Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Condencing facts from the ripple of nuances

2013
Video/ kinetic installation
I Pad, 23”W TFT Color LCD screen, pumps, dc motors, steel, Plexiglas, water, typographical material  computer,audio speakers and custom software
































Video is unquestionable the most strongest (captivating) media in fine arts today but the enchantment of a moving image burns hot and short. I work with this media from a very strong sculptural perspective. I have been searching for a ways that video could enrich my work and decided that the combination of moving image and kinetic sculpture provides an interesting angle.

Kinetic art had its prime time in the 50th and 60th and has been considerable dormant for a long time after that. Lately it seems that many young sculptors are starting to pick up on kinetics again. One reason for that is the rapid development of user friendly soft and hardware components as well as the low costs to purchase electronically components to experiment with. Also artists like myself have developed their own kind of “Gypsy technology” whereby we cannibalize existing consumer electronics to make them useable in our art projects. It is possible to learn the basics in short time and find net communities that provide help and inspiration. Being independent from industry and outside expertise and the straight application to ones work make it fairly easy to integrate ideas of movement, light and sound to ones working process.
VIDEOKAFFE has been playroom for likeminded artist that challenged, cooperated, inspired and pushed each other into create something new and surprising.
Personally this unique exhibition concept has been one thrilling experience and I owe big time to the collaborating colleges as well as to Sebastian Ziegler the Curator of this event,

 Starting point for my work was an application for a smart phone. I have to say that I was a baby in this field and a prepaid phone of the most modest design had been sufficient for me. Suddenly finding myself in possession of this sophisticated gizmo, I searched for ways to make it work to my benefit and make my live easier.
As German having moved to Finland its naturally the language that creates boundaries.
So I was quite interested in this field. I found an application (no advertisement but you can find the name in the appendix) that recognizes printed words using optical character recognition and instantly translates these words into the desired language.
The words are displayed in the original context on the original background, and the translation is performed in real-time without connection to the Internet.
Once the program has identified letters, it calculates their rotation and the perspective from which the viewer is seeing them. Then it tries to recognize each letter by consulting a library of reference font sets. (This application was created to help tourists understand signs and menus, and is not 100% accurate). It’s a bit like starting to type into the goggle search field and with every added letter you get the suggestion of “ Do you mean this?”

At one day I was sitting at the waterfront of the marina in Vuosaari, killing time browsing to my apps and in a playful attempt I activated the upper mentioned app and directed the built-in camera of the phone to the sea. Sun was shining and a mild wind was rippling the surface of the water. A lot of contrast that day between the tops and valleys of the waves.
Suddenly the program was trying to read meaning to the random noise of the waves and words popped up in the display. The oracle like messages in the water mesmerized me for hours. This happened because the program runs the image through a filter to remove shadows. Text is sharp, so it removes whatever is not sharp and makes the image black and white, to help figure out where letters are. Still, these are black and white contrast that may or may not be letters. The unpredictable game is on. For VIDEOKAFFE I wanted to recreate a version of this captivating experience.

The original idea was to have a high-resolution wifi cam scanning the water surface of the nearby Aurajoki canal and have the program running its results by way of a beamer.
Time and budget were not favorable at this point so I decided to go for a more sculptural laboratory setting.
The Plexiglas pool (60x90x10 cm) inside the gallery contains app.40 liters of water.
Two pumps and two additional dc motor powered paddles kept the water in motion.
Hovering above is an adjustable arm that is holding an I tablet running the application
Its camera lens is pointed down at the pools water surface. The Tablet is linked by a hdtv cable to a wall mounted flat screen that shows its interface in bigger scale.
This set up was a purely theoretical approach and the results were meager.
What nature is really good at is to deliver a lot of visual noise and my little pool could not match it.
The next step I took was to add submersible plastic letters floating in the water.
These were partly traced but clogged the pump filtration system and collected in certain areas. Next approach was to have silicon molded floating letters. This created surprising results especially because the constant moving water surface distorted the textual content. The program now is running in a Mode that tries to translate from English into German. I hope that you can enjoy the results at this stage and I will surprise you with a more sophisticated version in near future but for now its Videokaffe -its fresh from the oven.

So having tried to explain my approach towards the underlying concept of the exhibition and the way this work developed I have to point out an additional aspect. The work at this particular exhibition had a soundscape that was created by the brasilian artis Fernando Visockis Macedo. This is his statement :

“My work is created, imagined and thought over sound. How to search for hidden sounds surrounding us and amplify it aesthetically; how to bring different sounds to the field of visuality; how to affect the spectators perception by playing and sculpting with such an abstract rich full material?
My research is then, in a wider sense, really close to translation somehow. That's why when Thomas first told me his idea about the installation, I could, on the very first moment, see a breach for adding a new layer without changing the concept of the work abruptly: translating into sound the same material that is being used for generating the text.For that I developed a code for Pure Data that seeks for the pixels with most luminance in a live webcam pointed to plexiglass. The ripples of the water keep on changing these pixels with most luminance, generating a great input for manipulating a synthesizer and for a sound sample collected from a water stream back in my country, translating a simple light variation into an abstract moving soundscape, a generative sound piece that reinforces and adds new context to the installation.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

KEKKU

Kekku
2013
Video/kinetic Installation
3 Screens, 3 Blueray players, DC Motor, Steel
300x60x40 cm



The work KEKKU was made for the exhibition “Terveisiä perheestä” (Greetings from the family), that took place at Gallery Huuto in August 2013. The exhibition dealt with issues revolving around family and the protagonists in the video footage are my wife, our daughter and I. 
The video shows certain body parts of us sitting on a swing. The vertical aliened screens show us swinging together. The whole set up itself swings back and forward by a DC motor.
The video footage is of different length and generates constantly surprising twists especially because the image freezes for some second in the end of the loop.
While we were shooting the scene we also realized that it actually was the first time that all three of us were on the playground together. It dont mean a thing if it aint got the swing.

Hand on Wire

 
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Hand On Wire

http://vimeo.com/67590727
2012
Video/kinetic sculpture
Motors, plasma TV, 16 m rail system, metal construction, HD box
2x HD video footage, vertical and horizontal filmed
Duration of single clip 02:40 min
-filmed at Suvilahti, Helsinki and Temppeliaukio, Helsinki
Performers; Thomas Westphal, Niklas Faupel
Electronical Expertise: Gregoire Rousseau
Mechanical Support: Federico Ortegon Perez






 
The starting point for this work was video material that I shoot in summer 2011 at the Suvilahti industrial ground and at Oksasenkatu in Töölö. Because of the different nature of these places the format was chosen to be vertical (Töölös narrow tall streetscapes) and horizontal (Suvilahtis wide industrial scenery). In both locations we see a hand ropewalking electricity lines between buildings.
The videos are shown on a large plasma screen that moves along a 16 m long rail system from one side of the gallery wall to the other. In the end points the screen rotates from vertical to horizontal position and vice versa. Actually this unusual twist originated from the fact that I work with video from the perspective as a sculptor. While shooting the video material on site I did not consider yet that the horizontal/vertical shift would become a difficulty later on. After all I am quite satisfied that the solution to this problem
became an important aspect of the final work.
The distance of the rail system is corresponding to the distance of the original settings. Also the pace of the moving hand in the video image matches the speed of the moving screen. I used two different motor systems, one for the spatial movement and the other for the smooth rotation of the screen. 
A motivating idea behind the installation was a playful concern with space. It became a stage on witch the activities may it be musical or physical performed. What I brought to the space was actually an object installation that was formally constructed through the filter of documenting. The relationship with time, bringing one thing to another, how the exhibition space acts not only as a space as a time dimension as a document somehow.  

Vertigo en el corazón- Vertigo in the heart

 
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Vertigo en el corazón- Vertigo in the heart

https://vimeo.com/68515329
2012
Video/kinetic sculpture
Motors, video projector, HD box, metal construction, wind engines
2x HD video footage (GoPro action cameras, body strapped)
Duration of single clip 02:45 min/ 00.06 min
-filmed at Alexanderplatz, Berlin
Base-jump and camera: Uli Westphal
Electronical support: Gregoire Rousseau



The starting point for this work was video material that I shoot in Berlin in September 2012. My location was the 120meter high Park Inn Hotel at the Alexanderplatz in the heart of the city.
The video consists of a skyline view of Berlin and a base-jump sequence. All video was shoot with handheld and body strapped/helmet mounted Gopro HD cameras.
For displaying the video I was building a projection screen (224x124cm) with a steady mounted video projector at the end of a cone shaped 3-meter extension. This whole segment is hanging on ball bearing hinges mounted to a solid steel foundation. The screen is motor controlled and can be moved from vertical 90° to 180° angel. It happens in regular intervals that are set by relays and two different timing devises.
In the vertical position it shows the skyline of Berlin with the remarkable TV Tower. The video is slightly shaking and protruding steel elements and cables in the image give a hint to the viewer that it is taking from some sort of platform or building roof. Two strong wind engines behind the screen create a slightly unsettling atmosphere. Every 01:40 min the screen goes into almost 180° position. During this process it shows the perspective of a person free falling down the building facade. (In this case my brother Uli Westphal, that filmed this with body strapped cameras). The jump was professional supervised.
The two video files 02:45 and 00:06 min are played from HD box and are triggered by sensors in the mainframe. The work has been running over a period of 2 weeks and worked flawless during this time. On request of visitors the interval time was changed from original 4 min down to 3 min and finally to 1:50 min which seems to be the common border of visitors patience.

Elevated Jam

  Elevated Jam
http://vimeo.com/67594577
2012
HD, single channel video on screen
Duration 01:35 min
-filmed at Suvilahti, Helsinki
Performer Son Pham




 
The video was filmed in the industrial setting of Suvilahti a former energy production area in Sörnäinen, Helsinki. It encompasses nine buildings and two large gasometers.
The idea was to explore the given architecture in an unusual visual and acoustic way.
I was cooperating with three members of the German progressive metal band TrueFalse
that visited me for two weeks and put their musical expertise to practice.
In Elevated Jam, the protagonist Son Pham is drumming on the steel hull of a giant gas clock. During the play he slowly elevates upwards and with the ascent also the acoustic properties of the building start to change. Reaching the top not only the scenery widens up to us but also the perception of the architecture as such.

Live Wire

 

Live Wire

http://vimeo.com/67599042
2013
HD, single channel video on screen
Duration 03:58
-filmed at Suvilahti, Helsinki
Performer: Tra-My Pham
Sound: Samuli Tanner

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

My heart is a smoking hole in the ground


“My heart is a smoking hole in the ground.”
2011
HD Video
16:9
Duration 06.00 min


A sole survivor of a heavy party night has passed out facedown on a sofa.
Is he happy, lovesick, broke or drifting? One can only speculate about the figure that collapsed in a way that reminded me of a central element of a classical painting composition.

The unarranged human figure stays unknown to the spectator and remains till today unknown to me. The whole scenario is a found situation that was just put into perspective by the chosen camera angle. The rotating reflections of an invisible disco balls and music beats wash over the scenery.
The tempo, pitch and complexity of the sound changes with the rotating reflections that speed up, slow down and reverse. It can be best described as to belong to the “video game genre”, consisting of electronic sounds and drum sound samples it was originally made for a TV show called Ninja for kids. For the video it was further modified.
The music was composed by Samuli Tanner one of the bright young talents of Helsinki’s musical underground and internationally probably best known as one half of the dub step production team Clouds.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Vertical Limit, video



Vertical Limit
2011
16:9
HD
00:01:32
stereo sound

The video shows a haptic exploration of a 16-meter high tree. The protagonist in this video is a hand that travels up the bark starting from the firm solid trunk at eye level and ending at the highest most elastic of its branches. The hand is in this case not Symbol of how to manipulate the physical world, but also how to perceive it.
I took the video in one shoot and its flawless motion creates a feeling of lucidity and weightlessness. For a moment one can become a gravity defying squirrel or an ant not worrying about dimensions or just liquid absorbed by the roots and traveling through fine capillary systems towards the leaf-bearing branches.
You can see the video by following this link http://vimeo.com/user3810697

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Vertical Limit, Installation







“Vertical Limit”, video/kinetic installation
2011
Hardware: computer controlled industrial motor, arduino microcontroller, hdmi box, switches, nylon wire, steel wire, silicon wire, beamer, and steel, funier, concrete.
Video components: Two HD video files being displayed according to the up and down movements- each track has duration of 05.10 min (original “one shot” footage).

The video/kinetic installation “Vertical Limit”, takes the same named video work to the next level. I always wanted to create a symbiosis between moving image and kinetic movement. The footage of the former mentioned work was used in combination with a kinetic set up. A lofty space at the summer exhibition “Tilallisia paikkoja/Spatial places” in Fiskars 2011 was the perfect setting to mount this experiment. The height of the space offered the opportunity to play with the vertical dimension. In the height of eight meter I installed a devise that could lower and rise a triangular “beamer pod”, thereby constantly traveling up and down between to likewise forms
On the floor, centered and 250/300 cm into the space is a triangular concrete block from witch three steel wires went up to the ceiling. These wires are guide lines on witch the video projection devise went up and down by means of an microchip controlled industrial motor. The projector rises and sinks in five min. intervals and according to this rhythm the movement in the video is synchronized. To antennas on the top and bottom give signals to the motor as well as to the Hdmi box when to switch to the right video file.
The installation worked flawless for about a month but had to be shoot down because of a hardware error (cable tranmission). Nevertheless it will be debugged for the next show and I am quite confident it will improve with this changes. The work can be customized for any room and location that provides a ceiling height of at least 450 cm.
You can see a video of the working installation under http://vimeo.com/30894936
The project was realised in colaboration with Gregoir Rosseau (rousseau.fi), who supported me not only with technical expertise, but put a lot of personal time and vision into this installation.

Hand on wire



Hand on wire
2011
HD video
00.06.45 min

“Hand on wire” is one of several experimental video works that originated in the idea of human reclamation of space, in this case the vertical. My chosen settings- may they be human build architecture (suspended electricity lines between buildings),- or natural given locations (lofty treetops) are places that radiate a lucid atmosphere. For these projects I used a powerful hydraulic lifter that can carry two people up to a height of 22 m and can perform coordinated movements (vertical/horizontal) simultaneously.
The video was taken at Oksasenkatu in Töölö and unfolds its activity in form of a hand performing a high wire act on a electricity line that is suspended at 12 m height between two red brick 7 floor buildings.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

High Plateau




High Plateau
2011
HD video (looped)
00.01.50 min

The work “High Plateau” was filmed during my residence at the Cite´ Internationale des Arts in Paris. I took a lot of video footage of street performers and practitioners of parcour that reclaim the urban environment for their own pleasure.
Set against skyline of Paris a floral street pole stands like an exclamation mark against the clouded horizon. A small group of pigeons gets a surprising visit by a soccer acrobat that has his own personal claim to this vertical playground.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Body Flight




Body Flight
2010
Plastic protectors from various sport uniforms, aluminum, Plexiglas, ventilator, plywood, light bulbs
Because of the low ceiling height I decided to have one of the sculptures hovering over a giant air van like in Indoor skydiving, a popular training tool for skydivers. Vertical wind tunnels enable human beings to fly in air without planes or parachutes, through the force of wind being generated vertically. Wind moves upwards at approximately 195 km/h (120 mph or 55 m/s), the terminal velocity of a falling human body belly-downwards.
The round corpus is made of plywood covered with a semitransparent Plexiglas plate.
One can see the shadows of a rotating propeller that is caste by a strong light source underneath.
The Van component has a diameter of 2600 cm and had to be 60 cm high to fit the mechanical and electronically elements. The Airflow was simulated by the rotating shadows of the wing blades. The sculpture was hanging apex. 200 cm above the surface by steel wires. The work was shown at the Sara Hilden Art Museum in Tampere.

Body Shop






Body Shop
2010
Plastic protectors from various sport uniforms, aluminum, concrete
Hanging 4 channel video display with 23”W TFT Color LCD screens in cone shaped steel display (120x120x60 cm pointed slightly angled towards all 4 directions)
The displays shows video footage of black and white painted body parts filmed in a black box. The face, hands and feats perform simple movements during a looped interval of several minutes. The strong contrast of black and white reminds of robotic 3Ddesign.
Underneath the hanging display is the dressing area. It is a ring of aluminum that is supported by aluminum posts with concrete feet. Hanging from this ring is a selection of equipment garment -like clothes- waiting to be tried on. There are models of arms, legs as well as upper and downer torsos on display.

Centre of Mass





Center Of Mass
2010
Kinetic sculpture on stand
SP motor, steel, wires, hard shell plastic protective elements
Figure 220x 90x40 cm, Stand from metal with motor 90x90x30 cm

The work “Center Of Mass”, is a slightly bigger than human size sculpture that collapses and erects its form in a 1 min interval. A hidden motor inside the stand pulls a steel cable that is connected to several joints of the figure and folds its limbs together. Steel springs restore the figure to its normal standing posture when the motor reverses its setting.
The figures outlines consist of black plastic protective shells. (Various forms of sports)
The ancient Greek physicist, mathematician, and engineer Archimedes of Syracuse first introduced the concept of center of mass. The center of mass of a body does not generally coincide with its geometric center, and this property can be exploited. When high jumpers perform a "Fosbury Flop", they bend their body in such a way that it is possible for the jumper to clear the bar while his or her center of mass does not. The work is an experiment whereby I try to simulate human movements with simple mechanical elements.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Dionysia





Dionysia
2010
Installation with sculptural and video elements
-Field, Wall 400x450x50 cm, Field 400x500cm,
Silicon molded and hand painted plaster replicas of 25 basketballs,
taped field, iron b.ball rig,
-Hanging 4 channel video display with 23”W TFT Color LCD screens in cone shaped steel display (120x120x60 cm pointed slightly angled towards all 4 directions), HD players
I like to use the term “unfolding” when I talk about my artistic practice because it refers to the process in witch a concept or a form becomes visible in most of its visual and conceptual elements. The installation Dionysia developed out of the same working method. I wanted to unfold a whole basketball match into sculptural elements. The different aspects of the ceremony were dismantled and formed a new spatial set up that disrupted the foreseeable patterns of the game. I was using video displays, sculptural elements, tapings and objects in the realization.
The work title “Dionysia” derives from an ancient religious festival in honor of the god Dionysus, the central event of which was the performance of tragedies and comedies.
The work certainly inhabits both aspects of performance in the sense of the hilarious destruction of rather beautiful sculptures. It also commends on the western conception of time, which is highly dramatic in the Greek sense of movement (dramatic movement).
There is a point of origin; there is progress, linear or even exponential, there is crisis and finally catharsis or fall. Creation and destruction as we observe in the playful learning process of children stays a dormant aspect of human character. A lot of temporary problems are coursed by an excuse to unleash the negative side in the name of competition. Heaven or hell-win or fail. I liked the way that this existed as complete picture after the big event was over. The hanging display shows a 3 min. loop of a basketball game. The balls having been used were authentic looking hollow balls of painted plaster that crashed during a game in which five players performed. Four HD cameras have recorded the happening from different angels.

Thermoposteriophobia



Thermoposteriophobia
2010
concrete, thermostat, heating cable


The name “Thermoposteriophobia” describes an overpowering phobia of second hand body warmth. I found an Internet forum were people discussed this more or less common disease. A woman was writing about her problems riding the public transportation and sitting on warm seats after other people she doesn't know. Given a few moments to cool, she will sit right down with no problem, but she will feel the seat before sitting to make sure. In public spaces and Transport systems we constantly exchange involuntarily warmth and also coldness in some cases.

This outside work was realized for the exhibition Intertwining witch dealt with interactive installation. A concrete slap outside the main entrance to the Art academy was my chosen location. During summertime this place is a popular hangout where people drink coffee or smoke but in the finish winter it disappears under snow.
I casted a concrete plate (5cm thickness) with a hidden heating module. The plate has the exact measurements of the concrete block and was placed neatly on top of the former. The heating system is similar to the floor heating devises and maintains an average temperature of 37.0° Celsius.
In dry condition it is an unexpected surprise for a person sitting down on this spot.
During rain or snowfall it leaves a visible mark suggesting a person having left its warmth at this place.

Uncanny valley Version 2


Uncanny valley -Version II
2010
Video-kinetic/installation, steel, Arduino Duemilanove microchip, servo motors, steel pipes, springs, five micro video projectors, concrete

The installation uses simple kinetic elements and video footage of painted body parts, filmed in a black box. A kinetic torso moved by servomotors is fixed to the wall and performs simple body gestures like shrugging its shoulders or gentle swaying in the hip area. Together with this moving frame I arranged five looping videos coming from separate beamers. These complete the figures expression with face, hands and feats.
The strong contrast of black and white reminds of robotic 3Ddesign and creates an alienating feeling.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Uncanny Valley






Uncanny Valley
2009
Arduino Decimila microchips, twelve servo motors, aluminum construction, springs, skin (collagen)

This work was realized for the group exhibition 7 Cubes that was curated by the Berlin based, Dutch artist Anneke Eussen. It is my first kinetic sculpture with Arduino technology. As a primary set up for the exhibition the gallery space was divided into by an elastic grid of 1-sqm cubes. This web created a determined space to work with.
For the given proposal I wanted to make a sculpture that moves in and outside the cube by expanding and contracting it limbs. An Idea about how movement is equal to “ever-changing” space, programmed and yet unpredictable.
I wanted to create this prototype of the robot as skinny and filigree as possible in the sense of a spatial drawing. Later on I decided to still at some parts of bodily volume of collagen tissue.
The Title “Uncanny valley” arrived from the hypothesis that goes by this name and holds that when robots and other facsimiles of humans look and act almost like actual humans, it causes a response of revulsion among human observers. The "valley" in question is a dip in a proposed graph of the positivity of human reaction as a function of a robot's lifelikeness.
It was introduced by Japanese roboticist Masahiro Mori
Mori's hypothesis states that as a robot is made more humanlike in its appearance and motion, the emotional response from a human being to the robot will become increasingly positive and empathic, until a point is reached beyond which the response quickly becomes that of strong repulsion. However, as the appearance and motion continue to become less distinguishable from a human being, the emotional response becomes positive once more and approaches human-to-human empathy levels.
This area of repulsive response aroused by a robot with appearance and motion between a "barely human" and "fully human" entity is called the uncanny valley. The name captures the idea that a robot, which is “almost human”, will seem overly "strange" to a human being and thus will fail to evoke the empathic response required for productive human-robot interaction.