Artists Statement

Interactive multimedia installation, 2016. 3D printed, projection mapped

MASK 臉譜”…Electronic media exemplifies the dual meaning of revolution: to always create new while returning to the old. In this dynamic, where multiple centers and margins compete for attention, and borders to be transgressed are shifting, paradigms and practices must be replaced, repackaged and re-appropriated to keep up with the parallel evolution in art, creativity, culture, society, and politics.
ISEA2016 statement

One of the oldest forms of colour articulation in complex dynamic performance media is the Cantonese Opera. All aspects of costumes, texture, masks and form are geared together to create a total work of art. Characters are articulated through elaborate colour coding, communicating mental state, behaviour, status and role. Such complex narrative materiality and communication is comparable with the transdisciplinary approach of cybernetics – one of constructed communication feedback loops in closed systems. Taking the local specificity of the opera’s rich history, we speculate on a new form of storytelling and non-linear performance. In the opera, characters are based on notated behaviors and roles, articulated through elaborate costumes and colour coding indicating mental state, behavior and character. The colours are static and so is the narration.
MASK (臉譜) takes the static codification and translates the narration and character development into a dynamic, reactive and cybernetic system of conversation. The work is the design of a continuous conversation between two protagonists of the Chinese Opera. It takes the form of an interactive installation with two newly designed 3D printed masks are augmented by the means of chemical and biological agents as well as 3D reactive projection mapping. Each of the augmentations is reactive and environmentally controlled. Each of the reagents has a particular time span to change colour, from the instant change of a projection map, the intermediate reaction of polychromatic pigments to the slow change of bioluminescent bacteria or slow growing crystallisations. The mask here is object and condition at the same time. The reaction of the mask is recorded, played back and looped, creating a 2nd layer of influencing input, suggesting the layered repetition in the opera. stimulating and inhibiting the crystalline growth.
Using 3D projection mapping, that as a source takes the recordings from the biological augmentation as well as the polychromic stimuli, allows the audience to interactively stimulate the masks behaviour up to the point of chemically altering its shape through the precipitation of Aluminium potassium Sulphate – the curing of the mask in its disfiguration. The narration culminates and form is lost for chemical augmentation and change. The extreme time spans from the instantaneous colour changing of the pixels in the LED matrix of the projector to the long curing of the mask using crystalisation are only able to be seen as a process and never as a whole-similar to the momentous perception of the enacted Opera.

The work was partially supported by a grant from City University of Hong Kong (Project No. 6000549).

Tobias Klein: installation, Space Popular (Lara Lesmes Fredrik Hellberg): notational drawings, Xiaobin Liu: visualisation support

  • TOBIAS KLEIN (UK) works in the fields of Architecture, Art, Design and interactive Media Installation. His body of work generates a syncretism of contemporary CAD/CAM technologies with site and culturally specific design narratives, intuitive non-linear design processes, and historical cultural references. Works are crossing disciplines from sculpture, media art, installations and architecture ranging from crowd-sourced phenomena such as the work ‘virtual sunset’, the artificial environmental reactive growth of crystals in 3D printed substrates and his work on the translation of craftsmanship in the digital context through re-articulation of cultural archetypical objects within digital embodied environments generated by the use of medical datasets from Magnetic Resonance Imaging. All bear testament to the role of architecture today as more than designer, but cultural agitator and the creator-craftsman between automatic mechanization and poetic creation. kleintobias.com
  • FREDRIK HELLBERG & LARA LESMES are practicing architects who through their work with at Space Popular ltd and the undergraduate design studio Tools for Architecture explore experience driven design methods and new holistic approaches to construction systems in a variety of media. Their work also explores narrative driven art and architecture though projection mapped sculptures and installations in pieces such as “The Visceral Intricacies of Magister Ludi’s Archetypes” which was exhibited at Sto Werkstatt in London, UK. Together Hellberg and Lesmes explore new ways to exist and interact in virtual space through speculative projects such as “The Cloud of Resilience” where the world’s death mortality rates can be visualised and explored both through three dimensional diagrams and via fully immersive virtual scenarios.spacepopular.com

Full Text and photo p. 162-164