Feeling the virtual

Sylvain (http://SystemicResponse.com)

2015 August 27

Here is a screenshot from a project I was working on years ago, when I was young and naïve.

It was meant to be a complete virtual art installation.

Back then, I had this (momentaneous) need to cristalize an experience of my life, and also it required a sort of wholeness: something you could see, hear and interact with; something like an art installation.
I found an opportunity into the virtual. Accessible, “playable”, sharable, etc., what’s not to like in a virtual art installation?

Well, first off, there are the obvious technical barriers, which makes it very challenging. The mind of the true master is the one who masters both the theory and its application; both the technique and its purpose; both the concept and its concrete reality; he masters the complexity of the simpleness. This task, in the virtual world of algorithms, is a hard one.
Of course, I already knew how to do most of the things I needed: programming, 3D sculpting, computer music production, etc. This “practical” knowledge is one acquired progressively through years.
When the reality meets your own fiction, it can disappoint, but also open doors; and distract: your limits are more volatile than ever; example: I have a virtual synthetizer which includes more than 300 presets (instruments) in its default installation: what music to make out of this!?

Besides, modern technology is essentially about quantity and actively works against focus and, hence, against quality. While it sure offers an incredible opportunity when it comes to accessibility, putting an art installation onto the Internet is paradoxical. Its proper enjoyment requires suspension of disbelief; but, on the Internet, time is ticking faster than ever and space is constantly reshaped. No peace is to be found anywhere; not even on the Tumblr walls of art consumption.

Most importantly, it is the reality of the human experience which got away in the process. The coldness of a machine will never transcribe the hollistic dimension of a human experience. The senses have gone away, and with them the “art” itself, for it is their ends.

I never concretely finished this project.
I do have a playable prototype in which you can navigate around while hearing a piano piece I had composed myself (draft above)1, but I never got the interactive part really working – all mainly because the software I was using was not quite made for that task.
This project’s job though, has been done: it allowed me to make something out of a sentiment and, above all, thankfully avoided the narcissistic display of a once troubled state of mind nobody would understand – which is the case for most “modern art” pieces nowadays.
Art has become a liberal self-absorbed concept completely detached from its original source (beauty), and it is not my objective to further this vision.
I did this, and kept it, for myself – and that’s what, in most cases, you should probably do too.

  1. Keep in mind that I had (and still have) no musical background whatsoever.