Panel: Variable Reality – Inter-formalities in Digital/Analogue Arts
Within current art practice, artists engage with the earth sciences as a source of inspiration and as a provider of data about the physical environment. This rich source of data includes information on many elements: from the conditions of the atmosphere, to physical formations; from small scale to gigantic formations; extremes of heat and cold; and the interaction of all these in time and space. Additionally, the models, visualisations and explanations of these phenomena by scientists can include aesthetic characteristics that are appreciated by a wider audience than immediate scientific peers. When we are concerned with digital environments, the discussion is most often centred on visualisation, which includes reference to both objects with a material or physical existence and to mental constructs. These can be directly observable or become visible through an instrument or device. Visual characteristics can also be translated from a non-visual state into constructed data, as a ‘conceptual’ translation. Using examples related to the earth sciences, this presentation will first discuss the ways in which creative works demonstrate the movement of ideas and concepts from the physical to the digital. Then, examples of works that take us from the digital to the physical will be considered that make specific reference to geology, studies of rock formations and technologies supporting mining activities. This will include works that are engaged with related environmental, social and cultural issues. It is proposed that a study of these ‘translations’ to and from the digital to the material can open up further possibilities for providing a critique of new media works in the context of a broader historical perspective, including land art, ecology and environmental activism.
- Suzette Worden is Professor of Design in the School of Design and Art, Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia. She completed her PhD in 1980 and taught the history of design at the University of Brighton until 1998. She was Director of a digital media research centre at the University of West of England, Bristol (1998-2001). She has published on furniture, product and appliance design, research methods, digital media and the uses of electronic resources for teaching and research. She has also co-curated exhibitions and been involved in the organisation of conferences including CADE (Computers in Art and Design Education) in 1995 and 2007. Her current research interests relate to West Australian resources, including mining, aluminium and wool under the theme of materiality and design. This research links the ongoing potential of digital media with craft and design cultural heritage, material culture and science technology studies.