W08 - Ursula Damm

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W08 - Ursula Damm

Post by glegrady » Thu Nov 20, 2014 2:52 pm

Ursula Damm, originally trained in sculpture at the Dusseldorf Art Academy is an interdisciplinary artist whose works cross into many areas from media arts to bio-art. She has had solo exhibitions at the Goethe House, New York, Neuer Aachener Kunstverein, Aachen, the Art Collection NRW Dusseldorf, the Wallraf - Richartz Museum in Cologne, and many others. She was also represented in various international festivals (Ars Electronica 1999; ISEA 2002, Nagoya; New Movie New Media Festival Montreal and Ars Electronica 2006.

George Legrady

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Re: W08 - Ursula Damm

Post by fabian » Sat Nov 22, 2014 10:26 pm

Last edited by fabian on Mon Nov 24, 2014 7:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: W08 - Ursula Damm

Post by rluo » Sun Nov 23, 2014 10:28 am

Thoughts about data visualization

I’m particularly interested about how Ursula Damm visualized data based on video tracking system, because coincidently that my final proposal of this course is also about to visualize some information gathered by some cameras in a specific site.

The intriguing part of Damm’s video tracking pieces is that she was kind of recreated the 3D scene of the space based on the 2D footage recored by the camera. In Memory of Space (2002), she used positions and velocities of audience in the space to generate a 3D distorted topographic map. In Timescape (2005), she took one step further to create a naturally grown architecture based the similar types of data she used in Memory of Space. Apart from the aesthetic choice of Damm, the interactive decisions she made were reasonable or making sense, which is a very important method in art making. In terms of data visualization, we can do thousands of things based on the same group of data, so we have to ask ourselves that if our visualization has some connections with the raw data or original prototypes, or if it’s just generated by ‘randomness’.

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Re: W08 - Ursula Damm

Post by anisbharon » Mon Nov 24, 2014 11:02 am

Ursula Damm presented a body of work, most of which are collaborative in nature and involves biology in one form or another, apparent in her works such as Double Helix Swing (2006) - uses specific sound frequency simulating the wing beat of a female midge to attract certain species of midges, Greenhouse Converter (2010) - an apparatus for algae, water flea and people, in which a natural ecology is being technologically controlled by humans, and The Outline of Paradise (2012) - using sound to control flight patterns of genetically modified midges for it to glow in the dark, to create a shape of advertisement messages.

Her work, The Outline of Paradise (2012) reminds me of an existing outdoor 3 dimensional signage technology developed in Japan with possibilities for similar applications. (http://www.geek.com/science/pulse-laser ... r-1608487/)

Of all of her projects presented, my personal favorite would be her beautiful video installation works, namely 598 (2009), Transits (2012) and Chromatographic Ballads (2013). In these works, she collaborated with programmers Matthias Weber, Sebastian Stang and Martin Schneider. The resulting processed footage exhibits an output with time-lapse like qualities, which emphasizes movements of objects in space, reminiscent of long exposure photography.

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Re: W08 - Ursula Damm

Post by intae » Sun Nov 30, 2014 12:21 am

Hmm, I just lost my writing, ..

It was interesting to see her almost entire project, even though she was only allowed an hour for the presentation. For me, the first work was the most impressive for me, there existed her strong and rough voice to the society. I loved the unrefined way of expression as a sculptor.

The second project that manipulating image that captured from the tram rotation was interesting. The elongated image seems like being recreated such as brush strokes in an oil painting. I like the negotiating process how much change will apply from the original image.

The chair project and its design seemed incomplete with the combination of aluminum extrusion and acrylic plate. Since she was inspired Sol LeWitt's artwork, the technology and invention are retrieved back to 80s.

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Re: W08 - Ursula Damm

Post by kurt » Sun Nov 30, 2014 2:16 pm

Ursula Damm's work lies across an unusual spectrum, bisecting sculpture, architecture, media art, installation, computation, and bioart. I felt like her video art pieces were most successful, namely the technique used for transits which creates some unique and appealing distortion based on how our brains sort information. It was fun to think about a loop between my brain sorting the information of the artwork and the artwork sorting itself in a similar way. I couldn't help but feel a little disappointed when I noticed that in essentially every artwork where a computer program is central to the piece, she credits someone else as the author of that code in a small notation at the end of its description. I'm not sure why I feel disappointed as this sort of practice long predates computer programming, but as someone who is currently experiencing the oscillating tribulations and exaltations associated with learning how to code in order to implement my ideas, it was harder for me to connect to her experiences as an artist.

Ms. Damm's most interesting pieces revolve around her transition into bioart. A practice in its infancy, Damm has been working with universities to realize some ambitious projects, including training glowing midges to form shapes as a vector for advertisement. I was curious if she had dealt with issues pertaining to ethics in biology, namely the release of modified organisms into the environment. It seemed that she had not, and I was left with considering the possibility that she was not aware of such a thing. I did a little bit of research and was surprised to find that there is little to no regulation on the release of synthetic organisms into the environment, merely suggestions. In 2010, President Barack Obama commissioned a report on the safety implications of synthetic biology and six months later, the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues reported to the White House that they "found no reason to endorse further federal regulations or a moratorium to work in this field at this time.”(1) In 2012, a study investigating future guidelines for synthetic biology at Oxford concluded:
in our view, the ethical issues that most warrant consideration relate to the possible risks of releasing synthetic entities into the environment, given that predicting their future behaviour is a challenging task. Whilst this should motivate synthetic biologists to improve design techniques, ethical analysis might help determine what level of predictability should be required, and how the possible risks should be weighed against probable benefits.
So while Damm's current work might have zero environmental impact, it sparks some tangential conversations that are being had right now in science. And perhaps now is a great time to make some biological artwork, especially synthetic bioart, as it's currently an open playing field!

1. New Directions: The Ethics of Synthetic Biology and Emerging Technologies. Presidential Commission
for the Study of Bioethical Issues. December 2010. http://bioethics.gov/sites/default/file ... .16.10.pdf

2. Engineering and ethical perspectives in synthetic biology: Rigorous, robust and predictable designs, public engagement and a modern ethical framework are vital to the continued success of synthetic biology. Papachristodoulou et. al.
EMBO Rep. 2012 July; 13(7): 584–590. Published online 2012 June 15. doi: 10.1038/embor.2012.81
PMCID: PMC3389334

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Re: W08 - Ursula Damm

Post by fabian » Sun Dec 14, 2014 4:41 am

This was a very interesting lecture. I was not familiar with Ms. Damm's work before and I found her early works to be quite advanced for the time of their conception. However, I would like to put up for discussion a "political" questions that I tried to put politely in class: What was this competition entry at MIT all about? As I said in class, if someone asked me what is wrong with art-science collaborations, I would say: this. "Artists" that "play" scientists, that put on lab coats and devise imaginary research projects, that "ironically" simulate not even the conventions of scientific research but the conventions of scientific research presentation. Sadly, many projects that function like that fool even world-class cultural institutions into presenting them, utilizing the lack of scientific knowledge within the senior management of those institutions. The dream of a "third culture" becomes a distant utopia in the light of such - in my opinion, failed - collaborations. To put it more productively, I would love to have a discussion on the usefulness of "speculative" technology, maybe with the two extremes of never-to-be-realized utopian/sci-fi technologies on the one end and not-yet-realized Kickstarter campaigns on the other end.

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Re: W08 - Ursula Damm

Post by akshay » Sun Dec 14, 2014 2:30 pm

Ursula Damm's presentation, was overstimulating for me. There were many more dimensions to her work than i could perceive. Many of her science related ones did remind me of what Fabian speaks of.

From my limited exposure, there seem to be many artists and designers who present work on speculative technology. While I am skeptical from an engineer's viewpoint, I am however, envious about the fact that they allow themselves the free-flow thought process that isn't limited by questions of viability. This, as an engineer, is slightly more difficult to do.

Specifically on the MIT Media Labs, I have had the chance to interact extensively with several researchers in the MIT Media Labs on two occasions. I've come to understand that their ideation process tries to emulate the artist's, where they try their best not to limit themselves to the viability of today's technology. The emphasis is on how important the idea is, despite the technology. Immediately after settling on an idea, they switch full-throttle onto engineer mode, thinking of ways in which they bring the idea to life; sometimes, resulting in new technology. I think this is the 'balance' that most art/technology hybrid programmes strive for. Not a hybrid output like pseudo-scientific art, or pseudo-artistic science, but a hybrid way-of-thinking.

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