On Synchronics is a media project created by Claudia Hart in collaboration with 24 of her former and current students at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. It was made with a grant from the Shapiro Center for Research and Collaboration, initially for the network of public media billboards of the Streaming Museum and in dialog with its director, Nina Colosi. It is now serving as both stage set and inspiration for Avatars Live, a fashion show cum opera with an original score by Edmund Campion.
ON SYNCHRONICS: A media project for Times Square
Like a technological fairy tale, On Synchronics was first envisioned as a collaborative project taking the form of a giant digital body spanning the globe. This body was imagined to be a personification of ideas about collectivity and the international as interpreted and reinterpreted by 24 voices from around the world, current and former students of Claudia Hart, contemporary media artist and professor of Experimental Animation at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
In this work, a virtual character attempted to break out of the digital realm to connect with the real world. It was inspired by an historic work from the Italian Renaissance, Michelangelo’s Slaves - his unfinished sculptures in which an agonized figure struggles to escape the confines of the marble material. Like the Michelangelo figures, the avatars from On Synchronics struggled to preserve their autonomy and humanity in a contemporary world all too often alienating, media saturated and unnervingly technological.
To do this, On Synchronics brought together different ideas about individual identity —expressed by animation, video and finally by live performance — into a patchwork quilt created by 24 unique artistic voices. Each artist’s interpretation mutates fluidly, one to the next, across a continuous movement sequence. In this animation, many individual characters merges into a single global body, performing one unified, poetic choreography in which a digital avatar heroically wrestles to escape the confines of the artificial computer world an emerge into the unpredictable flow of reality.
On Synchronics: A Collaborative Artwork
by Claudia Hart with 24 former students from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Developed by the Streaming Museum
PARTICIPATING ARTISTS: Nadav Assor, Israel, MFA, ATS 2011; Sophie Barrett-Kahn, England/Australia,MFA, ATS 2013; Rhys Bevan, USA, BFA, 2011; Lauren Elder, USA, BFA 2012; André and Evan Lenox, BFA 2012; Miao Jiaxin , China, MFA, Photo 2011; Lantian Xie, Dubai/China, MFA, FVNMA 2012; Brook Jonquil, USA, MFA, ATS 2011/ Yara Travesio, USA/Cuba; Brian Khek, USA, BFA 2012; Peter Kusek, USA, MA/MFA, VS/FVNMA 2013; Michael Mallis, USA, MFA, FVNMA 2011; Mikey McParlane, USA, MFA, FVNMA 2012; Shane Mecklenburger, USA, MFA, FVNMA 2010; Harold Moss, USA/Negin Sharifzadeh, IRAN, BFA 2008; Katie Torn, USA, MFA, FVNMA 2012; Diana Torres, Columbia, MFA, FVNMA 2012; Nancy Tien, USA/Taiwan, MFA, Performance 2011/Wesley Wilson, USA, MFA, ATS 2011; Yefeng Wang, China, MFA, ATS 2012; Jason Williams, USA, BFA, 2013; Jihoon Yoo, Korea, MFA, ATS 2012; Vicky Yen, Taiwan, MFA, FVNMA 2012
Iris van Herpen is young fashion designer from the Netherlands know for her embrace of contemporary high technologies, from new materials to advanced, computer-controlled production techniques. Her approach is sculptural and experimental and in the tradition of body-artist fashion designers such as the late Alexander McQueen whose theatrical, performative approach she has learned from.
Van Herpen is our point of departure. Although we imagine the avatar fashion we will produce for Avatars Live to be more personal, funkier and more irregular than Van Herpen’s – meaning more on the side of art then on the side of fashion design.
A standard C N C router has cut this dress, the type of computer controlled cutter that we will also employ. Our version, however, is the new, state of the art MCor Iris, a four-color 3D printer that uses standard office paper as a medium, recently purchased by The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Iris Van Herpen is the known as the first fashion designer to create “rapid prototyped” 3D printed fashion, and what is viewed here is a dress using printed elements. We will follow suit to be the first performance opera to create 3D printed avatar fashion.
Avatars Live has been supported by The 3D Printer Experience, a young Chicago start up with SAIC alumni proprietors, among them Holly Holmes, Sculpture 2012, and her husband SAIC professor Tom Burtonwood. This rapid prototype production company has been sponsored by venture capitalist contributors, Robert Schouwenburg, Mike Vasquez and Jeff Steele and will collaborate with theAvatars Live team to produce dimensional, reproducible fashion the way a copy machine might duplicate pictures.
Iris van Herpen.
Here is another example of 3D printed, “rapid prototyped” fashion by Iris van Herpen. This one shows the intricate organic form and inverted relationship of negative to positive space (meaning more void than solid), heretofore impossible with pre digital production methods.
Iris van Herpen’sVoltage Spring Summer Collection 2013 fashion show. In this show she uses a “new” material with embedded LED laser light on a flexible fabric support, allowing the models to shoot laser beams from their heads in a fantastic display.
Avatars Live will be similarly spectacular and theatrical, using experimental stage lighting, including flicker and strobing, to elicit unique effects from new materials embedded with metallics and opalescents.
Hussein Chalayan Fall/Winter 2013
In his recent Fall Winter 2013 show, Chalayan shows the possibilities of strobe lighting and new materials which seem to mutate and transform fluidly due to their combining super flexibility with weight and a dramatic ability to fracture lights and create prism-like caustic effects.
Hussein Chalayan Spring Summer 2009 Runway details.
Hussein Chalayan is another fashion designer known for his innovative use of the new metal-embedded materials. In this dress, from his Spring Summer 2009 collection, he uses dramatic lighting and a wire armature to create an optical effect only possible with flexible metals. The works in Avatars Live will exploit similar materials.
Hussein Chalayan, Fall/Winter 2012 Fashion show.
In this show by Chalayan from 2012, he used sensor-driven interactive animation software to track the live models and trace an animated graphic around their silhouettes, as well as using sound similarly activated by the models’ movement.
Avatars Live would likewise impliment animation in “real time,” using motion sensors to respond to performers’ behavior.
Thierry Mugler origami dress.
Mugler was one of the first “extreme” experimental fashion designers from the eighties. He created the paradigmatic origami dress when it was an act of equally extreme, low-paid manual labor. Contemporary new technologies permit such algorithmic mathematically engendered folded pattern making to be created by machine and in more exaggerated and elaborate ways.
Please click the arrow on the right to see Björk in Bea Szenfeld.
The new School of the Art Institute art MCor Iris, the four-color 3D printer that uses standard office paper as a medium, permits the creation of such algorithmic aggregates - or any other sculptural form as flexible paper fashion - by Avatars Live artists.
Elisa Strozyk: Wooden Textiles.
Elisa Strozyk uses a first-generation CNC router to transform hard wood into a flexible mesh, a wooden “fabric,” permitting a symbolic transformation and mutation of a human wearing it into something crystalline and impossible.
Avatars Live artists will similarly employ the CNC router, a rapid prototype printer and metallic, luminescent materials to perform similar feats of transformation – an act of high-tech, contemporary alchemy.