An exhibition of interactive artworks by Golan Levin (US) is presented for the first time in Finland in Kiasma Mediatheque.
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About Golan Levin
Golan Levin is an artist and engineer interested in exploring new modes of reactive expression. Through performances, digital artifacts, and virtual environments, Golan applies creative twists to digital technologies that highlight our relationship with machines, make visible our ways of interacting with each other, and explore the intersection of non-verbal communication and interactivity.
Levin’s work combines equal measures of the whimsical, the provocative, and the sublime in a wide variety of online, installation and performance media. He is known for the conception and creation of Dialtones: A Telesymphony , a concert whose sounds are wholly performed through the carefully choreographed dialing and ringing of the audience’s own mobile phones, and for interactive information visualizations like The Secret Lives of Numbers  and The Dumpster , which offer novel perspectives onto millions of online communications. Previously, Levin was granted an Award of Distinction in the Prix Ars Electronica for his Audiovisual Environment Suite  interactive software and its accompanying audiovisual performance, Scribble . Other projects from recent years include Re:MARK , Messa di Voce , and The Manual Input Sessions , developed in collaboration with Zachary Lieberman, and Scrapple  and Ursonography ; these performance and installation works use augmented-reality technologies to create multi-person, real-time visualizations of their participants’ speech and gestures. Levin’s current projects, such as Opto-Isolator  and Double-Taker (Snout) , employ interactive robotics and machine vision to explore the theme of gaze as a primary new mode for human-machine communication.
Levin received undergraduate and graduate degrees from the MIT Media Laboratory, where he studied in the Aesthetics and Computation Group. Between degrees, he worked for four years as an interaction designer and research scientist at Interval Research Corporation, Palo Alto. Presently Levin is Director of the STUDIO for Creative Inquiry and Associate Professor of Electronic Time-Based Art at Carnegie Mellon University, where he also holds Courtesy Appointments in the School of Computer Science and the School of Design. His work is represented by the bitforms gallery, New York City.
Artworks presented at Kiasma Mediatheque
Reface [Portrait Sequencer] (Golan Levin and Zachary Lieberman) is a surreal video mash-up that composes endless combinations of its visitors’ faces. Based on the Victorian “Exquisite Corpse” parlor game, the Reface installation records and dynamically remixes brief video slices of its viewers’ mouths, eyes and brows.
Reface uses face-tracking techniques to allow automatic alignment and segmentation of its participants’ faces. As a result, visitors to the project can move around freely in front of the display without worrying about lining up their face for the system’s camera. The video clips recorded by the project are “edited” by the participants’ own eye blinks. Blinking also triggers the display to advance to the next set of face combinations.
Through interactions with an image wholly constructed from its own history of being viewed, Reface makes possible a new form of inventive play with one’s own appearance and identity. The resulting kinetic portraiture blends the personalities and genetic traits of its visitors to create a “generative group portrait” of the people in the project’s locale.
Eyecode is an interactive installation whose display is wholly constructed from its own history of being viewed. By means of a hidden camera, the system records and replays brief video clips of its viewers’ eyes. Each clip is articulated by the duration between two of the viewer’s blinks. The unnerving result is a typographic tapestry of recursive observation.
Merce’s Isosurface, 2009
Four artists ― Brian Knep, Golan Levin, Casey Reas and Sosolimited ― were invited to independently re-purpose Merce Cunningham’s dance performance data into new digital forms. The source of the data was the LOOPS project (2001-2008), a digital portrait of Merce Cunningham by artists Marc Downie, Shelley Eshkar and Paul Kaiser. Motion capture information of Cunningham’s performance has been released as open source data by the Cunningham Foundation and OpenEnded Group (the artists’ organization) for this purpose. The LOOPS project is funded by the LEF Foundation; the four remixes were commissioned by the 2009 Boston Cyberarts Festival.
Merce’s Isosurface (2009: Golan Levin remixing Merce Cunningham + OpenEnded Group) returns a mortal coil to the disembodied datapoints of Merce Cunningham’s LOOPS performance. Here, the digitally captured coordinates of Cunningham’s fingers and knuckle joints are used to structure a smooth field of simulated energy. The result is a twitchy, fleshy blob, animated by Cunningham’s own movements, which dances in the liminal territory between pure abstract form and medical information visualization.