Sunday, January 9, 2011

Two works of colour and motion: guest blogger Sayumi Tsunenaga feels the impact of some entries

I have really enjoyed this month spending time playing with two large scale entries in the competition which involve the constant movement of brightly-coloured components in endless patterns, sometimes random and at other times following precise mathematical patterns.

Betty Tureaud’s Falling Cubes has given me endless amusement not so much watching it but getting right in amongst it and allowing it to batter and buffet me in ways which make me very glad that the bio-engineers of this world have given us the option to switch off our nervous system so that we do not feel pain when we choose not to. Being smashed around by Betty’s cubes makes you very much aware of how solid they are despite their initially jelly-like appearance (‘jello’ if you come from the Western Hemisphere, or parts of it anyway!) As soon as I saw it I was desperate to get right in there and see what would happen to me, and it took me a few moments (I’m not very bright with spatial awareness stuff, hee hee!) to work out that one needs to fly up to the top of the transparent tube in which this version of the work has been enclosed and then drop down inside. For a few seconds you will totter around unsteadily on a tangled pile of cubes, broken apart by the impact of the sudden stop at the bottom of their fall. But then the really exciting part begins, when you are smashed from above by 27 more (simple geometry and arithmetic I can do!) cubes as they break apart on your head! From there it’s a short journey to the bottom as you descend with the cubes melting beneath you, and then you stagger around in the crevices between the cubes while more pound down upon you from above. To really appreciate the fun of this work, bring a friend or two and try to hold hands among the cubes.

Three view of Betty Tureaud's Falling Cubes (UWA competition version)

Betty had another version of Falling Cubes on display at ArtNation, which was not enclosed, so the cubes bounced and spilled across the floor as they fell. This version also was ideal for positioning yourself just below the point where the cubes materialized, and watching as they broke apart on your head, cascading randomly to scatter more widely on the floor below. This is interactive art at its best, art as sheer torment for the body and highly coloured adrenalin-pumping excitement for the brain. You can get beaten up by more of Betty’s work in some parts of her new installation in the former Virtlantis sim. [I had originally said that I would post the SLURL for the ArtNation version, but it had been cleared away even before my post went to press; so unless Betty shows it somewhere else, readers will have to rely on my photo below to get the idea]
Betty Tureaud Falling Cubes (alternate version)

Located not far from Falling Cubes I came across the other formation of endlessly moving coloured shapes. Takni Miklos’s Snakes, comprising a multitude of whirling rectangular prisms of varying thickness, offers the viewer the opportunity to choose from two patterns of motion ('fuzzy' and 'focused'), and also collapsed and unimposing stillness. I tried to interfere with the work as I had with Falling Cubes, but the artist in this case has, perhaps wisely, denied the viewer that right, apart from through the coloured control cube on the ground. I had wondered if I might cause the prisms to scatter and watch them reform. No matter! The intrigue with Snakes is in determining the pattern and indeed the overall shape of what one is seeing. Whether viewed from the ground or from flight above the sculpture, the eye is never sure just what it is seeing – what are the patterns of colour and motion. In the end, this non-mathematically inclined viewer decided to simply relax and enjoy the show, and although at one point the work provided an interesting backdrop to a conversation on a completely different subject, its motion and, in the end to an extent at least, predictability, gave me some assurance that there are some features of another metaverse which can be depended upon even if they are constantly changing, which has provided a metaphor for my recent Second Life.

Takni Miklos - Snakes (fuzzy mode)

Viewing her works this month did provide Betty Tureaud with an opportunity to try to explain to me some of the building principles and especially the physics and mathematics of works such as hers. She was a patient teacher and I did follow her to an extent; but eventually she realized that although my eyes were still open I was in danger of falling into an irretrievable coma from brain strain, so she changed the subject and sweetly taught me how to make a bouncing rubber ball instead. So I’m a step ahead of a plywood box after two years in this wonderful, kaleidoscopic, colourful Second Life!