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CAN 2017 – Highlights and Favourites

As 2017 comes to a close, we take a moment to look back at the outstanding work done this year. From spectacular performances, large scale installations, devices and tools to the new virtual spaces for artistic exploration – so many great projects are being added to the CAN archive! Here are a just few, 25 in total, that we and you enjoyed the most this year.

For the full list of all projects published in 2017, click here. For previous years, see 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016.

→ Performance

Increasingly robust coding frameworks and cheaper GPUs have turned audiovisual performance into a bit of an arms race. That said, it’s the intangibles – room for improvisation and a great concept – that can spell the difference between a compelling performance and a not-so that overstays its welcome. He are a three that really stood out for us this year.

Three Pieces with Titles – artificiel

Previously finding the musicality of Tesla Coils and Rubik’s Cubes, 2017 saw artificiel return to tangible media. This new performance saw the duo manipulate an eclectic collection of objects within the field of view of a computer vision system to generate real-time video and abstract sonic collage. Read More.

– Push 1 stop and Woulg

A game engine-like improvisational platform that sees musician (Woulg) and media artist (Push 1 stop)  team up to “create the missing data between sound and image,” this collaboration renders real-time geometric formations that pulsate in and skitter across immersive dome environments. Read More.

Force Field
– Evelina Domnitch and Dmitry Gelfand

Levitated with sound, water droplets resonate, vaporise and reassemble into oscillating forms while spinning in mid-air. Delineating the three-dimensionality of sound, this performance reveals the hidden physicality of water while echoing the rotational dynamics of celestial and subatomic bodies. Read More.

→ VR / AR / MR

We’re entering ‘year 3’ of VR in the living room, Apple released ARKit alongside iOS 11 in September – of course we saw considerable interest in augmented vision in 2017. These projects show us how strange and compelling mixed reality experiences can be.

Who Wants to be a Self-Driving Car?
– Joey Lee, Benedikt Groß and Raphael Reimann

One of the techno-touchstones of the coming smart city, the driverless car will alter our experience of urban space. This steel-frame buggy allows users to embody a self-driving car and ‘see as it sees’ while trying to navigate the city as prompted by computer vision. Read More.

House of Shadow Silence
– Jeremy Rotsztain

Part architectural fly-through and part spatial archaeology, this VR experience builds a world of light, geometry, and motion.that delves into the unrealized vision for a 1929 movie theatre designed by Frederick Kiesler. Read More.

– Mária Júdová and Andrej Boleslavský

Exploring new modes of interaction and ways of experiencing contemporary dance, this project allows users to don a headset, shift their perspective(s), and get ‘up close and personal’ with volumetrically captured dancers. Read More.

→ Music Videos

Once linear and made-to-order for MTV the music video now spills across myriad video sharing services and takes full advantage of all the capabilities of the modern browser and generative tools. For the artists and designers in the field, it’s become a platform where once just a quick lab experiment, can finally take a full form. Read More.

Dance Tonite
– Studio Puckey, Moniker and Google Data Arts Team

Building on Moniker’s momentum with browser-based videos, Dance Tonite takes the angsty centrepiece of LCD Soundsystem’s most recent album and turns it into a 3D dance party – watch it passively or use VR to contribute your best moves. Read More.

Obsession – Damian KulashJr
and Yusuke Tanaka, Rhizomatiks

Rife with wire work aerial acrobatics and hundreds of printers spewing rainbow arrays of colour, Obsession turns the four members of OK Go into avatars in an elaborate stop motion choreography. Read More.

– Denial of Service

Building an aesthetic of viscous flows and evolving black and white forms, Onryō marries reaction-diffusion algorithms and tough drum programming into tightly orchestrated tech-noir chaos. Read More.

→ Large Scale Installation

The fact that you can lose yourself in the most virtuosic large scale installations is their main selling point – nothing beats the immersive, perception warping experience they deliver.

node 5:5
– Ryoichi Kurokawa

Quite literally bringing the Japanese artist’s signature fractured geometries into three dimensions, this installation uses lasers, surround sound, and high resolution projection to inscribe and carve up space in a crackling audiovisual performance. Read More.

The Light Barrier, Third Edition
– Kimchi and Chips

Part of an ongoing series of works by the Seoul-based studio, this installation deploys hundreds of carefully calibrated video projections, an elaborate mirror array, and a cloud of fog to render ghostly volumes that appear to float in mid-air. Read More.

A [For 100 Cars]
– Ryoji Ikeda

Here, large scale is 100 muscle cars spanning an Los Angeles parking lot, which – outfitted with custom hardware for engine control – rev to emit a synchronized hum and generate various frequencies and octaves of concert pitch A. Read More.

→ Tools

Many artists and designers produce hermetic works or experiences, others choose a more selfless path forward and invest their energy in building tools that empower other creatives.

– James Paterson

An open-source WebVR tool that allows user to create 3D frame-by-frame animations using VR controllers. Building on wisdom gleaned during the development of Rhonda (2004-05), this makes rudimentary 3D drawing as intuitive as doodling in 2D. Read More.

– Ted Davis

Oscilloscopes and lasers are not exactly everyday displays, but this Processing library makes them accessible to the masses. Ingeniously, it renders vector graphics in these idiosyncratic contexts by converting them to audio waveforms. Read More.

– Johannes Lohbihler

Bang a drum, shake those marbles – ‘forget about virtual instruments, analogue noise making is where it’s at’ is the premise of this platform. Successfully raising 150,000 EUR on Kickstarter, it allows the manipulation of objects with motors and solenoids via MIDI. Read More.

→ Games

It has been a quiet year for Games on CAN – we are probably to blame as our interests and focus sometimes shifts away from where the noise dominates. Game space is one of those, and even though rich with newcommers and established game designers, one game stands out in particular for 2017.

– David OReilly

Everything is an open ended interactive experience and reality simulation game. It involves traveling through the Universe and seeing it from different points of view, with the system designed to create moments of peace, beauty, sadness and joy – and allow the player to do whatever they want. Everything requires no player input – it will play automatically if left unattended. Read More.

→ Device

Software can be most interesting when it manifests itself in its physical counterpart. Zeros and ones spill into the physical world leaving the trails of the number crunching. Here are a few we particularly enjoyed this year.

– onformative

A kinetic sculpture comprised of arrays of circular black metal segments set in mechanical columns. Interlocking and rotating around fluorescent light tubes, the cylinders cover or expose the light to display an endless number of patterns. Read More.

– David Colombini

New design of his 2014 Jean Tinguely-inspired project, David Colombini’s Attachment is a “poetic machine” that renders physical manifestations of user-generated digital messages (text, images, or videos) and sends them off via biodegradable balloons. Read More.

Particle Flow

Granules of rock and sand are driven by gravity and topography forming an analogue particle system. A moving slanted plane and a grid of motorized stamps control the elements to form infinite variations of behaviours and patterns. Read More.

Lost in Computation
– Jonas Eltes

Multilingual conversation between two Chatbot AIs trained in Swedish and Italian, translated through Google Translate, exploring how the multiple layers of computation in today’s digital landscape distorts our communication. Read More.

Trophy Camera
– Dries Depoorter

Photo camera that can only make award winning pictures. Just take your photo and check if the camera sees your picture as award winning. Read More.

→ AI / Neural Nets / Cryptocurrency

Regardless of the hype surrounding these topics (CAN’s recent efforts with crypto-mining included) these are peculiar subjects and continue to provide an interesting new landscapes for artistic exploration.

– Bjørn Karmann

Objectifier empowers people to train objects in their daily environment to respond to their unique behaviours – you teach it only what you want it to care about and it sees and understands it’s environment. It uses computer vision and a neural network to allow for complex behaviours to be associated with your command. Read More.

– Julian Oliver

Created by Julian Oliver and commissioned by the Konstmuseet i Skövde, HARVEST is a work of critical engineering and computational climate art. It uses wind-energy to mine cryptocurrency, the earnings of which are used as a source of funding for climate-change research. Read More.

TraiNNing Cards
– Automato

TraiNNing Cards is a set of 5000 training images, physically printed and handpicked by humans to train any of your machines to recognise first and favorite item in a house: a dog. Read More.

Archive Dreaming – Refik Anadol Studio

A six meters wide circular installation that employs machine learning algorithms to search and sort relations among 1,700,000 documents from 17th-20th century Ottoman Bank’s Cultural Archive. The resulting high-dimensional data and interactions are translated into an architectural immersive space. Read More.

Thank you – the readers, members, and a global community of artists and designers – for another great year of discovery with and for you. Happy New Year!

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