Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Future Of Art? Viewers Affect Appearance Of Art On The Wall In Interactive Exhibit

''The Pixel's Habitat: From Code to Line'' is part of the Manofim project that opens the exhibition season in Jerusalem

Static image of an animation that will be altered by human interaction

Photo: The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

A new interactive art exhibition opens today at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem to mark the start of the 2012-13 academic year. ''The Pixel's Habitat — From Code to Line'' incorporates computer programming and audience participation to join the worlds of science and art in an ever-evolving process of two-dimensional animation. Visitors to the exhibit participate in making new virtual creations that are projected on the gallery’s walls and floors.

The exhibition, part of the Manofim project that kicks off the exhibition season in Jerusalem, is displayed in the Max and Iris Stern Gallery (small gallery) and the Bloomfield Library for the Humanities and Social Sciences on the Mount Scopus campus. Admission is free and it is open to visitors from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. from Sunday to Thursday through the end of February. More information is available at 02-5882940 or

The artist, Reuven Zahavi, uses computer code to create a community of ''agents'' — digital creatures, each of which has a number of characteristics that define their behavior in space, such as speed of movement and relations with others. Their characteristics differ from one agent to another and their placement in space creates a visual performance in which the agents meet amongst themselves and with the viewers. These encounters cause some of the original agents — a kind of genetic base — to disappear, and others to remain and undergo mutation. Thus a new generation is created which guarantees renewal of the population and an evolution of the work.

Visitors influence the exhibit through cameras installed in the area that record their movements and voices, and projects the information on the gallery's walls and floors. In this way, viewers become, knowingly or not, active partners who influence the scene — even if they stand still without moving.

''The interaction created with the viewer is like a person walking and dragging with him seeds, smells and materials, so that you have a simultaneous process of construction and deconstruction,'' says Zahavi. ''I want to encourage the creation of unexpected phenomena stemming from simple rules while using an array of algorithms.''

Zahavi is a senior lecturer at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem, in the Department of Jewelry and Fashion and in the Department of History and Theory. He completed his doctorate on the subject of artists' tools and strategies of creation in modern art at the Université Paris VIII in France. Exhibiting in Israel and abroad, he lives and works in Jerusalem.

The various projections, or habitats, are based on different themes. For example, the habitat ''Under-the-Skin/Underground” evolves in an environment that resembles something between the surface of the body and the surface of the ground. It simulates geological layering and the presence of invisible, motile under-the-skin/underground forces. The ''skin'' or ground surface is formed, stretched and continually developed through these underground forces and the action of tiny creatures that ceaselessly crawl, twist, etch or stain the surface, each marking it with its own specialty signature. The work, which is governed by code, develops in real time and displays the result of the relations between the forces moving below skin level as they respond to the tracks laid by the creatures moving above ground, as well as to the movement of spectators, which is captured by the camera.

The exhibit, which was curated by Michal Mor and designed and produced by Ron Yosef, was made possible with the support of the Hebrew University.

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