[ISEA2011] Paper: Scott Hessels – Mediated Earthworks: New Media Go Wild


An increasing number of new media artworks are being created in remote, wilderness locations using the natural landscape as a formal property of the work.  Sophisticated sensor, location and presentation technologies are producing artworks inextricably linked to the natural features of their sites.  New media are introducing new types of environmental agency in sculptural, visual, cinematic, and narrative construction.

Recent developments in the portability and cost of emerging technologies now makes it possible to bring sensors, projectors, GPS readers and light installations out into the same isolated deserts that once drew a group of conceptual sculptors in the 1960’s.  The Earthworks movement broke free from the art object through systems, performance, deconstruction, mapping, dispersion, growth, negation and marking.  Each of these strategies can now be done computationally and a body of work is emerging that shares many of the same qualities and principles of these earlier sculptures.

Now captured data may have replaced the bulldozers, but these too are works not placed in a landscape, but utilizing the landscape itself as the impetus for creation. Earthworks connected physically, interactively with their environments and were designed to react to the forces found there; their new descendents also react to those forces but use technology to mediate.  Once again, artists are using modern tools on old materials.

  • Scott Hessels is filmmaker, sculptor and media artist who merges cinema with new technologies to create innovative media experiences. His artworks span several different media including film, video, web, music, broadcast, print, kinetic sculpture, and performance. His films have shown in numerous international film festivals and his installations have been presented in exhibitions around the world including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, CiberArt in Bilbao, Ars Electronica, The Ford Presidential Museum, SIGGRAPH, ISEA, and Japan’s Media Art Festival.  His work is featured in several books on new media art as well as magazines like Wired and Discover. His recent projects have mixed film with sensors, robotics, GPS systems, and alternative forms of interactivity and have included partnerships with NASA, The Federal Aviation Administration, Nokia among others.  He is currently an associate professor at The School of Creative Media in City University of Hong Kong.  dshessels.com

Full text (PDF) p. 1187-1191