[ISEA2020] Paper: Andrea Wollensak, Brett Terry, Judith Goldman & Bridget Baird — Open Waters [Northwest Passage | Open Polar Sea | Arctic + Great Lakes Plastic]

Abstract (short paper)

Keywords: Interactivity, generative, audio-visual, physical/virtual, climate, environment, digital poetics

Open Waters [Northwest Passage | Open Polar Sea | Arctic + Great Lakes Plastic] is an interdisciplinary, interactive multimedia artwork inspired by a five-hundred-year history of expeditions that sought to find the Arctic Northwest Passage and Open Polar Sea. Through a constellation of interconnected pieces including an interactive book and interactive wall projection, Open Waters reworks a number of discursive and visual genres across disciplines. An interactive book features a suite of archival poems on Arctic exploration, politics, and ecological change. As the viewer/reader turns the pages of this print-digital hybrid book, projected digital generative art and poetic text intermingle recombinantly with printed text. The interactive back wall of the gallery combines video and audio generative works that respond to the activity present in the room, evoking the effects of human disruption of the Arctic environment.
Open Waters also considers the global circulation of microplastics through large format photographs of plastic pollution in Buffalo waterways; an animated, dynamic video projection that incorporates research poetry on plastics pollution in the Great Lakes system; and a floor assemblage incorporating locally collected used commodity plastics as well as raised etched glass panels depicting a historical water route from Buffalo to the Northwest Passage.

  • Andrea Wollensak is an artist and educator and Professor of Art at Connecticut College (USA) where she serves as Director of the Ammerman Center for Arts and Technology. Her work spans media from traditional and digital fabrication, to generative-interactive systems and includes collaborations with computer scientists, musicians, poets, and scientists. Themes in her work explore place-based narratives on environment and community. Wollensak has exhibited internationally, most notably at the Göteborg International Biennial, Nova Scotia Art Gallery, Brno Design Biennial Moravian Gallery, Brown University’s Granoff Center Gallery, and the Burchfield Penney Arts Center in Buffalo. Selected awarded grants and residencies include the Rockefeller Center in Bellagio, Italy, the International Artist Studio Program in Sweden, the National Science Foundation, Banff Centre for the Arts, and the Mellon Foundation. She has presented her work at numerous conferences including ISEA, SIGGRAPH, Generative Art Conference, SEAMUS, CAiiA, CAA, among others.
  • Brett Terry is a composer and sound artist when not busy with his daily life as a software engineer. His electro-acoustic, choral and chamber compositions have been performed at venues such as SEAMUS, ICMC, ISEA, CAiiA, and Sound Culture in addition to collaborating with visual artists on numerous audiovisual works. As an associate editor of Computer Music Journal (MIT Press), he curated a special issue on Visual Music.
  • Judith Goldman is author of four books of poetry: Vocoder (Roof 2001), DeathStar/Rico-chet (O Books 2006), l.b.; or, catenaries (Krupskaya 2011), and agon (The Operating System 2017), and has performed her work widely in the US, as well as internationally. As a poet, she is particularly interested in the aesthetic dimensions of scientific writing, radically mimetic, non-human uses of language that model environmental phenomena, and archival poetics that rub against the grain of dominant historical narratives. Also a literary critic of contemporary poetry and poetics, Goldman is an Associate Professor and the Director of the Poetics Program in the Department of English at University at Buffalo (SUNY, Buffalo, USA).
  • Bridget Baird is a Professor Emerita in Computer Science and Mathematics at Connecticut College (USA) and a past Director of the Ammerman Center for Arts and Technology. Much of her past and current research examines the intersections among the arts and various technologies. Some of her projects include investigating an archaeological site in Ecuador through virtual reality and digital methods, exploring music and dance through motion capture and multiple modalities, using digital techniques and algorithms to better understand and mine historical documents, and more recently, addressing climate change and environmental concerns by using generative art. Baird collaborated, as a Fulbright scholar, with colleagues in both Mexico and Ecuador. Involvement with the local community has also been important to her and a constant interest has been to increase the number of women in the sciences.