[ISEA97] Artist Statement: Richard Brown – Alembic

Artist Statement

Alembic represents a synthesis of art, science and mysticism—it is an encapsulation of my multi-disciplinary history — including computing, electronics, chemistry, time-based kinetic and organic sculptures and interactive installations. My work reflects an interest in the concepts of time, space and energy and relates to the 20th century idea of a Fourth Dimension, an idea which inspired Duchamp and a number of Cubists .The Cubists broke the traditional role of perspective and pictorial representation within painting; in a similar manner I wish to challenge the virtual reality paradigm of simulating a perceived reality and use the medium for creating work that is nonrepresentational, participatory and evocative.A key concept within Alembic is the notion of Dynamic Form (a term first used by the Italian Futurist Boccioni in 1913). For me, dynamic form conjures up the idea of shadows from a fourth dimension, 3D forms that do not obey the rules of”normal reality”— they are permeable and responsive to the perceiver, changing form and motion within the dimensions of time, space and energy. The content of Alembic responds to interactions made via the four sensing aerials which relate to the alchemical states of matter: fire, earth air and water. Alembic sets out to evoke a contemplative and immersive state of mind, where the viewer is an active participant, controlling and shaping that which they perceive. I programmed Alembic using ‘C’ and the World toolkit library from Sense 8. It runs on an Intergraph Pentium Pro computer with graphics acceleration. Movement and position sensing is via the MIT Electronic Fish, a device which works on a similar principle to the Theremin. A participant walking on the square mat area acts as a radio transmitter. That signal is picked up by the four sensing aerials and enables the calculation of location, proximity and movement. A Sanyo PLC5500 SVGA LCD projector delivers the imagery which is projected onto white silica sand.

  • Richard Brown (UK). Affiliation: Research Fellow, Royal College of Art, Interval Research Studio, Computer Related Design Department. Education: M.A. Fine Art, Nottingham Trent University,1995. B.Sc.Computers and Cybernetics, University of Kent, Canterbury, 1977.1 have worked continuously with interac­tive media since its early beginnings in 1983 within the arts, educational, entertainment and business sectors. For the last seven years I have been developing work that exists in a time-space continuum,exploring electrochemical and organic reactions as well electronic and computer based based media.These works have taken the form of interactive and kinetic sculptures, installations and three dimensional mixed media. lam currently researching “virtual reality” as a sculptural /installation medium at the Royal College of Art. Exhibitions have included:Alembic, the Bonington Gallery, Nottingham, March 1997; Eco works, four outdoor kinetic sculptures powered by the sun and wind; Lifeforce, an inter­active kinetic sculpture using high voltage electricity, neon and moss; electromagnetic works Wiggle and Time, shown at Wysing Arts Centre, Cambridge, 1995; Prema Arts Centre, Uley, Gloucestshire, 1994, and Nottingham Castle Museum, 1994; The Mirror, a digital time-based mirror, first shown at the Air Gallery, London, 1988; The Tunnel, an interactive digi­tised performance installation shown at the European Media Arts Festival,Osnabruk,and the Battersea Arts Centre, London, 1987; The Roboshow, where Robodevco,a prototype computer, controlled a forty-three screen, three dimensional sound experience hosted by”Q”,a virtual robot, London,1985.

With kind support from: Royal College of Art, London; Interval Research Corporation, Palo Alto, US; Intergraph and Virtual Presence, London; Sanyo and Saville, UK; The Bonington Gallery, Nottingham.