Re:Constructing Evidence

Friday Sept 20th – Friday October 25th

Reception Friday October 4th at 6pm

Re:Constructing Evidence explores the role of evidence and practices of evidence construction – both physical and digital – in public controversies and civic life. The exhibition features four case studies focused on climate change, preservation, assumptions in data analytics, and the construction of breaking news narratives. Rooted in discourses of architecture, journalism, media art and
environmental humanities, these projects illuminate common themes around memory, community, social and scientific practices. Echoing the iconic 1977 “Evidence” show by Larry Sultan and Mike Mandel, this exhibition explores the tensions between traces and their latent, emerging narratives.

Digital media and machine intelligence have complicated the deceptively simple idea of factual evidence. The concept of ‘raw’ data, often used in disciplines such as data science and artificial intelligence, which regards data as unformatted, unprocessed, pre-analytical entities, edits out the context for data creation, including the knowledge that is required to collect data and the ways that data is shaped by certain socio- technical systems, such as database structures, sensors, and data entry forms. Datasets, images, and online interactions can be manipulated without leaving revealing traces. Consequently, they are often weaponized for disinformation and biased narratives. Meanwhile, news narratives coalesce faster than journalists can verify and contextualize details.
Years of controversies around political and environmental issues have led to cynicism and confusion surrounding the concepts of evidence and truth, leaving many people to either yearn for an abstract ideal of supposedly lost objectivity or to give up altogether on the idea of attainable truth.

The erosion of facts is not a problem of digital disruption, but, to some extent, the product of a mindset that assumes digital information to be abstract, immaterial, and independent from a physical world that is considered unambiguously factual. The works in this exhibition show the complications and inherent contradictions of such a dualism by focusing on the materiality of data and its consequences for public discourse. They reveal digital media as a material phenomenon that leaves traces, if one only looks close enough. Physical traces, on the other hand, are not to be
equated with factual evidence; they are often misleading, ambiguous, and depend on the skilled eye of the beholder. Through case studies from urbanism, artificial intelligence, recent journalism history, and environmental pollution, the projects in this exhibition investigate the constructed nature of evidence — construction not as an arbitrary process, but as a form of collective sensemaking.

Computational Fables by Jennifer Gradecki and Derek Curry is an interactive video installation where participants chose between different video compilations to see the kinds of stories that data analytics companies tell about their products. The videos, which are algorithmically generated from a collection of data analytic companies’ promotional videos, showcase the frequently occurring images and metaphors.

ozone tattoo by Dietmar Offenhuber is an artistic research project to measure ozone pollution through indicator plants. ozone tattoos are reference patterns of ozone damage on plant leaves that help recognize ozone damage on the rest of the plant.

Salvage Units by Ang Li is an architectural installation that explores the material afterlives of modern consumption. Using expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam diverted from the landfill, the exhibition presents a monolithic building block whose form recalls the material systems of the waste-processing industry. The piece draws from the inventory practices of salvage yards and recycling centers – the stockpiling of trash into provisional units of bales, skids, and ingots – to illustrate the vast economies of scale associated with the redistribution of waste.

Breaking by Meg Heckman focuses on the April 19, 1995 Oklahoma City bombing as it was the first major news event many Americans followed using the Internet. Because of spotty digital archiving practices, there are no known visual records of how stories, photos, and other content appeared online in the hours and days after the tragedy. The installation attempts to fill that gap by using interviews with journalists from USA Today and The Washington Post to recreate the online news they produced on that deadly day. It also ponders the media consumption experiences of the nascent digital audience.

 

About the Artists:

Jennifer Gradecki is an artist-theorist who aims to facilitate a practice-based understanding of socio-technical systems that typically evade public scrutiny. Using methods from institutional critique, tactical media, and information activism, she investigates information as a source of power and resistance. Her investigations have focused on Institutional Review Boards, financial instruments and, most recently, technologies of mass surveillance. She holds an MFA in New Genres from UCLA (2010) and defended her dissertation in Visual Studies at SUNY Buffalo in April 2019. She is currently an Assistant Professor at Northeastern University in Boston.

Derek Curry is an artist-researcher whose work addresses spaces for intervention in automated decision-making systems. His recent work has addressed automated decision-making processes used by automated stock trading systems and Open Source Intelligence gathering (OSINT). His artworks have replicated aspects of social media surveillance systems and communicated with algorithmic trading bots. Derek earned his MFA in New Genres from UCLA’s Department of Art in 2010 and his PhD from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 2018. He is currently an
Assistant Professor at Northeastern University in Boston.

Meg Heckman is an assistant professor of journalism at Northeastern University where she produces both journalism and academic research that explores the intersection of gender, technology and journalism. Her goal is to better understand journalism’s past, present and future, and to cultivate a diverse, inclusive media ecosystem.

Ang Li is an architect and Assistant Professor at the School of Architecture at Northeastern University. Her research and creative practice operates between the fields of architecture
and historic preservation to investigate the maintenance practices and material afterlives of the contemporary building industry. Her work ranges from public installations that engage the indexical agency of building materials to collaborative research centered around the development of interactive architectural archives. She holds a Masters of Architecture from Princeton University and a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture from the University of Cambridge. Prior to joining the faculty at Northeastern, she was a Visiting Artist at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Peter Reyner Banham Fellow at the University at Buffalo.

Dietmar Offenhuber is an associate professor at Northeastern University in the areas of information design and urban affairs. He holds a PhD in Urban Planning from MIT. His research focuses on the relationship between design, technology, and urban governance. Dietmar is the author of the award-winning monograph “Waste is Information” (MIT Press) and has published books on urban
data and related social practices. He also works as an advisor to the United Nations Development Programme.

 

Greenway Conservancy Augmented Reality Art

Boston Cyberarts is pleased to  have commissioned three AR artists for the Greenway Conservancy’s new art project, The Autoshow, which opens May 15, 2019.  In addition the Conservancy has commissioned a local historian to conceptually explore the themes of transportation and the automobile superimposed with photographs of The Greenway, combining the past, the present, and the future.
The Greenway Conservancy’s Augmented Reality (AR) exhibit blends interactive digital elements into our real-world environments through the overlay of historical imagery responding to the ever-changing nature of what once was a major transportation corridor through downtown Boston.
The featured AR artists on this project are Nancy Baker Cahill, John Craig Freeman and Will Pappenheimer. Boston Cyberarts wishes to thank Hoverlay for making this possible.

Boston Cyberarts’ 20th Anniversary

May 1st2019 is the twentieth anniversary of the first day of the first Boston Cyberarts Festival. Boston Cyberarts turns 20 this day. The idea of celebrating the confluence of art and technology with a city wide festival was the product of many minds. Especially important was that people in different fields of art came together to make the festival an examination of all art forms; visual arts, video, music, dance theater, web art, sculpture, literature and recorded and live video sampling.

1999 Cyberarts Banner on the Computer Museum

Besides being an all art forms event is was also a great collaboration of arts organizations. It would have been a success if twenty organizations participated; however sixty cultural and educational institutions signed up and organized over 100 events. Each organization organized their events, within the two weeks of the Festival, according to their own mission and within their own budget. The question of what was the impact of technology, particularly digital technology on the arts was a question whose time had come. An estimated 7,800 people came from across the city, garnering national attention. A feature article in the Sunday New York Times noted the Festival’s implications for Boston’s cultural reputation, “The presence of so much experimental work in and around Boston might surprise those who view the city as a bastion of cultural conservatism, but it reflects a long history blending art and science. The Boston Herald reported: “One week into Boston’s first Cyberarts Festival, the biggest surprise is not the machines but the people . . . onlookers and participants have been eager to explore this celebration of the connection between art and technology.”

Boston Cyberarts’ Youth Project, Faces of Tomorrow

Exchange at 100 Federal Street

Boston Cyberarts is pleased to have commissioned new digital art for Boston Properties’ new video wall in the courtyard at 100 Federal Street, their 37-story, Class A office tower located in the heart of Boston’s Financial District. They have constructed a new street-level glass atrium adjacent to 100 Federal Street along Congress Street. Open since late February 2018, the glass atrium features 8,500 square feet of retail, 500 square feet of kiosk space and a 8,990 square foot year-round garden. Boston Properties asked us to commission five original artworks, four hour-long digital animations and one hour-long video meditation to be displayed on their thirty five foot by sixteen foot LED wall.

More information from SOSO and Wescover.

Dark Thought, Karl Sims, 2018

Seven Experiments In Procedural Animation, by Karl Sims, (2018) These animations were created directly from custom computer code that employs various fractal algorithms, procedural noise, and reaction-diffusion techniques.  While the moving images are purely defined by mathematics, they still manage to evoke a biological aesthetic by resembling sea creatures, neurons, or other microscopic structures that transform from one emergent pattern to another.

Schedule for Seven Experiments in Procedural Animation: Monday at 7:30pm, Tuesday at 6pm & 4am, Wednesday at 4:30pm & 2:30am, Thursday at 3pm & 1am, Friday at 1:30pm & 11:30pm, Saturday at 10pm, Sunday at 9:30am & 8:30pm (note: schedule is subject to being overridden during sporting and other events)

 

Vox Populae, Dennis H. Miller, 2018

Vox Populae by Dennis H. Miller (2018) is a site-specific, computer-generated animation created on commission by Boston Cyberarts and Boston Properties. The title of the work (Voice of the People) refers to the sounds created by the “public” who will view it – it will have a real-time audio accompaniment that will constantly change depending on the ambient noise and the sounds made by the people in the atrium at the time it is being displayed. The work opens with a scene vaguely resembling the shapes of people and works its way to a conclusion 60 minutes later after presenting a sequence of variations on the opening that use different color schemes, screen layouts and modified forms. The imagery was created using generative processes developed by the artist.

Schedule for Vox Populae: Monday at 5:30pm & 3:30am, Tuesday at 4pm & 2am, Wednesday at 2:30pm & 12:30am, Thursday at 3pm & 11pm, Friday at 10:30am &  9:30pm, Saturday at 9am & 8pm, Sunday at 9:30am & 4:30am (note: schedule is subject to being overridden during sporting and other events)

 

Film Haiku: Water Cycle, Georgie Friedman, 2108

Georgie Friedman, Film Haiku: Water Cycle, Four Corners of the Earth: 120° W | 120° E | 65° N | 65° S, (2018) Film Haiku: Water Cycle is a meditative video that focuses on various details and observations of water forms. Over sixty minutes, the video advances through several sections: fog filling the blue sky and landscape; a summer rain and hail storm; a rainbow that lasts through sunset; a quiet pond with minimalistic rings and ripples created by aquatic life; icebergs moving through a glacial lagoon; thunderhead clouds from above; mesmerizing reflections in river swirls; and the scale defying landscape of Antarctica and its giant icebergs. Friedman created the custom piece with the intent of foregrounding and adding to the light, airy, and natural ambiance of the 100 Federal Street atrium. She filmed the footage in Oregon, Massachusetts, Iceland, Thailand, Borneo, and Antarctica (in order of appearance) from 2008-2017.

Schedule for Film Haiku: Water Cycle, Four Corners of the Earth: 120° W | 120° E | 65° N | 65° S: Monday at 5:30pm & 11:30pm, Tuesday at 9:30am & 10pm, Wednesday at 2:30pm & 8:30pm, Thursday at 7pm & 5am, Friday at 5:30pm & 3:30am, Saturday at 4pm & 2am, Sunday at 2:30am & 12:30am (note: schedule is subject to being overridden during sporting and other events)

 

Sigils for Storms, Christen Shea, 2018

Sigils for Storms by Christen Shea is a meditation on digital divination and different forms of mysticism and ritual in new media using 3D simulation and animation. Based on readings from the iching and sigils both generated through online platforms, Sigils for Storms reimagines rituals of activation and manifestation in virtual space through 3D simulated bodies of water and symbolic animated affirmations.

Schedule for Sigils for Storms: Monday at 2pm, 3:30pm &1:30am, Tuesday at 12am, Wednesday at 10:30pm, Thursday at 10am & 9pm, Friday at 7:30pm, Saturday at 6pm & 4am, Sunday at 4:30pm & 2:30am (note: schedule is subject to being overridden during sporting and other events)

 

Mixing Simulation, Mark J. Stock, 2017-2018

Mixing Simulation #155 by Mark Stock was created using custom software and algorithms. Some of the very first computer-based generative simulations (of weapons physics in the 1950s and 1960s) used a method within which information is exchanged between neighboring cells in a regular grid. While general “cellular automata” that emerged from that research can use any set of rules, simulation of natural phenomena requires specific algorithms. To create this computational generative work, the artist developed a novel scheme to simulate virtual fluids with effectively no viscosity, and another algorithm which treats color as a dimensional space. The result is this hour-long video of virtual fluids in perpetual interaction and shimmering color.

Schedule for Mixing Simulation #155: Monday at 10:30am & 9:30pm, Tuesday at 8pm, Wednesday at 9am, 6:30pm & 4:30am, Thursday at 5pm & 3am, Friday at 3:30pm & 1:30am, Saturday at 2pm & 12am, Sunday at 10:30pm (note: schedule is subject to being overridden during sporting and other events)

 

About the Artists

Georgie Friedman (USA) is an interdisciplinary artist whose projects include large-scale video installations, single and multi-channel videos and several photographic series. She is interested in our psychological and societal relationships to mild and severe natural phenomena. She investigates a wide range of powerful atmospheric and oceanic conditions, and is fascinated by the power of these natural elements in relationship to human fragility. She utilizes photography, video, sound, installation, engineering and the physics of light, all in order to create new experiences for viewers. She earned her MFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston in conjunction with Tufts University and her BA from UC, Santa Cruz. Professionally, she has taught at Massachusetts College of Art and Boston College, among other institutions. Friedman was one of the first Artists-in-Residence with The City of Boston (Boston AIR, 2016). In 2017 she traveled to Antarctica via a SMFA/Tufts University Traveling Fellowship, the results of which will be shown in a solo exhibition at the MFA, Boston in 2019. Friedman has been commissioned to create site-specific video-based public art pieces and has exhibited in national and international venues including: Geneva International Film Festival, Virtual Territories: 360° Immersive Fulldome, Switzerland (2017); City Hall Park, BCA Gallery, City of Burlington, VT (2017); City Hall (exterior), Boston, MA (2017); The Cleveland Museum of Art, OH (2016); Union College, NY (solo, 2016); Strand Theatre (exterior), MA (Boston AIR project, solo, 2016); Shelburne Museum, VT (2016); College of the Holy Cross,  MA (solo, 2015); Roberts Gallery, Lunder Art Center, Lesley University College of Art and Design, MA (solo, 2015); The Armory Center for the Arts, CA (2013); Peabody Essex Museum,  MA (2011); deCordova Sculpture Park & Museum, MA (2010).

Dennis Miller received his Doctorate in Music Composition from Columbia University and is a Full Professor Emeritus from Northeastern University in Boston, from which he retired in 2018 after 37 years of teaching. His mixed media works, which illustrate principles drawn from music composition applied to the visual domain, have been presented at numerous venues throughout the world, most recently the London Experimental Film Festival, the Hong Kong Arthouse Film Festival, the Punta y Raya Festival (Karlsruhe, Germany), the New York City Electroacoustic Music Festival, the Festival 2 Visages Des Musique Électroacoustiques (Brussels), the Free Spirit Film Festival (Himachal Pradesh, India) and the Largo Film Awards screening (Lahksa, Tibet). Exhibits of his 3D still images have been held at the Boston Computer Museum and the Biannual Conference on Art and Technology, and are published in Sonic Graphics: Seeing Sound (Rizzoli Books) and Art of the Digital Age (Thames and Hudson).

Christen Shea is a visual artist based in Boston and Chicago, working with 3D simulation, animation and sculpture.

Karl Sims is a digital media artist and visual effects software developer. He was the founder of GenArts, Inc., a creator of special effects software tools for the motion picture industry. He previously held positions at Thinking Machines Corporation, Optomystic, and Whitney/Demos Productions. Karl studied computer graphics at the MIT Media Lab, and Life Sciences as an undergraduate at MIT. He is the recipient of various awards including two ARS Electronica Golden Nicas and a MacArthur Fellowship Award.

Mark J. Stock is an artist, scientist, and programmer who creates still and moving images and objects combining elements of nature, physics, chaos, computation, and algorithm. Mark eschews the ‘black box’ nature of commercial software—his work is exclusively created with scientifically-accurate research software, mostly of his own design. He has been showing work since 2000 and has been in over 90 curated and juried exhibitions since 2001, including Ars Electronica, ASPECT Magazine, and seven SIGGRAPH Art Galleries. He has spoken at numerous scientific, graphics, and art conferences and workshops, and has published papers in a variety of fields. Mark completed his PhD in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Michigan in 2006 and works out of his studio in Boston, Massachusetts. He is represented in California by SENSE Fine Art.