The University of California Institute for Research in the Arts supports embedded arts research through critical exchange

UCIRA Co-Director Marko Peljhan premieres polar m [mirrored] project in Japan.

The premiere presentation of the situation polar m [mirrored] by Carsten Nicolai and UCIRA Co-Director Marko Peljhan will be presented on Saturday, 13 November 2010, at the YCAM Center in Yamaguchi, Japan. The installation explores natural radiation phenomena and confronts them with the limits of human sensorial perception. Our understanding of the basic indeterminancy and the non-linear intelligence that one finds in nature’s apparent randomness and noise, is limited by the physical characteristics of our senses. The installation offers an unusual insight into the complexity of those natural structures. Like its predecessor project, polar, that was created at the Canon Artlab in Tokyo in 2000 and that won the Prix Ars Electronica for Interactive Art in 2001, polar m [mirrored] was created by the German artist Carsten Nicolai and the Slovenian artist Marko Peljhan. The exhibition is curated by Yukiko Shikata (guest curator) and Kazunao Abe (YCAM).

The project is part of the demonstration initiatives of the UCIRA Integrative Methodologies ART/SCIENCE series and was in part supported by the MAT program at UC Santa Barbara.

Nicolai and Peljhan are two internationally active artists who both deal with questions of art, science and technology and who have been collaborating occasionally since 1997, when they both took part in the documenta X contemporary art exhibition in Kassel, Germany. Both artists are researching and designing methods of environmental observation based on information and sensor technologies. With polar m [mirrored], they are proposing new perspectives on the global ecosystems. Their new work consists of two mirrored cubical spaces (one accessible and one not), a field of radiation generators and a system of radiation observatoria. It probes our understanding of the intelligence of nature and of human existence through the prism of radiation phenomena and their visualisation and sonification.

polar m [mirrored] follows the conceptual traces of the initial polar project which was concerned with the assumption of the global communications networks as an intelligent matrix. The initial thesis of polar was that the human created networks, with their exponential growth in complexity, begin to mimic indeterminant phenomena as we find them in nature itself. In that project the inherent intelligence of global networks and their qualities were analysed through a logical and deterministic system, based on the relationship between language, semantics and networks. The result of that analysis was then projected into an observation and events space and a dictionary of terms that grew over time. The visitors interactively affected the analysis system. In the first polar the matrix of cognition of the Solaris[1] ocean was the inspiration for a human created communications and cybernetic system, whereas polar m [mirrored] ventures into a more in-depth understanding of the Solaris ocean.

The polar m [mirrored] landscape explores the noise intelligence present in ephemeral and apparently random radiation phenomena through micro and macro transitions. Its spatial setup questions the relevance of the viewer, her or his presence within the space, and potential influence on it through the indenterminancy principle. The focus is on the work of art as an autonomous construction in a large, potentially infinite structure enveloped in an ocean of radiating particles.

Visual radiance together with different types of radiation (electromagnetic, α, β, ɣ) and associated sub-atomic particles are the dynamic triggers of the polar m [mirrored] algorithms. These algorithms sonify and visualise the events transmitted from the instruments present in the landscape (geiger counters, cloud chamber, high frequency receivers, and granite radiation generators observed by robot-controlled sensors). The soundscape is generated through the coupling of indeterminant radiation events. The sounds are spatialised using otoacoustics which generates them in the inner ear, making it impossible to locate them in physical space. Processes of nature, both man made and cosmic, which normally elude human perception, are temporarily brought down to a human scale.

Project website: http://polar-m.ycam.jp

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