Michael Hohl

Artist Statement

Keywords:

Through background research of my own artistic practice I became aware of a complex relationship among contemporary art practices. This relationship reveals itself in distinct themes within telepresence art, visualization art (where data is often transformed to another sensorial modality and thus here referred to as Transformation Art), and art that engages in natural phenomena. These natural phenomena engage in topics such as the wind, weather, gravity or earthquakes, but also raise an awareness of time zones or geographical distances. All of these areas raise to a certain degree an awareness of the planet earth. In that respect we see the close relationship between telecommunications, telematics, mapping and transformation technologies and an interest in different methods of creating an awareness for the physical world, our bodies and also our planet.

Telematic Art engages in two major disciplines. According to Eduardo Kac 1. it either connects people with people or facilitates communication among distant parties. As such it can be seen as Communication Art, where the act of communication becomes the art itself. In the second aspect telematic art connects us to a remote place through the use of remote data. This often involves this data being transformed into another sensorial modality, for example the vibrations of earthquakes into sound. Here Telematic Art overlaps with Visualization Art.

Transformation Art often involves visualizations such as transforming music into animated visuals, a process we know from plug-ins for mp3-players that react to parameters of the music in realtime. These processes of visualization or mapping are also often used to illustrate complex relationships in statistical or scientific data, as we see it in information architecture, charts and diagrams, sometimes animated sometimes static.

Global awareness art generally involves a raised consciousness of the planet earth that includes a focus upon nature. This may constitute an overview of the planet as a whole but can also emphasize different facets of global occurrences such as earthquakes or other natural activities. Some works emphasize distances, remote locations or the geography of the earth. Others use technology to engage us further with the natural process including weather, water, gravity, plant activity and bodily functions. Those works that directly engage us with the natural/physical world form a subcategory I would include into Global Awareness Art, although its appearance may be very different 2.

The area of emphasis, where Telematic Art, Transformation Art and Global Awareness Art overlap, we encounter a body of works that deliberately engages us in the sensual realms, connecting us to remote or indiscernible areas in the world, evoking within us a global consciousness, distinguished as a global awareness.

My own project consists of an unencumbered immersive telematic environment called Radiomap 3. created in collaboration with Stephan Huber. Radiomap is a large interactive map of the world projected upon the floor. People can walk upon this map and listen to a selection of live radio programs from all over the planet. The aim is to create a collective and holistic experience of exploration, surprise, longing and belonging, mediating between the individuals in the installation and the cultures of the broadcasting places, creating an intense presence and awareness that is expected to last beyond the active participation itself. It follows the ideas of Buckminster Fuller or Steward Brand in creating a sense of global awareness.

Michael Hohl Bio

Michael Hohl graduated in 2000 with a Masters in Digital Media Design from the University of the Arts, Berlin and also spent some time at the Köln international School of Design (KISD) in Cologne. He worked as a conceptionist in digital media from 1994 in various digital media companies in Berlin (PIxelpark, ArtCom, cityscope, imstall). In 2002 he relocated to the UK (after having lived for almost 10 years in Berlin). There he just completed his interdisciplinary PhD research into immersive telematic art and global consciousness at the Art & Design Research Centre at Sheffield Hallam University, UK.