Generativity    
 
  In Psychology “generativity” is a focus on future generations. In biology it refers to structures of proliferation. For Linguists it means “using rules to generate varying meaning from underlying, abstract forms.” A generative work of New Media art is one that uses coding to create varied, evolving meaning outside the creator’s direct control. These related definitions all seemed germane to Suyama Space and its history as an engine of creative growth. The precarious state of the natural world was also on my mind as I began work on Generativity last year. Environmentalist John Reuter introduced me to a palette of “generative” forms that appear again and again, as nature shapes itself. These “architectural” structures suggested a vocabulary and syntax with which to approach the space. In searching for a way to make work about the generativity of nature that didn’t contribute to its destruction, restoration and archiving became key studio processes. Ivy vines with their dentritic growth patterns (characteristic throughout nature) are big, beautiful and destructive. Properly removing them extends a tree’s life for many years. Vines I harvested and cleaned by hand became the big landmark gestures shaping space. Collecting native seeds and sounds, vital activities in preserving diversity, brought me into a physical intimacy with nature I hadn’t experienced since childhood. Archives of these seeds and sounds are housed in glass vials in a plethora of generative forms that hopefully evoke some of the marvel I felt collecting them. More than anything I want viewers to experience the connection to nature in their bodies. Sensual performance footage from choreographers Isabelle Choiniere and Linda K Johnson, suggest the animating principal “Eros,” and our inescapable entanglement with life’s proliferating forms. Entwined bodies fade in and out of imagery drawn from nature, at times mirroring the physical structures of the installation. A transparent scrim bisecting the gallery varies the layers of moving images visible from different positions in the space. Projections both appear on the scrim and pass through it, painting the floor and one end of the gallery with distorted echoes of the main scenes. This transparency, along with creative coding mixing the video in real time, produces an endless unpredictably, mirroring both nature’s generativity and the layering our minds produce in dreams.
     
Generativity; Phase 5 Performance    
  Choiniere, performers Tahni Holt, Juju and Lisa Kusanagi, Eliza Larsen and Lu Yim. Live programming by Kevin McDonald and Karim Lahkdar. Video projections by Fernanda D'Agostino.
     
The Method of Loci    
  My recent project is an example of how my installation work draws on different disciplines for its impact. The Method of Loci, takes the ancient system “Ars Memoriae” as the inspiration to create an interactive environment about memory. This version of the installation video documentation gives a more complete look at the overall installation, while the video is a bit more abbreviated. My interest in creating a physical analogy for memory began with the study of Giulio Camillo’s Theater of Memory, famous during the Renaissance but an ephemeral work now faded from public awareness. That interest is paralleled by a recent revival of interest in “Ars Memoriae” among computer engineers studying memory. In the installation were three separate channels of interactive video running from three MacPro computers, and several other channels of video running as loops on media players that animated the entire 2,700-square-foot gallery space of The Art Gym. The portable walls of the Gym and specially fabricated dual sided screen walls were used to divide the gallery into several distinct spaces that flowed into each other. Like the inner architecture of the “Ars Memoriae,” The Method of Loci had passageways, alcoves, rooms, hidden peepholes and niches. As viewers moved through darkened corridors into a series of rooms with various-scaled projections, the mood and scale changed. Programming in Max MSP Jitter and Arduino allowed the projections to respond differently to the presence of an attentive viewer than to a hurried passerby. As more attention was given, more layers of time were revealed. Some viewers spent hours exploring the space, reading the texts, climbing into a “life Giard’s chair” for a different vantage point in one room, or listening to a recorded voice on an old fashioned dial telephone in another. The ancients found that the more dramatic the image the more lasting the memory. The imagery chosen for The Method of Loci imagery underscored the dramatic albeit fragile and flickering qualities of memory and reality. Years of field recording and recent work commissioned from dancer/choreographer Linda K. Johnson formed an archive of dramatic loops to mix and remix, placed strategically in the different rooms of the multi-chambered space. Underwater recordings, ancient texts, centuries old fire rituals in the Italian countryside, faces in attitudes of contemplation, migrating cranes, and a burning house are examples of the dreamlike imagery of “The Method of Loci.” The Method of Loci investigates ideas that have driven Western culture for millennia using cutting-edge 21st century technologies.
   
     
Pool    
 
 

Mixed Media Installation with Interactive Video, 12’ x 14’ x 20’

Pool sets out to pair memory to place, drawing on the ancient mnemonic devices of the “Method of Loci.” A central image is choreographer, Linda Johnson, submerged underwater, looking directly back at the viewer as she contracts, glides, tumbles, and hovers in a watery amnion of blue. Interspersed are images of a full moon; a book that has caught fire; salmon swimming upstream; a burning house; botanical frescoes from the House of Livia ; and the words \"Ars Memoriae.\" The five channels of video combine and change in response to viewers presence and movement resulting in an open ended and shifting meaning. A viewer’s entry into the room initiates the program. Two motion sensors and two distance sensors select, mix and control four of the channels of video using custom software. The idea is to create an analogue for the idiosyncratic layering and juxtaposition that occurs in dreams, memories and stream of consciousness. Projection onto a seven foot in diameter aluminum pool creates an additional layer of depth. Viewers can get a different perspective on the installation from a five foot tall life guard chair. Pool investigates ancient ideas using 21st century technologies.

     
Intellectual Ecosystem    
Color Theory
 
  Portland State University Environmental Studies Professor John Reuter has called for the creation of new metaphors and the identification of characteristic patterns that will allow people to grasp the immensity of natural processes. In “Intellectual Ecosystem” the metaphor of the ecosystem is adapted as a way of capturing the intertwining strands of research and thought that characterize the modern university and its relationship to the city.
Video projections on the glass façade of the University Academic and Student Recreation Center reinforce the University’s identity as an institution at the cutting edge of contemporary computer science and digital communication. The moving images animate the plaza, engaging both students and the public that passes through campus on the streetcar or that come to PSU for events, reinforcing the identity of PSU as a source of energy and activity in the city.
A high powered projector controlled by a dual-graphic processor allows content to recombine in an endlessly variable program. One hundred preset transformations are available with the dual processor. Combined with creative video editing in Adobe Premiere and After Effects, the result is a constantly changing ephemeral display that both reflects the PSU community and juxtaposes images in a way that stimulates the creative connection of ideas. Reflecting the way ideas inform each other in a university community is a primary goal of “Intellectual Ecosystem”
The University chose to focus all project resources on creating the largest possible Da-Lite Holoscreen display, on developing content and on providing the most possible variation in how the content combines and recombines. The projections rely only on editing and content for their effects. The overall look of the video has been crafted to fit the University’s desire to work with a large unified projection surface.
     
Celestial Navigation    
 
 

Celestial Navigation; 2009

SoundTransit, SeaTac Airport Plaza, SeaTac Washington

Stainless Steel and Glass Quadrant Sculpture;

Screen/Sculpture Dimensions: Height 18’ Width 9’ Depth; 5’

Custom Engineered Audio Visual System and Projector;

67 Minute long, non narrative video

Site Integrated Plaza design with Terrazzo and Bronze Paving inlays (City Block)

     
Motion Studies
Installation Footage
   
 

Motion Studies is also a video installation projected on sculptural screens. The footage is projected on a series of stainless steel and hand painted mylar “wings” suspended in the air. The wings respond to the slightest air current creating an analogue experience to Dr. Tobalske’s investigations of the role of air currents in birds’ flight. The video projections on translucent surfaces create an activated space that viewers can move around and through, giving them a physical experience of being “within the flock”.

 

     
Motion Studies    
 
  The desire to see beneath the surface of things that artists and scientists share has led to parallel developments between the two disciplines throughout history. Observation and experimentation are at the heart of both fields, and because of that artists and scientists are natural allies. Recent developments in specialized digital imaging systems in both fields have created an unprecedented ability to unravel the codes underlying the beauty and mystery of nature. Video installation artist Fernanda D’Agostino and Biomechanist Dr. Bret Tobalske have formed an alliance to create work which exposes new developments in our understanding of the physics of flight to a wider audience.
Motion Studies, investigates the intersection of Art and Science. The core of the project are actual motion studies from Dr. Bret Tobalske’s wind tunnel at the flight lab at the University of Portland. These flight studies are then translated into video at the lab and in D’Agostino’s studio. Motion Studies uses a fluid imaging system known as digital particle image velocimetry to examine the structure of the wake of flying birds. The power the flying bird puts into the air is revealed as a moving picture. The fluid dynamics of the air currents around the bird are made visible by the application of colors and grids that respond to the flow of air generated by the bird’s flight. At times this footage is a moving abstract painting, at other times the bird’s flight is more explicit. Combined with these images, is footage of bird mating dances & flights, shot during the migration of cranes along the Columbia River., and of Vaux Swifts returning to their roosts during their annual migration. This footage, which was shot on location with a slow motion, high definition camera, has also been altered by digital particle velocimetry. An interesting development in the collaboration came about as a result of experimenting with the possibility of altering footage shot in the wild using digital particle image velocimetry. When the footage of the flocking swifts was processed we discovered that some of the same principals of Fluid Dynamics apply to the patterns of movement within the flock as apply to the air currents produced by individual birds. This is an area of inquiry we hope to pursue in the future. The possibility of new areas of scientific inquiry emerging from artistic experimentation is very exiting.
A sound tract of digitally manipulated bird song accompanies the video.
Motion Studies is also a video installation projected on sculptural screens. The footage is projected on a series of stainless steel and hand painted mylar “wings” suspended in the air. The wings respond to the slightest air current creating an analogue experience to Dr. Tobalske’s investigations of the role of air currents in birds’ flight. The video projections on translucent surfaces create an activated space that viewers can move around and through, giving them a physical experience of being “within the flock”.
     
Living Calligraphy-Yichang    
 
Living Calligraphy combines digitally manipulated sound and video shot on location in Hubei Province, China with digital particle velocimetry analysis of flying birds. It is an impressionistic memory of my time in China in summer 2008.
 
 
© 2012 Fernanda D'Agostino