Andrea Polli

Mesa Del Sol Endowed Chair of Digital Media
Associate Professor, Fine Arts and Engineering
University of New Mexico, Albuquerque

The ISEA2012: Machine Wilderness symposium featured a large number of artists’ talks flowing through several days of the conference. These were brief artists’ presentations of current, groundbreaking projects in progress. As symposium organizers, we felt that it was important to include this freeform element to represent the diversity of practice in present international art, science and technology. Although artists’ works are discussed in detail throughout this publication, the three essays assembled here participated in the section of the symposium dedicated to artists’ talks. This ‘un-themed’ section included projects that cross the boundaries of the Machine Wilderness subthemes in a range of ways and address issues highly relevant to our transforming environment.

These selected essays share an interest in space, storytelling, and the human-built environment. For example, the work of Michael Borowski explores transforming urban living spaces through hybrid domestic objects. Familiar pieces of furniture or clothing take on a whimsical new function, one that usually requires some form of cooperation to function properly. On a very elemental level, Marco Pinter examines the ways in which we perceive the existence of virtual objects. He explores human perception and illusion through kinetic sculpture and digital media. His paper discusses his experiments with the kind of fragmented reality we all experience in our hybridized physical/virtual lives. Martin Reiser’s paper investigates interactive storytelling through the process of creating an interactive digital opera using iPads, which he created in collaboration with composer Andrew Hugill.

The final paper in this track is a discussion of the work of Hanna Hildebrand and Paul Wiersbinski, including their own words via a fascinating interview with Hildebrand by artist Nina DuBois. The SRSS project by Hanna Hildebrand and Paul Wiersbinski was included in the official ISEA2012 exhibition. Inspired by architect Yona Friedman’s utopian concept of the Spatial City and his technique of creating futuristic architectural models out of repurposed everyday materials such as cardboard cylinders, Hildebrand and Wiersbinski create workshops for various communities to conceive of, design, and build models of future cities.

I had the pleasure of working directly with Hildebrand when she was creating this work for the Albuquerque Museum. Over an intensive process that lasted only a few days, she worked with some of my students from the University of New Mexico and with local high school students and their instructor to identify problems in Albuquerque and design possible solutions. The resulting work, created entirely from found materials, expressed the visions of the diverse group in a dynamic hanging structure that not only presents the ideas but also tells multiple stories of the city of Albuquerque and its inhabitants.