[ISEA2016] Artist Statement: Don Ritter — Burning Too

Artist Statement

Media façade using video projection on Run Run Shaw Creative Media Centre, approximately 55×26 metres, 2016

“Burning Too” is a media façade to be presented on the Run Run Shaw Creative Media Centre at City University of Hong Kong. The main façade of the building (55 x 26 m) will be covered with video projections of fire. Humanity was highly dependent on actual fire for warmth, safety and food preparation during former eras, but fire for most people today is an aesthetic experience that provides feelings of warmth or romanticism. Although our feelings of comfort are likely to diminish when a fire becomes larger and more dangerous, we may still be attracted to it for various psychological reasons.

When we examine the mechanism of media we are pursuing an understanding of what media are, but when we examine the function of media we become aware of what media are doing. The mechanism of digital media art includes its technology, its content and any other descriptive features associated with it. The function of digital media art may often be difficult to recognize because a common perspective is that art has no function, or because more attention is being directed towards the mechanism of media: to the identity and exhibition history of the artist who created an artwork, to the cost of an artwork, or to the specific manufacturer of an artwork’s technology. I believe the common function of artworks created in any medium—including digital media art–is to promote an entity. Media of all types are essentially used to enhance the worthiness of specific concepts, persons or social institutions, and the specific entities being promoted are determined by the criteria we use for judging media. The history of my interest in the artistic use of digital media began with a focus on the mechanism of media, especially on using digital media to create large interactive installations controlled by live music, body motion or voice. Although I am still interested in the mechanism and artistic potential of digital media technologies, I am now primarily concerned with using these technologies to promote certain concepts. The specific hardware and software tools that I use are important from a practical perspective, but I am mostly interested in creating artworks that are reflective of peculiar human values or that promote positive human behaviors through depictions of certain concepts. aesthetic-machinery.com

Don Ritter: video editing, mapping
Mitch Martinez: additional footage
Cleo Song: production assistant

  • Don Ritter (USA) is an artist and writer who has been active in the field of media art since 1988. His interdisciplinary artworks and writings integrate fine art and digital media with aesthetics and ethics. Ritter’s immersive video-sound installations enable audiences to direct their experiences through body motion or voice, and his live performances and media façades present ultra high-definition video projections controlled by live music, sound, or body gesture. His most recent work includes large architectural projections based on the symbolism of fire and water, and metal prints resembling road signs that convey issues of morality, sustainability and ontology.  aesthetic-machinery.com/biography.html

Full text and photo (PDF) p. 242-243