Enter technology | Enter art | Enter perspective

By Amanda Egbe


Enter3 is an international festival of science, art and new technologies. Hosted in Prague over 4 days at the beginning of November, this third incarnation of the event organised by CIANT the International Centre for Art and New Technologies was a festival devised of three interwoven strands. The main element being a series of performances, exhibitions and screenings, this ran alongside an international conference called MutaMorphosis concerned with challenging arts and sciences, and was part of the 40th anniversary celebrations of the foundation of the arts and technology journal Leonardo. The final strand was the staging of the first retrospective of the rocket scientist and pioneering light-kinetic artist Frank J. Malina's work.

One instance of this changing perspective was the work of Scott HesselsCelestial Mechanics. Hessels highlights that “at any given moment, there can be 30,000 man-made objects in the sky above us: planes, helicopters, satellites, weather balloons, space debris, and other diverse technologies”. These objects all emit information, and in a fantastical display of lights Hessels work communicates the paths, networks and trajectories of these objects that float above us in the sky, the observer is subjected to a cacophony of data, illuminating a screen. What is dynamic about Hessels projections is that they are designed to be screened in Planetarium domes. The viewer, is no longer obliged to sit in front of a cinema, TV or computer screen, rather they lay back viewing the dome from the ultimate sedentary state. Lying flat the aerial perspective dominates, Paul Virilio has written on how the artists point of view is guided now by flight, by ascension, when in the past, especially in the case of cinema, it was the locomotive. For Hessels visualising the huge amounts of data, the paths of LAPD helicopters, or the Air Traffic over the US can best be perceived through the domed planetarium projection, rather than as a screen saver, or as single screen projections, though the work can be viewed these ways.

Hessels work highlights one of the main areas for the collaboration of art and science that was readily on show throughout the Enter3 Festival. Art and in particular the moving image is being employed largely to better express scientific ideas. There were mundane examples of this collaboration in works like Primate Cinema, which through split screen highlighted the behaviour of primates in the world with a film noir re enactment by actors of mating rituals. In this piece, neither film as a practice or the role of science is challenged beyond its usual boundaries. However, works like Intermittent by Florian Grond & Claudia Robles mark the shift to generative art works in the realm of art and science collaborations. Intermittent attempts to go beyond a video loop, the image of oscillating melted slag, along with the sound are controlled by a dynamic system, the algorithm behind the projection creates for the viewer an unsettling visual that contracts and undulates along with the sound within a pattern that you are constantly trying to resolve but never can.


An evocation of this fusion of art and science that goes beyond just a visualisation of scientific phenomena is Fugue by Gordana Novakovic, an interactive installation of the human immune system. The viewer is transported into the workings of one of the most essential processes of the body in real time. The artificial immune system software produces an ever changing emergent image of the workings of the immune system, the viewer is taken out of their sedentary spectator position, the system senses their presence and movement, causing the software to change its behaviour, modulating both the sound and image. For the participant the feeling is at times overwhelming, concerting and disconcerting. You quickly become immersed in the behaviour of the system, the visuals and the sound, your perspective is skewed by the knowledge that your behaviour is affecting what you see. It is this product of collaboration that hints at a more intuitive dynamic perspective. In viewing the world, with new tools we become aware in works like Fugue, of the changing and challenging environment that is emerging with technology, and the possibilities for alternative ways of seeing, and producing images that are immersive, embodied and interactive. In this environment, the moving image ceases to be just a vision machine.

Ways of seeing are here very much tied into ways of creating, and the retrospective of the work of Frank Malina point-line-universe gave a fresh perspective into the history of some of the art and science collaborations that are emerging at present, and were on display at the Enter3 festival. It also gave an insight into the prospect for alternative approaches in the visual field. As a proponent of kinetic art, his work explored from the outset the idea of technology as a tool, and that the world was knowable, and that knowledge was communicable. The retrospective shows his struggle to find the materials that could best demonstrate three dimensional spaces. So the early paintings give way to works using string and wire, until finally the use of a rear projection system, where light was used behind two layers, or moving discs rotors, to allow for a slow movement of light. Standing in front of a Malina work, the sense of time shifting is immense; you are drawn into a perception of space that seems limitless. The exhibition at Museum Kampa drew you into a world that was entirely of Malina's making, but that expressed beautifully and effortlessly certain principles of the known world, as abstractions, metaphor and experiences. Alongside the work, you could also sit quietly reading the collection of Leonardo journals, the publication founded by Malina 40 years ago.


The Enter3 festival with its busy mix of conference, exhibitions, screenings and performances displayed some of the divergent issues of concern for the art & science community. One of those areas of interest is the way in which new technologies, new techniques and the role the moving image is becoming the prime tool of communication and dissemination for these possibilities and discoveries in technoscience, as well as how image production itself is a subject of this development and transformation. There were many aspects of moving image technology that were on display at Enter3 like Machinima films, or works that used morphing technologies, but these developments suggest a mass media appeal, like CGI technology they rarely offer a distinct, or challenging exposition of perception. However, in the works of Frank Malina through the point-line-universe retrospective, Scott Hessels' Celestial Mechanics, or Gordana Novakovic's Fugue the Enter3 festival showcased the ways in which science, technology and art could be used to free up creativity, and produce divergent ways of seeing.

Enter3 international festival for art, science and new technologies took place in various locations across Prague, between 8 November 2007 and 11 November 2007.

Amanda Egbe is a London based film maker and artist.