Out-googling Google

“One day we had a conversation where we figured out we could just try to predict the stock market. And then we decided it was illegal. So we stopped doing that.” –Eric Schmidt*

What does the internet look like?

We’ve all seen the blue hologram-like mazes representing the “information super highway”. As much as vfx artists and animators conjure up visualizations of the web, very few have actually seen how the internet (or what actually stores and connects data) looks like: massive server farms entangled with cables, pipes and steel. And it seems that internet giants (like Google) want to keep it that way. Other than the obvious security concerns, perhaps it’s not that flattering for their image to see the physicality of the network, in it’s cruel unflattering daylight.

John Gerrard, an Irish-born artist, is keen on seeing what the internet actually looks like, and he followed this question up by checking out one of Google’s server farms himself (the one in Oklahoma), wanting to create a piece; a digital portrait, of the internet from the outside.

After a long back-and-forth email exchange with Google, he was denied access to the farm. It’s interesting how we can see every street on earth with Google maps, have Google Earth, yet when someone wants to take a photo of the street where Google’s farm is, it’s out of bounds. Following the cops’ advice of “hey, the air is free”, Gerrard hired a chopper and photographed the farm from above. The sight was quite sobering, reminding him of a pig farm.

These images (2500 of them) where then used to create a hyperrealistic virtual portrait in 3D; a digital sculpture (powered by a game engine) of the real data farm. This piece, titled Farm, was just exhibited at the Thomas Dane Gallery in London.

The whole process and the piece itself makes me wonder about the desert of the real. The internet does not come out of “nowhere”. For it to exist and function there needs to be a physical container. And the same goes for our devices, ending up most often than not in landfills after a few years.

When the answer to a simple question as how does the internet look like can “legally” be answered by creating an immersive simulation in order for everyday people to see it, it makes me think that digital artists are asking the most interesting questions.

 

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Images by John Gerrard. 

The Guardian’s in-depth article about Farm can be found here.

 

*when talking on Google trends. Reinventing Discovery, p. 95.

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Visuelt catalog

I am very honored to have my Master’s project published on Visuelt”s catalog. It was released at Visuelt’s exhibition and included the award’s winners and nominees.

This year’s edition was designed by Bjelke+Yang. Below are some pages from the interaction design section.

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Visuelt exhibition 2015

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Celebrating the best work in design (interaction, illustration, moving image and graphic design), Grafill organized, once more, the annual exhibition for Visuelt. This time around, the classic prize went to Jason (John Arne Sæterøy).

I am very flattered to have had my work exhibited among great projects!

The exhibition was up at R21 gallery from November 27th until the 8th of January of this year. You can read more about the exhibition here.

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Visuelt Gold!

Taking the prize home.

Taking the prize home.

I’m very happy and honored to have won Gold at the Visuelt Awards this year! This (top) prize is for my Master’s project Stardust in the interaction design (student work) category.

I attended the ceremony which was held on October 17th at Sentrum Scene in Oslo. It was a meeting point for people in the design and advertising industry in Norway (and as I found out that evening, the awards are the biggest in the North/Northern Europe regarding design and advertising). I must say I have never been to the Visuelt ceremony before, so I was exited and overwhelmed in equal measure. The Awards were hosted by Jon Almaas (who hosts a TV night show here called Nytt på Nytt) and included the intense, colorful musical performance of Nils Bech.

Here are the jury’s comments:

“Dette er nettopp det man skal bruke studietiden til; eksperimentere, utforske og leke med mulighetene. Her våger studenten å gå langt utover sitt eget fagområde. Bruk av sensorikk, projeksjon og bevegelse gjør dette til en spennende installasjon med et poetisk tilsnitt. Her er det rom for å utforske videre. Godt og omfattende dokumentasjonsarbeid.”

And video:

You can see some pics of the awards and the seminar here, and a mention of the prize in my former college’s website (Kunsthøgskolen i Oslo) here.

My work can be seen on the Visuelt winner’s website, and you can explore the interaction design category here.

Thank you to Grafill, Visuelt and the jury members!

A big shout-out to the openframeworks community for sharing and allowing us students to learn and join the front lines.

Special thanks to Pete, Joel, Lise, Maz, Eirik and my wonderful classmates.

Some fancy pictures...

Some fancy pictures…

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Below are some photographs of the award ceremony at Sentrum Scene in Oslo:

The venue.

The venue.

Visuelt Awards. Photo by Espen Schive.

Visuelt Awards. Photo by Espen Schive.

Nils Bech at Visuelt Awards. Photo by Espen Schive.

Nils Bech at Visuelt Awards. Photo by Espen Schive.

Nils Bech at Visuelt Awards. Photo by Espen Schive.

Nils Bech at Visuelt Awards. Photo by Espen Schive.

The statuettes. Photo by Espen Schive.

The statuettes. Photo by Espen Schive.

Picking up the award, diploma and the fat check. Photo by Espen Schive.

Picking up the award, diploma and the fat check. Photo by Espen Schive.

Party time! Photo by Espen Schive.

Party time! Photo by Espen Schive.

 

The prize mentioned in Kunsthøgskolen i Oslo’s website

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and Visuelt’s winner’s gallery.

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…and the nominees are:

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I am very happy and honored to announce that the Stardust project got a nomination for Visuelt awards under the interaction design (student) category!!! Yay!

Visuelt is an annual event for the creative industry in Norway. It consists of a two day seminar, prize award, a party and an exhibition. They also produce a beautiful catalog with the work nominated/awarded work. It is a great meeting point for the industry! I’ve attended the seminar and loved it.

The awards give tribute to visual communication work in Norway. You can find more about it here.

The winners will be announced at the award ceremony here in Oslo in October!

Looking forward to it!

Here is a link to the Stardust project as well as some images below.

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The nominees list (interaction design category).

The nominees list (interaction design category).

The annual catalog. Here is the 2013 edition. Photo: Bjelke&Yang.

The annual catalog. Here is the 2013 edition. Photo: Bjelke&Yang.

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Luminous accidents

 

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Here are some “accident” images while making the installation Luminous Forest.

Sometimes the best shots are when something unexpected happens.

My favorite is the one above, a light rainbow!

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Luminous Forest installation process


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This installation blends analog (an overhead projector and shadows created on it) and digital (the capture of the image from the projector and projecting it in the opposing wall).

The result is an immersive installation where you can play with the light and shadows on the space surrounded by this luminous forest, while someone else plays with your shadow, but from the overhead projector, enhancing the shadows there and making them big enough to chase you (for instance) on the “luminous forest” space.

We played around with mirrors and their reflection (even with a mirror ball!) but decided to keep it more simple and use just the reflection from the overhead projector instead.

Here are some process images of the making of Luminous Forest.

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Testing out reflections:

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And here are some test images…

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…and the final result.

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*I’d love to explore this idea further, and have a camera track in real time the overhead projector shapes and project that onto the adjacent 2 walls in real-time.

In collaboration with Annelise Bothner-By.

Here are more images of the installation in its final form.

Below is a video of me setting up the forest cut-outs on the overhead projector.

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Shadow Genie light tests

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I took some pictures playing around with the colored filters for the Shadow Genie installation.

Here are a couple of them:

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Shadow Genie process

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In collaboration with Annelise, we created an installation made with found objects. We wanted to explore how the layering of objects in a space can create both depth in the arrangement of the objects, and a surprising image as the shadow of all these objects combined.

At first it seemed an easy idea, just to pile up random objects and focus on the shadows they produce, but it ended up being a more complicated endeavor. The different materials give different degrees of opacity, and for them to stay still on a fixed place resulted a challenge as well. We used fishing thread to hang objects from the ceiling, and also to tie objects together. We worked with textures (wrinkling paper) and transparencies (using colored filters). The resulting image was a sort of genie coming out of a kettle.

I found it very interesting to work with space and depth when placing the objects, but simultaneously to have my eyes fixed on the shadows they produced and the image we wanted to create with the shadows. It felt like thinking in 2D and 3D simultaneously, 2D with my eyes, 3D with my hands.

We had a lot of fun working in this project and below are some of our process images.

Concept sketch

Concept sketch

Shadow test

Shadow test

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And the final result:

 

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Here are more images of the Shadow Genie installation.

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RGBME Process

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Curious about light, color and shadows together with Birgitte and Annelise, we decided to explore our movement with additive light. We used photo filters in red, green and blue paired with spotlights to create our sources of “colored light!. We then directed them towards a white wall, and by adding these RGB lights we got the color white in the center of the light beams on the wall.

When standing there, colorful shadows appear and we got an instant analog interactive installation. Although I have seen this effect in museums (Teknisk Museet in Oslo, for instance) it never gets old. There is something about the diffuse quality of the light that gives it a nice atmospheric effect. I love how we got to explore our movements with the colored shadows, and lost track of time while playing with our own colored shadows.

Below are images of the process.

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Here are the final images, and you can find a test film below.

 

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