Author: G.H. Hovagimyan --- Date: 2/10/97 --- Copyright: ThingReviews NYC

Port-MIT: Navigating Digital Culture

The List Visual Arts Center

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

A report by G.H. Hovagimyan

The ground rules for digital art in the next century are being worked out now--how to do an internet show that goes beyond a row of computers with links to people's homepages. This mode of presentation is what one usually encounters in art galleries trying to accomodate new media. It works to a degree but somehow the viewer is still trapped in the box. Furthermore this structure of presentation doesn't begin to explore the flexibility of the internet.

Enter Port-MIT and I mean enter it. To get beyond the stasis of computer terminals an open ended design discussion was set up on a ListServ with the exhibitions core participants and the List Visual Arts Center curators. To help the visualization process Marek Walzcyk, an architect, who has been moving into art circles, used VRML (virtual reality modeling language). The final product is, to quote Adrianne Wortzel, "an armature upon which time based performative internet events are viewed/ interacted with." The initial impetus for Port-MIT came from a conversation between Remo Campopiano and the List center curators. The core participants responsible are Robbin Murphy, Adrianne Wortzel, Ebon Fisher, G.H. Hovagimyan as well as Remo Campopiano and Marek Walzcyk.

The show is two months long. This isn't just any old computer internet show. The group decided to forego web pages and go for performance or interactive events. All the works are being streamed to MIT over the internet. Some or all depend upon performer/ operators at MIT to make sure things are up and running. At the opening the four large rear projection screens floating above the center of the gallery hosted four different events/interfaces. One screen had the Time Warner/ generic virtual chat world called Palace with veteran conceptual artist Lawrence Wiener engaging in cartoon avatar chat. This was produced by Adaweb and streamed to Boston from NYC. One of the more poignant moments, a disconsulate Joseph Kosuth realizing the action was not in the gallery room exhibiting his works, good naturedly strolls into Port and plunks down for some Avatar chat with his colleague Lawrence Weiner.

Sawad Brooks, on another screen, treated people to hi-tech 3D interactive Java applets. This was replaced by Marek Walzcyk performing VRML on the fly drawings using the URL's of peoples web pages to spin 3D Avatars. The two other screens housed remote video and sound streamed performance/ situation/ environments by Ebon Fisher titled Wailing in the Alula Dimension, Art Dirt/Cosy Disco/ by G.H. Hovagimyan,Peter Sinclair and the LOIEL workshop at the Ecole D'art D'Aix-en-Provence. Fisher's Alula dimension, a stark meditation chamber/ box with portholes for people to crawl in and out realized the social forces of a primitive gathering encapsulated and transported via Cu See Me to the Port screen. On occasion performers would crawl out, stare into the camera and wail to startling effect.

The Cosy Disco event was even more energetic. The disco, actually a step van that Sinclair altered to open out into a portable stage was covered by a 40 foot diameter inflatable enviroment constructed by Christian Soucaret and the LOEIL Workshop. Along with sound works, there were live performances by artists such as Alexandre Pazmandy,and Eddy Godeberge . With help of Julien Hokim, I translated "Hey Bozo... Use Mass Transit" rap, into Marseille banlieu slang and performed it live with two local artists, Natalie Andrei and Ox. This was streamed to Port-MIT in Boston.

It must be noted that part of the Port-MIT concept--that works would be accessible not only in the gallery but also to remote participants on the internet has opened a new direction for gallery/ internet exhibitions. The exhibition runs through March 29th and has artists from around the world engaging the Port-MIT armature. Live events are continuous starting at noon on Tuesdays. For information and schedules look on PORT or call the List Center for the Visual Arts in Boston.

PORT at MIT Web Site:
Archive: http://home.ease.lsoft/archives/port-mit.html
ListGuy: Robbin Murphy |

G.H. Hovagimyan

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Masami Kikuchi --

I deal with tele-entertainment(tele-music, tele-performance, tele-signing et al), tele-education and tele-nursing using 128kbps-based ISDN video teleconferencing systems. Your project might be collaborative with mine, and am interested in it. Please keep sending me info.