched back in return if there is immersion and reciprocity in the way humans relate to each other and the world, is there creation of a distinct connection when machines mediate this relationship? Is it possible to achieve an individualized but related, embodied relationship with machines? If this relationship or connection between humans and machines is not possible, what do you think is lacking in order to attain it?
Karina: ADA as an art machine does not need hardware or software… but we can say that the museum provides the hardware — the exhibition space — and I provide the software — the balloon with charcoals. The visitors are the users who give the commands.
However hard the visitor tries to control ADA, to drive her, to domesticate her, they notice very soon that she is an independent performer. ADA is constructed not to follow you 100% and can be gentle or not impressed at all or even rude. Once you set the balloon into motion it is pretty unpredictable, so you have to deal with it as a partner. Even though it’s obvious that this is a PVC balloon with willow charcoal on it, many people speak about “her” not “it”… even me.
I think the problem starts when the creators want to hide all the techniques to achieve an illusion of a human-like relationship with all those human-looking devices and human-acting AI. This is manipulation that withholds important information and robs you of control. Mostly a simple touch could expose them as such. However, if we do not educate our body perception with real inputs, we can quickly become confused and end up in a matrix-like reality. So, the problematic and unhealthy relation starts when the apparatus should let us feel they are conscious beings. You spoke about AI sex spot bots… I prefer asex surrogate than a sex doll. A toxic relation starts when the technology spies on us and when the AI creates a user profile, in order to predict and influence our behaviour.
A wonderful embodied relationship with technology begins by creating e.g. a prosthetic apparatus to replace missing body parts, to support our weak senses, or even replace them if needed. It is a perfect relation when a blind person gets an implant that lets them see again. It is also wonderful to get a bionic prosthesis you can control intuitively. The list is endless.
However, I also create art apparatus which provide an individualized and embodied relationship. But I won’t lie. I am more like a wizard, who totally openly shows how this magic works and how easily we can get confused by our senses.
The impressionists did the same thing almost 200 years ago. We are wizards, who openly show how light and optics work.
My work gets even further once the participants become wizards too. I always say: I dig the hole to the wonderland but jump into it, you need to do it by yourself. I make them realize how easily you can achieve this, but at the same time how difficult it is to fully understand what is going on. What is actually real and what is constructed by our body-mind relation. It’s not enough to pinch yourself to see if something is true.
Kant already reverses the relation between the world and humans: Not only do we orientate ourselves according to the world, but the world is shaped by the conditions of our senses and also by our thinking and cognition. When we recognise the world, we must always reflect on the fact that we imply something onto the things as well. Everything that surrounds us (objects/phenomena/passage of time) are things that do not simply exist in the world but appear as such in the world insofar as we co-structure this world through our senses and cognition. We are trapped in the black box of our body and have a few membranes through which we can see, hear, smell, taste… and touch. The exchange between the inside and outside happens through these few insufficient senses nature developed for us.
However, I think that the vision can be seen as a different kind of touch because when you learn about the evolution of the eye you know that the eye has been developed out of skin cells that have been specialized for light sensitivity.
When we look from this perspective we could think even further and so also hearing, smelling and tasting can also be seen as other different sensitivities of our biggest organ: the skin. Perhaps touch was not enough to survive, so nature had to develop further strategies of touch… something that could provide important information by indirect contact from a distance by smelling, hearing, or seeing. In German, we have the phrase “mit Augen abtasten” which means “to palpate something or somebody with the eyes”. In English, we say “it touched me” if something like a picture or a song makes you feel strong, like how you felt with Patti Smith’s song.
ATV: Mark Patterson in “Seeing With Hands Blindness Vision and Touch After Descartes”, describes an interesting situation: a patient’s first reaction after going through cataract surgery and thus recovering sight, was that the objects touched his eyes the same way his hands would perceive objects around him. His recovery was like nothing seen before, “a near-instantaneous collocation between tactile, auditory and visual sensations” (Patterson, p. 61). There was, however, across model transfer from touch to vision. The real world did not correlate with this idea after he was acclimatized to this new visual world in this and there was a disappointment in this: “it was the promise of correlating his tactile experience with his new visual abilities that most impressed him” (Patterson, p. 67). And I bring forward this idea of the relationship between touch and vision as ways of connecting with the world. If, in order to see, we need distance, in order to touch we must come closer (Barker, p. 27). Then there’s a connection between proximity and distance seeing and touching. Some of your artworks have this connection too, you need to come closer to interact with them but also some distance in order to see. How do you see this relationship unfolding, especially now that physical distancing is required? Will touch remain an integral part of your practice?
Karina: Yes and no. Under the lockdowns, touch became more a theoretical subject if we speak about my art because exhibitions were not taking place. But my art practice has become even more haptic. I tried to use this “free time” to put my hands-on work that had been waiting for too long to be done, like experimenting or creating new artworks in my studio but also writing down and illustrating my lectures on colour and composition to create a sort of a handbook for art students. For example, as a professional painter, you have to know about the theories of colour and composition.
However, the most important thing is to know how to express yourself. For this, you need to find your artistic language, your own colour palette. Therefore, you need to know what all the colours mean to you, what they feel like to you. And exactly for this purpose, I conceived exercises on what I call “subjective colour theory”. Synaesthesia is a crucial part of the procedure, where I break the visual sense and let them imagine being able to experience colours in a new way by hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching them. However, I don’t mean here to test yellow as a citric taste by that. Such superficial symbolic associations you have to overcome as an artist and dig deeper into yourself. It’s a scientific discovery on unconscious perceptions withdrawn from cultural influence.
ATV: We’ve been restricted to vision now because we were connecting just as we both are now, through flat screens. I feel that the sense of presence – that someone is present in the same room as you – is still very much lacking. Vision alone is not sufficient to establish a relationship with the world, right? it’s what we’ve been discussing so far. So, what other ways can we achieve or find to establish this active connection? I had seen these virtual reality meetings, they create this kind of illusion of presence and that, for me, brings forward these questions of mediation, and how technology can help us to feel the presence of other creatures, not only humans. How can we escape this “flattening” of our experience, for example, with this transition to online exhibitions where we see the artworks just as a flat representation on the screen? Some artworks do not translate very well to that medium. They may require that you really interact with the piece and that you experience it in a bigger space. So, documentation and this flattening of the experience does very little for rendering these works in a suitable way. So, there are two questions here, not only the illusion of presence that we may or may not be able to achieve with technology, but also how we can portray artworks in a better way and escape this flattening of our experience.
Karina: Yes, our communication with the world happens on so many layers. It happens in so many dimensions and I could imagine there are some we haven’t yet discovered. We just explore a mental map, a sort of a GPS, a comprehensive positioning system in our brain… or proprioception, also called kinaesthesia, the body ability which makes us able to move freely without consciously thinking about our environment. Super exciting discoveries!
When we just reduce our interaction into only two dimensions on the flat screen, how much less information do we get out of this? It’s like putting a river into a pipe.
But art can use it and can give a form to that “pipe“. I did it in my paintings and also in my interactive installations like WORMHOLE, SIMULACRA, ALIAS, or TÊTE-À-TÊTE. In ALIAS I use this “pipe” to implant an alien – the other – into you. It is not very nice but it’s salutary.
ATV: A bit like if they were Matrioshka shadows! We affect each other, even if from afar.
Karina: Yes, here standing in front of an illuminated wall one can see his/her own shadow filled with a person apparently watching him/her in return. The fact the participants meet the blueprints of their own filled out with a stranger is surprising but also disturbing. Exactly this makes the flat video-figure appear almost real. And so, the boundary between reality and illusion seems to blur for a moment.
In WORMHOLE, it becomes a communication tunnel throughout the earth. In TÊTE-À-TÊTE it transforms into a megaphone of your own dark site. In SIMULACRA this “pipe” turns into a spyhole.
However, it brings us opportunities too. Could you imagine how the situation under the lockdowns would be without the internet? It’s such a blessing to sit here in front of my laptop and talk to you… I still cannot really touch you… but we are “in touch” through sound and vision. A few days ago, I spoke with an art professor from New Hemisphere, who told me about his observations. He has to communicate now with the students through Zoom and this situation is terrible not only for him but also for most of the students. They terribly miss being together in a studio and discussing the matter relying on originals. But he discovered that some of the introverted students have overcome their shyness and are more easy-going now. So, there are people who really feel more comfortable getting in touch through this medium. Who knows, perhaps we will gain some knowledge out of this.
ATV: The pandemic also exposed the fact that we haven’t achieved in the development of our technology something that has this embodied experience through the digital medium. We already had holographic technology, for example, which kind of achieved what it promised in terms of “presence”. I don’t recall seeing that many artworks nowadays using that technology. So, there were some promises of having or feeling this “presence” of something or someone but then it never became true. Maybe this pandemic will push things into that territory?
Karina: Maybe. In my work SIMULACRA, I speak about the image of the body we create in our mind. How we perceive it and what happens when we transform it into a virtual one. The homunculus modelsshow in such an impressive way the ‘map’ of body areas in our brain and how out of these parts we create an image, a representation of our body.
In SIMULACRA on the white screen, you see through magnifying glasses also parts of a body, like hands appearing from the white space, then touching the surface and disappearing again into the white. Our brain makes sense of this by putting the puzzle together and producing an idea of a body swimming in a milky liquid. In reality these are light impulses going through the two small two holes (eyes) in front of your head and become a story of a swimming body in your brain.
Our brain is such a tricky wizard! It jumps between and mixes or even interchanges the real and the virtual worlds. We don’t feel that one is more important than the other one. In normal life, we don’t even recognize the difference between them… or do you feel the difference between, for example,the colour red and magenta? The body is our base, and an interface where everything meets together and consciousness arises.
ATV: That is not just rational.
Karina: Of course not.
ATV: There’s something else.
Karina: When the people interact for example with ADA, they cannot use the knowledge from previous experiences because this experience is totally new for them. At this moment, they just switch into intuition. This is one of the moments where your body leads you and you just follow. I think this is why the people feel relieved and mesmerized by that. This is such a wonderful experience to be one with your body, and to be in this moment in the here and now.
However, ADA seems to respond also to one of a very touchy human instinct. They seem to be driven by the same desire as the first human beings: the desire to leave a sign, as proof of one’s own existence.
A long time ago people left their marks in the form of negative prints of their hands on cave walls (e.g. La Castillo in Spain or Lascaux in France). It’s an incredibly intense experience to know that 40,800 years ago somebody put his or her hand on this exact spot on the wall. I feel really touched by that. For me, this is touch through time.
Similarly in ADA people left their marks in the form of lines on the walls, floor and scaling by touching and pushing the spiky balloon. These are coding memories of their body movements. If you scrutinize the drawing you can decode each line to comprehend what body behaviour had caused it. You can even go further and draw conclusions on the temperament or sometimes intention of the participant.
A dance performance at The Mattress Factory in Pittsburgh created a new coding technique of the movements and a new layer of memory by directly touching the walls. The dancers clapped their hands and feet on the scribbled walls and took a layer of coal dust away by that. These produced negative hand or food stamps, which remind me so much of the negative handprints from the Stone Age. Touch is an indigenous human capability.
ATV: This desire to leave a mark, to touch others, resonates with the Origin of Painting found in Pliny the Elder. When the origin of the representation is mentioned, in the episode concerning the drawing of the shadow of the lover who will be absent, highlights precisely the relationship between presence and absence, the symbolic character of the line and the marks, and the relationship between the passage of time and memory, through the representation of something that belongs to the past (Stoichita, 1999, p. 18). There’s not only the desire to touch but also to leave a mark. Together with that desire, the embodied relationship present in your works also speaks to this fundamental human trait: the desire to connect. In your work, both affecting as much as it is being affected by are mutually present. They constitute the sensory encounter each piece responds to and is reciprocated to, in an ever-evolving way. Although physically apart, our exchange through video chat over the course of this very particular year, brought to light the generative power of touch and its entanglements, both in the physical and virtual worlds.
Barker, J. M. (2009) The tactile eye. Touch and the Cinematic Experience. London: University of California Press. Young, M., Iris. (1997). Asymmetrical Reciprocity: On Moral Respect, Wonder, and Enlarged Thought. Constellations 3, no. 3. Oxford and Malden: Blackwell Publishers. Paterson, M. (2016). Seeing with the Hands: Blindness, Vision and Touch After Descartes. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. Stoichita, V. I. (1999). A Short History of the Shadow. (A.-M. Glasheen, Trad.). London: Reaktion Books.
*Ana Teresa Vicente is an artist and researcher based in Lisbon, Portugal. She holds a PhD in Fine Arts – Photography from the University of Lisbon, Faculty of Fine Arts, Centro de Investigação e Estudos em Belas Artes (CIEBA), with a fellowship by the Portuguese public agency Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT). Since 2005, she has presented her work through exhibitions, lectures, and publications. In 2020, she exhibited her work at Facing the Future | After Shot, Taipei Photo Festival, TW; SITUATIONS / The Right to Look, Fotomuseum Winterthur, CH; Selections from the Seagrave Museum, DAAP Gallery, USA; and Palimpsesto at Penafiel Museum, PT. In 2019, she co-curated with Professor Mónica Mendes the exhibition Timelessness at Ars Electronica Campus, and exhibited her work at the Athens Photo Festival, GR, and FORMAT19, UK. The previous year she exhibited at Binary/Non-binary, GESTE Paris, FR; Immersive | Imersivo, SNBA, PT; Failure is a Given, Archivo Studio, PT, and Face- Value at the Liverpool John Moores University, UK. She was a co-coordinator and researcher of the Post-Screen: International Festival of Art, New Media and Cybercultures (Lisbon). She received a Fundação Oriente Grant to pursue an AIR at Insitu, Hong Kong, 2020. Currently, she is a Professor at ESAD.CR (Caldas da Rainha, Portugal). > https://anateresavicente.webnode.com
After traveling the world, Karina Smigla-Bobinski’s ADA—a kinetic, fully-interactive art installation like no other—has temporarily come to life in Eskisehir.
On the second weekend of February, art lovers again flocked through the doors of Eskisehir’s Odunpazarı Modern Museum (OMM), as excited as they were for the museum’s opening last September. This time, they came for ADA, a kinetic sculpture comprised of a helium-filled balloon that leaves its mark on everything it touches with carbon spikes attached to its entire surface. This larger-than-life creation fills the walls of the entire room with sketches that add another dimension to this already complex concept. It’s been a decade since ADA was born in Munich. The artist Karina Smigla-Bobinski, told The Guide Istanbul that she did not anticipate the continuation of the project in its current form. “When I first made ADA, I never thought I would be making her over and over again,” Smigla-Bobinski says. “A year later, I received an invitation from Brazil to show her for the first time abroad, which was the real beginning of the international interest.” ADA, named after Ada Lovelace, the world’s first computer developer, has so far visited 30 countries and counting. ADA’s constructional simplicity (she’s assembled from scratch for every showing by the artist herself), her almost infinite number of possible interpretations, and her fully-interactive character have dazzled audiences all over the world. The dimensions of the balloon are decided according to the size of the space in which it is exhibited, leaving enough room for people to play and experiment. Throughout the showing, it is never cleaned or repaired, symbolically ending its life cycle when each presentation comes to an end.
“It’s incredible to be able to experience the reactions of people each time in a different way,” Smigla-Bobinski says of her exhibitions. “Some of them are more interested in the act of play itself; others only want to leave a mark.” The artist admits that the unpredictable nature of the work, which cannot be fully controlled, makes some viewers uncomfortable. “In the last decade, I have seen many people who were not nice to ADA,” she says. “When people interact with her, they can’t rely on their knowledge, but instead need to tap into their intuition, which is the point where outcomes begin to vary.” “On the one hand, they experience a child-like state, which makes many people very happy, because they begin to remind themselves of how to behave like this,” she adds. “On the other hand, you might tap into a dark part yourself, especially if you feel the need to be in control.”
As ADA’s incarnations travel the world, Smigla-Bobinski finds that, in most cases, people approach her art very cautiously at the beginning. “I never explain to people how my art works. Often they start by walking around, looking at it, and just nodding,” she says. “Once they notice that the object is moving, they begin to touch it, creating their own drawing—and at that point, everything goes crazy.” Nevertheless, she believes she is understood by most of those who interact with her work. “I’ve never had an exhibition where the audience would just stay back and watch,” she says.
“Work in progress” On several occasions throughout the installation’s opening evening, Smigla-Bobinski emphasizes the importance of the audience as the driving force behind her work. She only provides a framework for the experience, she explains, which it is up to the audience to fill in. “I always say that, when you make art, when you’re ready to give it to the world, it doesn’t belong to you anymore,” she asserts. This open-source approach has been embraced by artists of other disciplines as well, including dancers and musicians, who feel that, by interacting with ADA, the artistic message is somehow elevated. “It began when we were exhibiting ADA in Vancouver,” Smigla-Bobinski recalls. “I received an email from a ballerina, asking me for permission to share her images of dancing with ADA. When she visited the exhibition, she felt a connection to the piece and began to dance with it.” When the photos went viral, Smigla-Bobinski began receiving requests from other dancers as well. At her recent exhibition in the US city of Pittsburgh, as many as 12 performers danced with ADA. “I left that part completely to them,” she says. “I didn’t even know what they were going to do.”
ADA’s magic, it seems, has the power to inspire new ideas. According to the artist, people have continued to develop new ways of interacting with the floating work. “We started with an art installation, which evolved into dance performances,” she says. “Nine years later, I was approached by an artist who created music inspired by the sketching sounds of the balloon.” “As long as there are new ideas,” she adds, “this is still a work in progress.” ADA’s debut in Eskisehir was also accompanied by a dancer. When Smigla-Bobinski first saw Chinese performer Li Kehua dance, she hoped to arrange an artistic collaboration at the earliest opportunity. “Lico [Li Kehua] is an incredible dancer. We thought of collaborating on many occasions, but the timing was never right,” Smigla-Bobinski says, going on to point out that this was the first time she had made a personal request to an artist.
The strong connection between the two artists is clear when they begin finishing each other’s sentences while explaining the ideas behind the opening performance at the OMM. “Dance and drawing are my passions, and I love how they come together in my favorite color, white,” Kehua told The Guide Istanbul. “When you’re a dancer, you always have to strictly control your body,” she says. “What I like about ADA is that I can’t control her. I have no choice but to follow her—and this is what makes the difference in this experience.” Leaving the opening performance, I find Smigla-Bobinski surrounded by a group of young admirers who have come to see her work. “What I really like about Turkey,” the artist says later, “is that people approach you to simply share their thoughts.” As it has been in numerous other venues around the world, ADA has now been set up in Eskisehir, where she awaits curious locals to come fill her in with their own unique experiences.
Eskişehir’s Odunpazarı Modern Museum (OMM) hosts Karina Smigla-Bobinski’s “Ada,” an interactive kinetic sculpture and installation, welcoming the visitors to play with it. The opening of the exhibition and installation was presented with a performance by dancer Li Kehua.
The aim of the performance, which attracted many art lovers both from Istanbul and the Central Anatolian province of Eskişehir is to show how an artwork is able to get in relation with the audience around it.
“Everyone can touch, feel and play with this installation,” said Smigla Bobinski, noting that “Ada” is a huge, free-floating interactive drawing tool that unearths the hidden creative talents of machinery and is controlled by humans. “However, it is producing its own autonomous language in charcoal marks across the white walls, ceilings and floors of the gallery space,” she added.
The artist’s aim is to let the audience to perform with “Ada” to find their own way to deal with this artwork. “And what I also wanted to do is to let other artists, dancers, performers to find what they can do with Ada,” she said.
Once, a musician was interested in Ada and told me that Ada’s noise while it is moving is magnificent, so he recorded the noise.
Creating “Ada” was a process full of inspiration. Smigla-Bobinski was inspired by the first computer programmer in history, countess of Lovelace, Augusta Ada King. She was an English mathematician and writer and she is still known for her work on Charles Babbage’s proposed mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine.
“So, we can say she was the first computer programmer,” said Smigla-Bobinski, noting that she was a pioneer woman. So, the artist played with the name “Ada.” Smigla-Bobinkski said Lovelace was the first to recognize that the potential of computers lay beyond mere calculation
Underlining how important she was, Smigla Bobinski said Ada King set out to create a machine that could paint and write poetry. Similar to Ada Lovelace, the installation ADA extends the possibilities of automation into a realm of creative generation.
The secret and beauty of “Ada” is that it is both controllable and not at the same time. The visitor may control Ada’s trajectory but how it is going to move cannot be calculated in advance. So, it is a free and also controlled installation letting everyone work with it.
Smigla-Bobinski’s “Ada” idea also coincides really well with the OMM’s being and identity. The museum’s urge to gather people is in parallel with Ada. While “Ada” welcomes everyone to play with it, so does the museum with its architecture and audience engagement programs.
Ideas and art
Smigla-Bobinski developed Ada’s idea, gathering many different approaches from history, technology and art. “We artists do not think just one way or in a horizontal line. Ideas move inside our heads and we collect ideas and feelings, and once in a while they crossover.
That’s when I discovered the idea of creating Ada,” she said.
The installation is a part of advancing OMM’s mission to promote projects that combine art, design and technology. The installation will be in motion at the museum through April 12, marking its inaugural appearance in Turkey.
During an opening ceremony to launch the installation, dancer Li Kehua directed Ada’s initial movements in dialogue with her body, creating its first tracks in the museum.
The OMM, designed with a synthesis of traditional Ottoman and Japanese architecture, opened on Sept. 7, 2019 in Eskişehir’s Odunpazarı district, covering about a 4,500-meter-square area.
The museum was designed by the famous Japanese architectural firm Kengo Kuma and Associates. The architectural design of the building draws attention as it consists of a group of square-shaped blocks that are surrounded by laminated-timber beams stacked on top of each other.
Art Between Atoms & Bits.conference talk by Karina Smigla-Bobinski INTERFERENCES .KIKK international festival of digital and creative cultures
The 6th edition of KIKK Festival is back from 3 to 12 November 2016 to explore the phenomenon of interferences. Whether we are talking about sound or light interferences, a wave is always the propagation of a disturbance. In physics, the superposition of two waves of a similar frequency result in what we call an interference. We experience it everyday. On the surface of water, in the reflection of a soap bubble, in the crowd’s hubbub, and so on. This phenomenon makes perfect sense, if you think about it; we’re immersed in a fabric of waves where each intersection is an interference. You only have to think about our world as a whole or down to the smallest detail of its organization; our system undulates as much as it breathes. We cannot conceive a still world that would exist without this rhythmically organized motion of nature: the orbits of planets, the ebb and flow of the sea, the oscillations of electric current, the duality of the binary system, the evolution of species, etc. We could sum it up in one sentence; our world is vibrations. Effects resulted from the interaction of waves have been thoroughly observed and studied in the history of modern physics. Far from only being an interest for physicists, interferences have always fascinated artists. A playground particularly stimulating and subject to esthetic experimentation. Playing with perception and tricking the senses, they are using the nature of waves and their ability to cause interferences to create optical illusions, auditory confusion, they compose with the unexpected and its permanent renewal.
KARINA SMIGLA-BOBINSKI works as intermedia artist with analogue and digital media and move between science, intuition, expression and cognition. She produces and collaborates on projects ranging from kinetic sculptures, interactive installations, art interventions, featuring mixed reality objects, multimedia physical theatre performances and online projects. Karinas works bridge kinetic art, drawing, video, installation, painting, performance and sculpture, her works contain the method of their making, they are direct art, which foregrounds the material, movement through time and impact on results. Her works have been shown in 45 countries on 5 continents at festivals, galleries and museums.Karina will explain what her working methods and inspirations are in general, also how her works between bits and atoms, such as‚ ADA, SIIMULACRA or KALEIDOSCOPE have come to existence, as well as her search for adequate presentation methods.
KIKK festival is an international festival of digital and creative cultures. Its interest lies in the artistic and economic implications of new technologies. The event gathers people of all backgrounds from all around the world. They are designers, scientists, makers, entrepreneurs, artists, architects, developers or musicians. They come to KIKK to tell you their personal anecdotes, to share professional experiences and innovative ideas, to present an artwork, a project or a product. You return home full of inspiration with plenty of contacts and new passions. This year, through a program of conferences, exhibitions and workshops, KIKK Festival will analyze how art and science collide in contemporary culture with new waves of artists exploring the physical phenomenons of light, radio, acoustic, magnetic, water or matter waves interferences. Interfering also means to come into opposition. Numerous activists, critical designers are scrambling systems to denounce intrusive practices or policies, others condemn mass surveillance and question privacy issues. Design and economy are also concerned by the subject: a disruptive product, practice or market, can be first seen as an interference before being considered as a new model of disruptive innovation.
Photos by Kathy Datsky Text by Katrin Bettina Müller
Tanz Magazine is Europe’s biggest and most respected ballet and dance magazine, based in Berlin (Germany). In New Westminster (Vancouver, Canada) the dancer Jadie Hill, shot by photographer Kathy Datsky created an experimental performance with ADA and shoot this summer in the New Media Gallery exhibition POPart. They created the shoot with no thought of an audience – they were just two young women with very creative ideas about how they could interact with a work of contemporary art and document this process.
Karina Smigla-Bobinskis schwebende Skulptur ist ein Spielball des Tanzes. Benannt nach der Erfinderin der Programmiersprachen, Ada Lovelace, entfaltet sie als Gegenüber unberechenbare Energie. Verführerisch leicht, so sieht das Spiel aus, zu dem ADA einlädt. Mit den Fingerspitzen scheint es möglich, diesen mit Helium gefüllten Ballon zu bewegen. Wer nach den Kohlestiften greift, die wie Stacheln aus seiner transparenten Haut herausstehen, bekommt schwarze Hände. ADA leistet wenig Widerstand, schwebt hierhin, schwebt dorthin, hüpft hoch, senkt sich herab, ein sanfter Tanzpartner.
Dicht und komplex aber sind die Spuren, die das Spiel hinterlässt. Denn Widerstand leisten die Wände, der Boden, auf den der Ballon aufkommt und von dem er sich wieder abstößt, schließlich die Decke des Raums, in dem die Skulptur von Karina Smigla-Bobinski ihren Auftritt hat. Ein Punkt, den der Kohlestift hinterlässt, hier und dort zuerst, ein Kringel, eine Linie, manchmal ein von einem Besucher kraftvoll gesteuerter Kreis, dann wieder nur ein Wischer, der dem Lufthauch, dem Zufall geschuldet scheint: All das überlagert sich im Lauf der Zeit an Wänden, Decke und auf dem Boden und wird zu einem Protokoll der Bewegungen.
So machen der Raum und der Ballon, die Begrenzung und das frei Bewegliche zusammen diese Installation aus. Hinzu kommt die Zeit, die Dauer des Auftritts, mit der Smigla-Bobinskis Objekt eben auch zur Performance wird. Unkontrollierbar ist für jeden einzelnen Teilnehmer, was am Ende entsteht. Und doch ist die Zeichnung an der Wand auch kalkuliert, das bezeichnete Feld durch die Raumgrenzen vorgegeben. ADA hat auch etwas von einem Globus, einer Weltkugel. Und ist tatsächlich seit einigen Jahren weltweit unterwegs. In London, in São Paulo und Belo Horizonte, im Silicon Valley, in Moskau, Slowenien und Japan war die interaktive Installation zu sehen, oft mit großer Begeisterung berührt und beobachtet.
Eine «post-digital drawing machine» zu sein, gibt Karina Smigla-Bobinski ADA als Kennzeichnung mit. Ende der 1950er-Jahre entwickelte der Schweizer Künstler Jean Tinguely die bis heute bekanntesten Zeichenmaschinen. In seinen «Métamatic» warf man Geld ein wie in einen Automaten, ratternd sprang die Mechanik an und zeichnete vielarmig auf ein Blatt Papier, während am anderen Ende der Arme Scheiben und Segel aus Metall auf und nieder schwenkten. Deren spielerische, tänzerische Bewegung war der Clou, die Zeichnung, die man mitnehmen durfte, zweitrangig. Tinguely öffnete damit den Prozess der Kunstproduktion, lud zur Teilnahme ein, eine demokratische und befreiende Geste, die am Beginn einer langen Geschichte der Selbstreflexion der Künste stand.
Auch Choreografen haben schon Bewegungsprotokolle erzeugt, wie ADA sie hinterlässt. Für «Human Writes» ließ William Forsythe vor zehn Jahren Tänzer an Zeichentischen arbeiten, mit Kohlestiften an Händen, Füßen und anderen Gliedern. Sie beschäftigten sich mit den Buchstaben des Textes zur Erklärung der Menschenrechte, schrieben und zeichneten auf die Tische mit ganzem Körpereinsatz. So tritt ADA in einer Tradition der Berührung und Durchdringung von bildender Kunst und Performance auf.
An jedem Ausstellungsort beginnt ADA von vorn, in einem leeren, weißen Raum. Die Geschichte wird auf null gestellt, alles ist möglich. Auch den Atem anzuhalten und den Moment hinauszuzögern, wieder aufs Neue die Fäden des Lebens dicht zu verweben. Ein Augenblick von Erhabenheit.
How does a large inflatable ball embedded with oversized charcoal drawing sticks get included in a major exhibition titled “Robots and Avatars” ? What is more, why was this work one of the most popular artworks of all the technologically future-gazing works exhibited at FACT in Liverpool?
This work of all the robots and avatars, best tested our relationship to cybernetics. It is a contrast to works that stand in awe before technology, as many first generation media artworks of the nineties did, incorporating a modernism still celebrating technology.
Despite employing high technology, the significant practice of David Rokeby through the eighties and nineties took an early critical look at cybernetic systems and their relationship to people via surveillance. Foretelling serious concerns on privacy, data and technology. Yet many media works then and since have not moved beyond augmenting the experience with complex ‘interaction’ which if anything removes the experience further from the viewer. However ADA enacts an innate understanding of thought, cognition, mechanical action and effect. ADA asks us through play and tactility to engage directly in creating movement and mark making. Just like a hightech computer she is both art and instrument in one, and although she is a kind of a slave to our play, she escapes all voluntary action into unforeseeable movements. It is good art and like much of Smigla-Bobinskis art, performative and participatory.
ADA is a haptic drawing machine. A slave to our desire to move stuff about. Adept and accidental in making beautiful marks that might appear to have been produced by a computer. The origin of the term Robot, is derived from Slavic and Czech words denoting labour, serf-labour and slave.
This creature, ADA, amplifies our impulses and actions, it is a slave to our thoughts like many devices and tools, however this is an artwork intrinsically binding the audience, and in the process creates a spectacle for those observing the artwork being performed. When ADA is not played with, dormant, the audience focuses further on the marks, which over time become a continuous surface or pattern. With the mark-making ball absent and without video documentation present, the audience might struggle to work out how these marks were applied. By hand over a long time as an abstract fresco? Or by a computer assisted machine drawing algorithmically, across floor, ceiling and walls. And as with any “non-interactive” work, we, the audience, are left with our thoughts and ability to make our own meaning and draw our own conclusions. The cause of how the marks were made might seem irrelevant within the ontology and imagination of an artwork. But here the process, as in interaction between ADA and the visitor, the drawings on the walls and the ball itself merge into a transient state of art. It is an art-work in its most basic meaning: it is being worked on continually, from the creation of the ball to the last stages of ADAs life, when she rests used up by all inter-actors, surrounded by what they had produced together.
As John Dewey says in the Art of Experience, we know that without prior knowledge of art history or intellectual abstraction, art audiences can witness and be part of an artwork. As in everyday life we take meaning, where cognition and experience meet through direct interaction. Ontology here is this direct interaction, and the viewer, who is able to draw and be part of the production, becomes what we might call a pro-sumer (producer-consumer).
ADA is just one of Smigla-Bobinskis works which is perfectly well located in time based practice. Bridging kinetic art, drawing, installation, performance and sculpture, her works contain the method of their making, they are direct art, which foregrounds the material, movement through time and affect in mark making.
This is not to say that all artworks require a relationship with a third party to be complete, however, when a consumer is actually partially producing the artwork, through direct participation, completion is more avert. We see ADA in different states pumped up and buoyant – ready to bounce against clean walls – and tired, deflated after several weeks of ab-use from over enthusiastic kids. This image is as powerful as the work in motion. Kinetic and latent energy. And the beautiful drawing. The documentary photographs are explicit in showing the pleasure most of the audience found in the work, but maybe not all. Like clowns, for some this level of activity is obtrusive and crude, art might be viewed as a reflective mirror of inner quiet. But for an institution, it is gold dust, bringing together engagement, collaboration, participation and wonder, one that is social and democratic.
Prof. Mike Stubbsis the Director of FACT, the Foundation for Art and Creative Technology, the UK‘s leading organisation for the commissioning and presentation of film, video and new mediaart forms. Jointly appointed in May 2007 by John Moores Liverpool University he is Professor of Art, Media and Curating.Encompassing a broad range of arts and media practice his arts management, curating and advocacy has been internationally acknowledged, he is currently leading a newcapital development, Ropewalks Square forming a creative and digital hub for the city of Liverpool around FACT. In 2010 he chaired the International Academic Media ArtHistories Conference, Re-Wire. He is honorary Professor at Liverpool University and the University of Technology, Sydney.Mike established the ROOT, Burning Bush and AND festivals and commissioned and produced over moving-image based exhibition programs and artworks, including: WhiteNoise, Stanley Kubrick, Pixar for ACMI, Australian Centre for Moving Image and SkInterfaces, Pipilotti Rist and Hsieh Teching, as part of Liverpool’s European Capital ofCulture 2008, the Liverpool Bienalle and the FACT programme. He is currently co-curating short films for Channel 4’s Random Acts series.An award-winning and respected moving image artist in his own right, Mike Stubbs‘ work encompasses film, video, installation and performance. He has won more than adozen major international awards including first prizes at the Oberhausen and Locarno Film Festivals, and in 1999 was invited to present a video retrospective of his work atthe Tate Gallery, London. In 2002 he won a Banff Fleck Fellowship and had solo shows at the Baltic Art Centre, Newcastle and EAF, Adelaide.
Halfway through her painting course Karina Smigla-Bobinski gave up the two-dimensional media in order to experiment with light and video installations. From then on space has been her favourite place in which to realise her art. She recognises the great potential of an active audience and thus designs the places where she works into collective spaces for active and creative participants. She regards her art as a medium of communication. Her works are materialised events springing from her observations and thoughts in the border area between art, science and philosophy. Karina Smigla-Bobinski lives in Munich. Anyone who wants to contact her will be more likely to meet her at one of the many art festivals in one of the forty countries and five continents in which her works are shown.
Karina Smigla-Bobinski was born in Stettin in 1967, and between 1986 and 87 she studied at the Academy of Pictorial Arts in Kraków. In 1993 she continued her studies at the Munich Academy as a master student under Gerhard Berger, which she completed with a diploma.She invited the general public to participate in her work as early as 1999 in her installation entitled SILVER SALT. When visitors enter the space which is completely covered in earth, their footsteps uncover mementos like photographs, locks of hair, ribbons and letters placed under plexiglass plates. Each visitor uncovers another piece of history for, according to Marcel Proust, the past hides itself “as soon as it has passed away, within a material object“ and not in the memory created in our minds (Contre Sainte-Beuve, 1954). The title of the installation refers to the materialisation of the past through the light-sensitive substances used in photography. The installation changes just as the stories change with every revealed memento. “A work of art no longer belongs to you once you have released it. Then it is a part of the world, influences it, and changes the world and itself through the confrontation with other people.” (Karina Smigla-Bobinski)Karina Smigla-Bobinski was born in Stettin in 1967, and between 1986 and 87 she studied at the Academy of Pictorial Arts in Kraków. In 1993 she continued her studies at the Munich Academy as a master student under Gerhard Berger, which she completed with a diploma.
She invited the general public to participate in her work as early as 1999 in her installation entitled SILVER SALT. When visitors enter the space which is completely covered in earth, their footsteps uncover mementos like photographs, locks of hair, ribbons and letters placed under plexiglass plates. Each visitor uncovers another piece of history for, according to Marcel Proust, the past hides itself “as soon as it has passed away, within a material object“ and not in the memory created in our minds (Contre Sainte-Beuve, 1954). The title of the installation refers to the materialisation of the past through the light-sensitive substances used in photography. The installation changes just as the stories change with every revealed memento. “A work of art no longer belongs to you once you have released it. Then it is a part of the world, influences it, and changes the world and itself through the confrontation with other people.” (Karina Smigla-Bobinski)
Karina Smigla-Bobinski’s early videos are also about the way we perceive human existence. In a break with conventional habits of seeing she installed the monitor for the video EMERGING in a recess in the floor so that visitors were permanently able to look down on a person emerging from the water in an endless loop. The video DREAM JOURNEY is a surreal journey into a world roughly the same size as a human life. “When people ask us who we are, we tell them stories about us”, explained Laurie Anderson when she was talking about her album Album Bright Red (1994), whose songs are responsible for the musical part. The video is a sequence of memory fragments and emotional states in the form of abstract poetic sequences in which the hands of two lovers touch each other and remove themselves once more, coloured drops of water fall into a watery surface, float past each other, come together to make up a duet and finally dissolve into blurry streaks. Photos of a little girl function as testimonies to the memory of her being swept away on a journey by her father. The sea horizon, reflections in the water and the movement of the waves underline the permanent fluidity of life and a life lived between dream and reality.
A whole presence of a person with his/her forms of interaction, strengths and weaknesses, also stands at the centre of the video ROUTES. A face made up of drops of water simultaneously emerging, distorting and flowing into one another is looking more inside itself than at the viewer: it symbolises isolation and the fruitless nature of passing life. Its different states make it a metaphor for the plurality inherent in individuals and all the different roles in a person’s daily life. Karina Smigla-Bobinski not only thematises aspects of a philosophy of being but, by using the artistic techniques of video and other different forms of presentation, involves her viewers in a discussion about people’s social status.
The role of individuals over and against other people is thematised in the interactive video installation ALIAS. Here visitors stand in front of running projectors to throw a shadow on a white wall: within the white wall can be seen life-size video projections of other people, mostly of other origins and nationality. Just as in Plato’s “parable of the cave” the projection surface becomes an object of discussion about one’s own reality, whereas the projections of the visitors’ shadows throw up questions about their relationship to other people.
The techniques of the artist are just as ephemeral as the expressions of life they document: video and slide projections are as ephemeral as the places in which they take place: images for performances on stage and situations created in public spaces. In 2000 she began work on a video set for a dance performance entitled SEE AND BE SCENE – A CATWALK BANQUET, that was created over a number of years. The show was directed by Helena Waldmann and based on motifs from the novel “Glamorama” by Bret Easton Ellis. Here three female Japanese dancers play out a drama of vanities on a catwalk. Karina Smigla-Bobinski projects their faces, mirrored in drops of water, on a screen hanging 6 metres above the stage. The performers wait for the drops of water to explode with the “horrified expression of prisoners shortly before their execution”, until the drop of water dissolves itself into a trickle. Once again the viewers are involved for they can only see the projection with the help of mirrors.
Karina Smigla-Bobinski also stages metaphors of memory in public spaces. In 2004 she installed three grass covered artificial ISLANDS in the lake of the Munich Olympic Park near the Olympia Hill, beneath which the rubble from the destroyed city was piled up after the Second World War (it has now been greened over). At sunset reflections of light revealed women sleeping in the depths: they could be interpreted as personifications beneath the park containing hidden memories of the war. The artist intended the natural movement of the water to create the impression of a video in which the women could be seen breathing and moving gently. Her work with video techniques originally goes back to her paintings studies at the Munich Academy, during which she engaged with the theory of colours and form, and finally with light and space. The reflections in the depths of the lake not only paraphrased the transformation of individual images in a film turned into motion by nature; the sleeping female figures could also be interpreted, as in classic paintings, as allegories of nature or of the women who worked so hard to reconstruct the city (Thomas Huber, 2014). In 2008, the artist used a similar projection entitled DEEP TREE on the occasion of the sculptural project Ciudad de la Escultura (City of Sculpture) in Mérida in the Mexican state of Yucatán. Here she installed a network of living bamboo canes corresponding to tropical vegetation. The work threw up associations with the mythological Earth Mother Pachamama, who is admired by the indigenous peoples of South America because she gives them life, nourishes them and protects them, is capable of ritual communication and today symbolises identity, social and political resistance, and the hope of an all-round structured life.
Whereas SEE AND BE SCENE (2000) and ISLANDS (2004) implied social, critical, historical and political aspects, the projects between 2005 and 2009 were expressly motivated by social and political considerations. Sensing in advance the dramatic development of refugee problems she was treating the sealing of the outside borders of “Fortress Europe” as early as 2005. Here she reacted to the extension of the border fence around the Spanish enclaves Ceuta and Melilla with her room installation 7 METRES, in which chain-linked fences and barbed wire fences prevented visitors from moving freely within the gallery.
The dance theatre show LETTERS FROM TENTLAND (2005 in Teheran) caused a political uproar. Here the director Helena Waldmann visualised the lives of the Iranian women caught between veils (symbolised by life-size tents) and liberation (symbolised by spoken letters to correspondents abroad). Karina Smigla-Bobinski was responsible for the stage projections featuring images and film sequences from everyday life in Iran. The production was shown in seventeen countries around the world. When a shift in power prevented the Persian protagonists from travelling abroad any more the production was moved to the West with a counter-title RETURN TO SENDER. Now exiled Iranians women from Berlin are living in the tents that have become a symbol of provisional housing: the letters spoken in Iran are passionate pleas for freedom. Alongside music, the video projections by Karina Smigla-Bobinski play a major role. She brings the Iranian world onto the stage with her stills and film sequences of family members of the dancers, urban panoramas of Teheran and lines in Persian writing.
Karina Smigla-Bobinski demonstrated her sense for dramatic and controversial developments once again in her multipart art project QUERY presented around St Luke’s Church in Munich. The project asked critical questions about the meaning of religions and their place in our lives […] Do we really still need places of worship like churches, mosques and temples?” The installation of a balloon with a printed question mark orientated on the form and colours of markings on Google Maps simultaneously put the church on the worldwide net and questioned its validity. An internet project offered users the opportunity to go online to express their own standpoints with regard to the questions put. QUERY thematised the split between people’s religious attitudes and global management and the role of the internet as an information platform that has been dictating the attitudes of the world for many years now. Karina Smigla-Bobinski is of the opinion that the fierce (and ever increasing) religious conflicts between Moslems, Jews and Christians completely contradict the globalisation on the World Wide Web that challenges the right of religions to rule the world. In 2008 she showed another work dealing with globalisation at the Biennale in Busan. The video installation, entitled WORMHOLE, showed two places at opposite ends of the Earth (Busan and New York) by means of a fictional direct visual link through a hole in the ground. Here people beneath the skyscrapers and skies above New York could peer through a wormhole down onto Busan. Thus modern technology was able to bring the world closer together.
The artist’s current works are closely linked to the development and understanding of state-of-the art technologies. In 2011 she created ADA, a writing machine in a white room consisting of a spherical outer skin filled with helium with pieces of charcoal on the outside. Visitors were asked to hit them, upon which they began to make quasi-spontaneous drawings on the ground, ceiling and walls. The work can still be seen in exhibitions and art festivals around the world. ADA is a reference to Ada Lovelace (1815-1852), a British mathematician and the daughter of Lord Byron, who laid down the basis for a mechanical computers to produce works of art. Thus it was also intended to work independently and develop something like its own personality. At the same time visitors were encouraged to involve themselves in an interaction: not simply to observe the work of art but also to intervene in the production process. The machine was dependent on how violently it was moved, but could only be controlled to a certain extent. The resulting drawings resembled nanostructures configured by nanoswitches in state-of-the art computer processors, that are also responsible for links in the human brain.
Karina Smigla-Bobinski’s “bridge between media technology and the psychology of perception” (Thomas Huber, 2014) was clear in her experimental setting SIMULACRA, that was shown for the first time in 2013 in the Museum of Transitory Art (MoTA) in Ljubljana. A cube made up of four white LCD screens with visible cables and control units initially seems like a conspicuous source of light. But with the help of visitors it can be brought to life with the help of magnifying glasses. These contain polarisation foils that have been previously removed from the screens, and which reveal the film running on the video screens once more. The body parts, hair and touching hands and feet seen on the film on the inside of the screen suggest that human beings are inside the apparatus. The general public is not only encouraged to try out new ways of seeing, for turning the magnifying glasses in different ways results in ever-changing optical effects. On the basis of debates that have been conducted since the 1980s on the flood of images in contemporary life, the apparatus also helps us to realise that, in an age of globally mediated electronic images, our image of reality is not created within machines but inside our heads. This is also similarly applicable to auditory experiences, as was shown in the same year by Karina Smigla-Bobinski in her sound installation CONE beneath the cupola of the historic Tophane-i Amire Culture and Arts Centre in Istanbul. Water that seems to be dripping continuously into the building through an opening in the vault is in reality coming from a loudspeaker over the film cone installed in the space above.
MORNING STAR, 2013 developed for the international exhibition “gast.freund.schaft – sculpture Europe” in Trier is surprising for its precise construction: the spherical sculpture consists of hundreds of arrows surrounding the “black hole” in a field of gravitation in the centre. The “shafts” (a pun on part of the German title) of the arrows link the deadly tips on one end of the arrow with the soft feathers on the other, two aspects of hospitality (“Gast.freund.schaft”“= guest.friend.ship or hospitality), that might be experienced in various attitudes both at home and abroad. The title of the work is equally ambivalent: it is not only another name for the planet Venus but was also a deadly war weapon in the Middle Ages.
The selection of works displayed here show that Karina Smigla-Bobinski is not fixed to any particular art form. Alongside classical room installations, she works with videos, stage shows, in specific situations and different places, with internet projects, installations in public spaces, and sound, not forgetting electronic and kinetic experiments. For her, technological and philosophical frames of reference are not ends in themselves but general means to present themes in an artistic manner. In 2013 she spoke about this in an interview with Ida Hirsenfelder: “For me the technical solutions are never only formal. […] When I use technical things, I like to use them in a very clear way. I need to use a simple language, because I am talking about a complex world.”
Since 2005 she has been teaching and giving guest lectures and workshops in universities and cultural organisations around the world. Since 2013 she has been a member of DiBari Innovation Design in Florida (USA), a design studio, in which architects, artists and designers can work together on visions of future cities. At the end of 2015 she will work as Artist in Residence in the centre for interdisciplinary research at the University of Bielefeld, where she will cooperate with academics from different disciplines all over the world to research the “ethics of copying” and the” genetic and social causes of life opportunities”. The results will be shown in an exhibition.
Why did you choose the installation as an expressive medium?
At the beginning of my artistic way I was a Painter. I used to work on 2D canvas surface, but very quickly I came to questions about color and form, as well as their movement on the surface and in the depth – the illusion of space. But what is color? It is a spectrum of light that reaches the human eye. And why should I simulate space when I can use the real one? So I decided to move from 2D to 3D and to use the light and public, theatre or exhibitions space as my space of art. On this way I came to installation. Working on this field I wanted immediately to involve the visitors because I saw its great potential and enrichment for my work. So that I transformed “my” space to “our” space, where all of us should be an active part of it. And I mean really active … not only to be present, but to use your body to get the idea of being a real part of it. Lot of my artworks are developed so that visitors complete the work of art. Prof. Mike Stubbs, the Director of FACT, the Foundation for Art and Creative Technology in Liverpool says that for an institution like FACT „it is gold dust, bringing together engagement, collaboration, participation and wonder, one that is social and democratic“.
From Jean Tinguely I learned that art should be IN the society and not outside of it and that the temporary factor and the big size of artworks protects against the annexation by the closed community of art dealers and collectors, who understand art as an investment. (This way almost all artworks disappear in the dark cellars of Art Depots.) So for me as an artist, it exempted me from the concerns about art market ranking and so on and allows me to make art, as I want to do. Art is my communication medium which opens me an access to direct exchange with wide audience. It is very important for me that the entrance into the practical experience of art is possible for everyone and that visitors may decide how far they dip into the art experience according to their ability or will. I dig a hole to Wonderland … but jumping into it? This, you need to do by yourself.
For example in my installation ADA I like the fact, that visitors are able to work with the intuition and use their body to explain how it works. The globe put in action by visitors fabricates a composition of lines and points, which are incalculable in their intensity and expression. The signs on the walls are recorded memories of the movement and thus the characters of the visitors. But ADA does not follow 100% “programs” or commands of people. However hard the visitor tries to control ADA, to drive her, to domesticate her, he would notice very soon, that ADA is an independent performer and sometimes she just works away.
Where do you get the inspiration for the creation of your installations?
My artworks are materialized stations or results of my thoughts. I’m an artist and my primary perception is a visual one. I think in pictures, and so I articulate myself in this way. It is logical that my (communication) medium is a visual one.
We live in this world and I try to understand what is going on outside of the black box of our body. Sometimes, I set my view to the outside and position myself in relation to the others. Sometimes, I set my gaze inward and examine our perception and awareness. Therefrom, I create art to get in dialogue with the others. The interactive artworks create an unhesitating connection, where information flows not only in one direction (artist > artwork > visitors), but influence each other and create something new, when meet in the artwork (artist > artwork < visitor).
Is there an artist who has inspired you?
There are a lot of them! … and not only artist! There are scientist, philosophers, writer, theatre makers … exactly, for example last week I saw ‘barbarians’ by Hofesh Shechter at Berliner Festspiele … He shows us what means human condition, honesty, synesthesia of body, music, movement … wow!
What is your favorite art work?
Art works are not trophies that I collect in a showcase. Art is not a competition! Art enters into a dialogue with people and meanwhile they can fight against each other or in turn build on each other, support, or influence one another, quote from each other… but never ever wants to be your favorite one! This do works that have been made to be sold … but those are more products than works of art.
DipART is a blog/platform that would like to give significance and importance to the artists who work with the big installation. The total installation concept was born in 1827 with Richard Wagner. DipART would like to analyse the trasformation of the immersive installations during the time.
Size intrigues when it appears atypical. The greater the distinction, the stronger the magnetism, forcing us to hold our eyes on to that something to assimilate the particulars, make sense of it and have it lodged in our minds. Profiling 40 artists known for their monumental sculptures and installations put up around the world, OVERS!ZE investigates how size functions as a delightful tool to make a statement, break the routine or shrink us — taking us back to a time where everything else was much larger than us. In the INTERVIEW section, we speak to some of the world’s most active big thinkers, to find out how they perceive space, public space and the merits of scaling up art.
OVERS!ZE – The Mega Art & Installations by Katherine Wong, Interview for “OVERSIZE” book project by Victionery based in Hong Kong
K.W.:What was ADA originally produced for?
K.S-B.: ADA is a result of my thoughts and inquiries about the fundamental idea of ‘computer as a machine’ that can remember and create works of art, such as poetry, music, or pictures like an artist. I have developed ADA without a client. After she was finished in 2010, curators Ricardo Barreto and Paula Perissinotto invited ADA, as the first, to FILE Festival 2011 in São Paulo, Brazil. Then came FAD Festival in Belo Horizonte (Brazil), FACT Foundation in Liverpool (U.K.), FILE Festival in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) and ZERO1 Biennial in Silicon Valley (U.S.), GARAGE Center for Contemporary Culture in Moscow (Russia), etc..
K.W.:What kind of influences do Ada Lovelace and Jean Tinguely have on you?
K.S-B.: I did the same by looking at “machines” today as an artist and building a post-industrial and post-digital “creature” that resembles a molecular hybrid (such as one from nano biotechnology) with the ability to produce artworks through an open source method. In connection to copy-right debate, there appears a very interesting question too — what is exactly the work of art? The balloon, the drawings on the wall or both? 🙂 On the other hand, Jean Tinguely was an artist who disapproved the commercialisation of art and had built kinetic artworks out of industrial age machine parts, of which some are generative, like Métamatics that could draw on its own. Some other of his artworks were designed to be self-destructive, which he described as “under destruction”, a creative force and structural transformation. I developed the idea of Jean Tinguely, where a kinetic artwork expanded itself by the action with which I entrusted the visitors. The visitors thus became the driving force responsible for the expansion of ADA. From every aspect, Jean Tinguely paved the way for me.
K.W.:With ADA, what kind of experience did you intend to bring to the public and the exhibition space?
K.S-B.: The normal, traditional way of viewing art is to go to gallery and look, but the participation is confined to looking and nothing more. All reactions occur inside the viewers’ head instead of physically to the piece. Interactivity in art stands out as a way to connect with the audience. This contact between art and the public creates a relationship that involves the viewer personally in the project. The best part of interactive art installations is when you can use your body which then turns you into a part of the art piece. When we talk about interactivity, we imagine it as a digitally-created, non-physical experience which computers and electronics have very often forced into the foreground. But ADA as a post-digital artwork does not need programming because ADA is an analogue interactive kinetic sculpture. Same as my other works, it is very important for me that the entrance into the practical experience of art is possible for everyone and that visitors may decide how far they dip into the art experience according to their ability or will. I like the fact that visitors are able to work with the intuition in my installations and use their body to explain how they work. Here, as ADA is put in action by visitors, she would then fabricate a composition of lines and points which are incalculable in their intensity and expression. By exerting control on ADA, constantly visitors would fall into some kind of a trance as they try to govern ADA’s drawing path. Sometimes people forget where they are and that ADA is balloon vulnerable to damages. They might sometimes get a little bit too rough with her.
K.W.:Do you consider ADA a machine or a being?
K.S-B.: ADA is constructed to have her own will. Once you set her into motion she just works away. What ADA produces is very humane because she seems to respond to some of a human instincts. The only method to decode these signs and drawings is to understand them as the intuitive association of our jazzy dreams and thoughts. It is a good feeling of having created a piece of art that is autonomous and that it would not be complete without visitors. Within the balloon-space-people relation, visitors are obliged to respond. That was my intention when I built ADA for the first time, but the reality got beyond my wildest dreams. Perhaps it is an intuitive reaction of the body that provokes us to stretch our hands to catch or push the ball and not let it drop. It floats weightlessly in the air and changes the perception. The more she is handled by visitors, the blacker she gets from the charcoal and thus seems more “alive”. Even I, who built her, sometimes get the illusion that she is a living thing. Already at her first public appearance in São Paulo, visitors asked where ‘uma bola com carbon (a ball with charcoal)’ was as they looked for ADA. But after they interacted with ADA, they referred to ADA using the name or “she”, so did the many English visitors at FACT Liverpool. So it happened that I use “ADA” or “she” now, too. Anyway the concept of ADA is a temporal “under destruction” artwork with her lifetime equal to the duration of an exhibition. Her age will progress with the number of people who visits her, their temperament and the galleries’ supervision on site.
K.W.:What was it like creating and building ADA? How did ADA conceive its unique form and look?
K.S-B.: While Ada Lovelace’s idea of a machine laid the grounds for ADA, in the new post-industrial age where the Web is born of a desire for speedy and open access to information and nanotechnology comes from a desire for speed and miniaturisation, ADA becomes the common ground for both nano-switch networks and human brains, which explains how she generates marks like when a switchnetwork configures itself to create “quick routes”, in the structure of a synapse. If, in this very serious scientific world, we could follow the White Rabbit and fall into the world of art, we might imagine that it makes no difference whether ADA is alive or not when we consider ADA as a nano creature. As Scottish physicist James Gimzewski concluded, together with Masakazu Aono, the creator of the first nano-switch, and Argentine neurologist Dante Chialvo, the basic mechanism of the brain is the same as the basic dynamics of nano-switches. Knowing this and inspired by Ada Lovelace’s poetic way of thinking, I took the idea of the nano-machine which then I manipulated on the scale against the standards with silicone, helium and carbon. I created an art machine, an independent creature capable of claiming the whole room for itself and eventually along with visitors.
K.W.:How do size and scale matter to ADA?
K.S-B.: Size and scale decide our perception and how we deal with the interactive artwork. The relation between our bodies and the artwork is crucial. If the artwork is smaller than we are, then it is subjected to us and thus, be absorbed or rejected. And if it is equivalent to our size, then it will mutate into a counterpart which we have to act toward. But when the artwork is bigger, much bigger than us, then it will become a superordinate which we are compelled to absorb and be subjected. We would have to respond to it, arrange ourselves or leave it. For ADA, the last two conditions apply. Relatively equivalent in size, visitors would perceive ADA as their counterpart. As for the drawings which covered the entire gallery space, the lines would exert influences on the visitors, whom simultaneously become part of the work.
K.W.:What do you expect the audience to take away after interacting with ADA? Is it necessary for them to understand why you built ADA?
K.S-B.: In all exhibitions with ADA, I observed and spoke with the visitors (ranging from children to NASA employees). To those who reflected on this work, their ideas seemed to go with my thoughts. This is like a controlled free fall into the hole of the White Rabbit. Similar, for example, to the experience of the still life paintings from the 17th and 18th century, the concern of a painter was on the one hand to grasp the nature and objects of everyday life in their beauty and play, and convey a hidden message or a mental content on the other hand. To read these coded messages (then as now) you have to dip deep into the art experience. However, those that remain on the surface, they also can find satisfaction in the aesthetics of visual experience (beauty of the presentation). There were also those who ignore all that and create his own reading mode and meaning. In this case, it was interesting for me to know their thoughts.
K.W.:Where would ADA go after the exhibitions?
K.S-B.: After the ADAs are back, they remain in the boxes in which they are returned to me. ADA is “under destruction”, meaning they will not be washed or repaired. For a new exhibition, I build a new ADA and each ADA has only one life. I will rather continue to drive the destruction as I have in mind the decomposition of ADA into its individual parts and the parts might create small documentary sculptural objects as mementos of the interactions.
K.W.:Among all the interactive projects you’ve been involved, which one do you enjoy most and why?
K.S-B.: The first artwork that comes to mind is ADA because it is the current project, but also ALIAS which can be understood as a metaphor for the dependency of art — without a viewer or visitor it is trapped in an incomplete existence. The visitor are alienated in an intimate situation. The strange confrontation with the personal shadow and the appearance of a stranger inside creates a tension between individuality conceived within one’s own silhouette and the presence of an image of somebody else.
* Victionery is a design book publisher workshop based in Hong Kong that focuses on visual communication. > more
The sculpture’s name, Ada, references Ada Lovelace, who, in the 19th century, wrote a series of notes to Charles Babbage about his idea for an “analytical engine.“ Some interactive, kinetic sculptures, like Olafur Eliasson’s Weather Project or Roman Ondák’s Measuring the Universe, require the viewer to also help complete it. Others, like AnL Studio’s Lightwave, interact in order to take on anthropomorphic, animated qualities. Well, Karina Smigla-Bobinski’s Ada, an interactive sculpture (…) does both.
The premise for this exhibition lends itself well to interactive art and it was no surprise that the most easily accessible interactive artworks were the most popular with the public. For me, ADA by Karina Smigla-Bobinski, was by far the most fun and clever piece of art I’ve seen for a long time. It is a huge helium filled membrane like globe, with charcoal pieces attached at regular intervals. Referred to as a ‘she’, with her own free will, ADA floats around the room drawing on the walls and ceiling with her charcoal sticks. The viewer can interact with ADA by pushing and spinning her into the walls and together beautiful abstract drawings are created, made up of Cy Twombly style dots and dashes. Some may say the obvious choice, but I think this artwork is truly inspired in concept and practice alike and a must see (or do). (…)
ADA is an analogue interactive installation made of a giant ball filled with helium, covered in charcoal spikes. As the ball drifts around the space, charcoal marks accumulate on the walls. Visitors can push the ball around the space freely, but the results are never predictable. (…)
Quick introduction words about the FILE, the Electronic Language International Festival that takes place in São Paulo this Summer. As usual, the event mixes and matches immersive installations, animations movies, performances, machinimas, besides works of web art, documentary, and other goodies you expect from this ambitious new media art festival. This year, however, i’ve been particularly blown away by the least techy works in the exhibition. I’ll come back to them in the coming days in a more generous report but i’d like to kick off my reports from the festival with a short post about ADA – analog interactive installation, by Karina Smigla-Bobinski. (…)
Artist Karina Smigla-Bobinski has created an installation comprised of an enormous, helium-filled balloon with a hedgehog-like coating of charcoal sticks trapped inside a room. The balloon floats around the room, leaving charcoal marks on the white walls as it bounces from wall to wall. The piece, called Ada, is being exhibited at the FILE festival in Sao Paulo. (…) Resembling some sort of molecular hybrid, the transparent globe bobs around the room seemingly autonomously. Visitors can push the sphere around the room and watch it react to the external impetus. (…)
Description > analog interactive installation / kinetic sculpture / post-digital drawing machine Components > PVC balloon, charcoals, helium, air Dimensions > 3 m diameter Space > variable, most: 10 m long x 6 m wide x 4 m high
Try out > 2010, Kunstverein / Ebersberg (Germany) World premiere > 2011, FILE – Electronic Language Int. Festival / São Paulo (Brazil)
Supported by Lars Schubert & Hochhinaus Luftwerbegesellschaft mbH > www.hochhinaus.de
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