The artworks exhibited at the upcoming Off the MAP event may never be seen the same way again. On Thursday, September 30, Ghost in the Machine: The Marriage of Software and Art, will demonstrate generative and reactive computer art that changes continually in response to software programming or a viewer’s input. The works will be displayed on a large screen, and attendees are also invited to fully experience reactivity by bringing laptop computers, connecting to wireless internet, and simultaneously interacting with their own individual versions of the pieces. The exhibition will take place at 8:30 p.m. at the Black Mountain College Museum and Arts Center (BMCMAC) at 56 Broadway in downtown Asheville.
"Ghost in the Machine" refers to the computer's ability to make choices within limits set by the artist who creates generative pieces. When the computer chooses variations, in a sense, it is exercising a will endowed by the artist. The ghost in the machine is the influence or force that makes a generative piece play out differently every time, instead of identically as a film would.
During Ghost in the Machine: The Marriage of Software and Art, demonstration pieces will change patterns and movement according to your mouse clicks. Permutation Poetry will shuffle entered words and grammatical units, allowing for an abundance of possible texts. Audio visualizations will react to music. Brian Eno’s generative music, made from 150 musical parameters selected by the composer, will be played in an improvisational order chosen by a computer.
Local artist Curt Cloninger - a speaker and featured artist at worldwide events; author of Fresh Styles for Web Designers, an industry standard book on web design; contributor to many publications such as the New York Times; Media Arts Project board member; and a Multimedia Arts and Sciences instructor at UNCA—will show his Synesthetic Bubble Gum Cards along with the other international selections. The cards perpetually transform, offering different combinations of images ranging from well-known paintings to Cloninger’s own photos, encouraging the viewer to reconsider the images in different contexts.
Cloninger, curator and discussion leader for the one-evening demonstration, is drawn to generative and reactive work because of its random and unfinished aspects. “No matter how experimental a film is,” he says, “it’s still linear. With this art, the maker relinquishes control to the user or computer.” Cloninger has dubbed the interactive, personalized exhibit B.Y.O.L—Bring Your Own Laptop. In addition to being gratifying and fun, interactivity and non-linearity are qualities that reflect today’s culture and will increasingly become a part of cinematic and artistic experiences.
However, generative and reactive arts existed well before digital art. Cloninger will discuss predecessors of the current genre by artists such as William Burroughs and—fittingly for an event at BMCMAC—John Cage, the noted composer who worked and collaborated at Black Mountain College.
BMCMAC, which seeks to commemorate Black Mountain College’s legacy of artistic and educational innovation, will continue to host Off the MAP exhibits. Off the MAP, a regular series of screenings and exhibits, is organized by the Media Arts Project (MAP).
For more information about Ghost in the Machine: The Marriage of Software and Art, contact Rose McLarney at rosem at themap.org or 828-280-1339. Admission is $5.00.
Promotional materials were designed by Klein Digital, using imagery from one of the demonstration pieces, at www.re-move.org.