Beall Center Art and Technology

To celebrate its fifth anniversary, the Beall Center for Art and Technology plans to showcase an innovative exhibit titled ‘Five (5),’ which combines the works of five original artists’ groups from around the world: Keiko Takahashi and Shinji Sasada of Japan, Boutique Vizique of Belgium, Camille Utterback of the United States, Christa Sommerer and Laurent Mignonneau of Austria, and the Smart Studio of Sweden, to be showcased from Oct. 4 to Dec. 10.
The exhibit focuses on using interactive technology to explore human perception and contact, challenging viewers to question how much significance technology has in their own relationships. It also aims to stimulate the senses, asking viewers to engage themselves fully in each piece.
‘All of these works examine the human/machine interface and investigate the complex relationship between ideas and behavior,’ said Pamela Winfrey, curator of the San Francisco Exploratorium and guest curator for the Beall Exhibit, in her public statement.
Because of her familiarity with contemporary artists and their work, Winfrey came immediately to mind when Beall Center Director Elenore Stewart was choosing a curator for the event. From there, the two collaborated on selecting the artists they thought would best correspond with their idea of allowing guests to participate in the artistic works.
When asked about her reasoning behind choosing the theme for the exhibit, Stewart remarked, ‘I wanted something fun and playful that would appeal to all age groups, something that would not confine guests but instead allow them to become involved in the art.’
Each individual work explores the extent to which we are immersed in technology, and the impact of modern machinery on human relationships.
The projects are not without a sense of irony. ‘Brainball’ (1999), a two-player game involving a biosensor system, establishes the victor by measuring each player’s brain activity to determine the amount of alpha and theta waves, present when a person is most calm. In a world of competition and stress, this game challenges a new concept: learning to relax to win.
”Brainball’ is an interesting tool for learning how to control your mental states,’ Stewart remarked. ‘People have played this over and over, struggling to relax. It’s funny how competitive people can get if they want to win.’
The exhibit’s creator, the Smart Studio of Sweden, is composed of artists, architects, engineers and more, and is itself a part of the Interactive Institute.
‘Untitled 6’ (2005) is the sixth piece of the External Measures Series, which concentrates on pieces that respond to physical movement within the exhibit area. Camille Utterback, the project’s designer and a former painter, aims to completely immerse people in the work. By using a video camera set above the area, ‘Untitled 6’ changes the projected image to respond to the viewer’s motions, leaving one free to frolic within the exhibit area and witness how the movement elicits an aesthetic reaction on screen.
Viewing a depiction of one’s physical presence immediately in front of them raises an interesting question: Are we aware of our impact on others? By further exploring Utterback’s ‘living paintings,’ a breakthrough in the field of participatory art, we can get closer to finding an answer.
Although ‘Dustbunnies’ (2004) by Boutique Vizique, a Belgium design duo consisting of Hendrik Leper and Stijn Schiffeleers, may initially seem out of context, a closer examination of the objects reveals that the underlying idea