Hunting a Snark? | Rudi Knoops


exploring uncharted terrain on the New Media map (after Lewis Carroll)

ISEA2011 – quite some time ago

Writing about cancelling my participation in ISEA2013, I realised I had not posted here about my participation in ISEA2011 a few years ago. The 2011 edition of ISEA took place at Istanbul, a fabulous city at the crossroads of Europe and Asia.

ISEA2011 @ Istanbul

In my paper for ISEA2011 I discussed the installation DIORAMATIZED #02 that I at that time was making for an exhibition @ M Museum Leuven. I analyzed the installation in the light of  Stephen Bann’s writings about curiosity. Hence, the title of my paper and presentation seems quite logical: Curiosy as an artist’s brief.

You can find the text of the full paper at the ISEA2011 webportal (the ISEA2011 proceedings still haven’t been published, what a difference with ISEA 2013!) or at my page.

The abstract:

In this paper I will discuss some of the techniques that I use as an artist to instill curiosity. The criteria for my ‘discourse’ are set out by Stephen Bann in his book “Ways around Modernism” (Stephen Bann, 2006) wherein he formulates an “ambitious brief for the present-day artist in respect to curiosity”. I will elaborate on this brief with references to my own work, and show how a media-archaeological mindset, facilitated by a strong interest in and linkeage between art and science, can be an important source of inspiration for an artist. Being a media artist, I try to expand the code of the video apparatus by subverting parameters of the medium. One media-archeology based technique that I employ is re-injecting analogue elements into this highly digital apparatus. The technique of anamorphosis is one such analogue form of mediation that I employ in my PhD research: using multiple catoptrical anamorphoses with multiple optical (analogue) ‘lenses’ as mediators between the digital apparatus and the observer. This approach touches the core of my PhD research wherein I explore how interventions on a number of parameters of the video apparatus can generate a sense of wonder and curiosity with the observer, in search of a contemporary iteration of the concept ‘cinema of attractions’ (Tom Gunning, 1990). ‘Cinema of attractions’ being an everpresent undercurrent surging to the surface whenever the fascination for and the explicitation of the medium takes the lead. It is clear that this stress on curiosity as part of an artist’s brief also has an impact on research methodologies being used: research through design could in this context easily be rephrased as research through curiosity. Finally I will take this discourse one step further: if the artist succeeds in passing on (part of) his own deeply personal mode of curiosity to his audience, only then can curiosity start to offer the building blocks for a new epistemology for the present day (Madeleine Grynsztejn, 2007).

The Noises of Art – Sept. 2013

In september I was in Aberystwyth, Wales for The Noises of Art conference. The theme of the conference was situated on the intersection of “visual art and aural modes of creative practice”.  As my installations MULTIPLE voice/vision and DIORAMATIZED #02 both work exactly on that intersection – or the friction – between the visual and the auditive, this promised to be a very interesting conference.

Aberystwyth seafront

I sent in the proposal  The framing function of the body – a phenomenological inquiry for the session themed embodied sound. Its content was an iteration and further elaboration of the presentation I gave in February at the one-day symposium Sound & Image @ M Museum Leuven.
The Aberystwyth three-day gathering of noises and art proved indeed to be very inspiring with interesting talks and positive feedback on my own presentation.

My abstract:

In art theory and contemporary digital art sensorial mixing and transmutation have superseded the modernist segregation of the senses (Jones, 2007). Artists explore how the technologically mediated world is perceived through the body and its multiple senses. The phenomenological tradition shares this interest in embodied perception, and provides a broader context for these inquiries into the relation between human sensorium and technological mediation. In Mark Hansen’s concept of embodied perception it is “the confrontation of antithetical media interfaces [...] that can catalyze a shift in perceptual modality—from perception passively guided by a technical frame to perception actively created via (human) framing” (Hansen, 2004, p. 87).

In this presentation I will focus on disruptive strategies in my media installations: how injecting friction at different interface levels enables the framing function of the body; how this friction explicitates technological mediation, and at the same time makes it possible (for the observer) to question these forms of mediation.

To illustrate my discourse, I will refer to the media installation MULTIPLE voice/vision, a large spatial structure wherein multilayered polyphonic textures—Bach’s Musikalisches Opfer & contemporary polyphonic music—are mapped to multiple audiovisual elements. I will first discuss friction at a purely visual level: my use of cylindrical anamorphosis; its double (inter)face; its combination of analogue (hardware) and the digital; its phenomenological implications. A second level of friction is between the layers of sound and vision. I will discuss how this friction is also related to a built-in friction between different sensory modes of the human perceptual system. Using this multi-layered approach I will illustrate how the complex interaction of different levels of friction, presented in a black-box constellation, enables the complete dissolution of the traditional technical frame, and opens up possibilities to unleash the full potential of the framing function of the body.

ISEA2013 – June 2013

I really looked forward to going to the 2013 ISEA edition.  My abstract was accepted, and this event in Sydney June 2013 would probably be another milestone in my current PhD trajectory.
Alas, I had to – last minute – cancel my trip and my participation in the conference.

ISEA2013 logo

Well, anyway the work and time invested in preparing my presentation is not lost and an important step in the evolution of my PhD.

My abstract, accepted for the topic or subtheme Histories and Futures of Electronic Art:

Anamorphosis. A mystery in two acts or a strategy for embodied perception?

Keywords: anamorphosis, embodied perception, phenomenology, media archaeology

In this paper I will discuss how anamorphosis can be deployed as a contemporary strategy for triggering embodied perception. I will illustrate this with examples from my own work. Anamorphosis  is intricately linked to linear perspective, the origins of which can be traced back to the Renaissance. Linear perspective is a construction following a set of rules. It implies a reduction of human vision in two aspects: that we see with a single eye, and that the eye is immobile (Panofsky, 1927) (Friedberg, 2006). Anamorphosis is a corruption of the rules of linear perspective and I will argue that in contrast to linear perspective, the act of viewing an anamorphosis implies a ‘lesser reduction’ of human vision, a ‘lesser reduction’ that is different for the two main categories of anamorphosis: perspectival anamorphosis – where the distorted image can be viewed correctly from a particular vantagepoint – and catoptrical anamorphosis – where the reconstituted image can be seen in the reflection from a suitable mirror. Jurgis Baltrušaitis describes perspectival anamorphosis as “a mystery in two acts” (Baltrušaitis, 1977) where the search for the correct vantagepoint re-inserts mobility into the process of perception. I will argue that cylindrical anamorphosis – as one possible form of catoptrical anamophosis – even goes one step further in restoring human vision to its full capacity, as also binocularity becomes a pre-requisite to fully and in an embodied way experience the three-dimensional illusion of cylindrical anamorphosis. Finally, I will use Mark Hansen’s  phenomenological lens of affective or bodily perception (Hansen, 2004) to analyse the effect of cylindrical anamorphosis’ inherent friction between the digital and the analogue, and how such an injection of the analogue into a contemporary electronic media setting can be a trigger for embodied perception.



June 2017
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I currently have a PhD fellowship at KU Leuven, Associated Faculty of the Arts. This blog documents my PhD research, where I explore the workings of cylindrical anamorphosis in audiovisual media. My practice based arts research shows an evolution towards installation-based works.