Cycles, Tides and Seasons

Cycles, Tides and Seasons, 2012
By Ben Houge
Reception: Thursday May 31st, 8-9 pm at the Harbor Islands Pavilion
Refreshments provided by Nix’s Mate Restaurant

The National Park Service and the Boston Harbor Island Alliance have teamed up with Boston Cyberarts to create a two year art program calling for artists to make work for the two low-resolution screens at the Harbor Island Pavilion on the Greenway Conservancy. This exciting new endeavor will enliven the Greenway in the evening, while promoting the creative innovation of the region.

Cycles, Tides and Seasons

While the Harbor Island Pavilion displays are approximately 6 x 8 feet, they have a resolution of only 48 x 64 pixels, which is not suitable for recognizable video imagery. Therefore, Boston Cyberarts has decided to commission various algorithmic artists to write programs that will create real time generative art that constantly changes.

In an effort to directly relate to the Harbor Islands themselves, the commissioned artists will draw from the National Park’s geographic information system (GIS) databases as a source, but the work will be abstract in nature. This program ties into the innovative strengths of the Boston area, using digital art algorithms to heighten the interest in Boston Harbor’s history and natural complex ecosystems.

The first work commissioned for the program is Cycles, Tides, and Seasons, by Cambridge-based artist Ben Houge. Houge is a algorithmic artist, composer and sound artist. His areas of activity range from computer game design and soundtracks to sacred choral music. Recently, he was artist in residence at the MIT Media Lab and teaches video game music in the Film Scoring Department at Berklee College of Music.

Houge’s Cycles, Tides, and Seasons reconnects Boston city dwellers with the natural environment in Boston Harbor, recalling a time when sustenance and society depended on the rhythms of nature. The piece superimposes data on three different time scales, reflecting the short term rhythms of Boston Harbor’s three lighthouses, the semi-diurnal rhythms of tides and waves (responding to real-time oceanographic information over the internet), and the slow, phenological change of the seasons, as reflected in bee populations on various Boston Harbor Islands.