[-empyre-] Wired sustainability and Ambient Media

Jim Bizzocchi jimbiz at sfu.ca
Sun Apr 13 23:34:37 EST 2008

Thomas and Patricia -

I was very pleased to read about your interest in ambient media. 
"Ambient Media on Plasma" sounds like a terrific exhibition - 

The new flat-panel displays, in conjunction with HD visual standards, 
are having a considerable effect on the moving image.  The video 
picture has never been as large, or as sharp, as it is now.  These 
new displays (and the widespread use of relatively inexpensive yet 
sophisticated cameras and post-production packages) have transformed 
the non-theatrical moving image.  As Gene Youngblood said:  "New 
Tools make for New Images".  One of the directions that is suited to 
the new display technologies is certainly Ambient Video.

I've been working in Ambient Video for several years.   My own 
variation on this form is representational, not interactive, 
slow-paced, and based on natural imagery (primarily the Canadian 
Rockies).  The works have a finite temporal flow, but can loop when 
seen on a DVD.

I think Ambient Video must satisfy the following difficult aesthetic 
   * it should be visually engaging the first time you view it
   * it must never require your attention
   * it must reward your attention at any time with visual interest
   * it must sustain over a great number of repeated viewings

This is a considerable set of challenges.  I know that some of the 
artists listed in Tom's message rely on composition and compelling 
visuals to do this.  Other techniques can include the manipulation of 
the time base, manipulation of the image itself, and the use of slow 
transition (in the spirit of HG's work in an earlier post to this 

I incorporate the above techniques in my work.  You can see my own 
Ambient Video work at:

I also have some papers on Ambient Video on a related website:

My colleagues, the NoMig collective from Montreal and Malcolm Levy 
from Vancouver, are also working on their own variations of this 
form.  Their preferred term is "Video Painting".   NoMig has led in 
the building of a website dedicated to the form: 

A few of the other artists that work in related areas include Douglas 
Siefkin <www.translumen.net>. William Kennedy ("Algonquin Autumn"), 
and "Souvenirs from the Earth" <www.souvenirsfromtheearth.com/>.

I am very pleased to read here that more and more artists are working 
in variations on these forms, and that there is curatorial interest 
in exploring and representing it.  Hope to hear more on this topic.

Thanks for your posts!

Thomas wrote:
>I would say that the definition of ambient media is
>fairly fluid.  The term originally derives, as I
>understand it, from advertising, i.e., ambient media as
>background images of various kinds signifying products
>and brand names.  With the advent of dvds and cheap
>projection devices, sound and image artists are
>now able to proliferate their work into
>previously unavailable public settings.
>G.H., I love the work that you sent. It is truly
>spectacular. The material that we have featured in
>FLEFF, by artists Simon King  African Skies),
>Johanna Vaude (Hybride), Eric Koziol (Ripple in the Eye),
>among others, isn't interactive, but involves looped
>electronic images, often, though not always, with
>sound. While Chevelier's work would seem to necessitate
>a museum or large  gallery space for exhibition, the
>work that we feature, which is commercially available
>(through for example, Microcinema International),
>can be screened anywhere that there is an available
>plasma screen, which includes hotel lobbies, cancer
>treatment centers, hospitals, before cinema screenings,
>and in museums and galleries as well. In this sense, it
>is a form of popular or populist media.
>(Here's a link to our website with the works
>that we screened this year, with descriptions-
>For FLEFF, we project on plasma screens on the
>Ithaca College campus, and projected at a downtown
>club behind local rock bands doing Tom Petty
>covers (as a prefestival benefit to raise money
>for a lakefront trail).  The audiences (and the
>bands) really respond to it, as it generates a
>modernized version of the whole 60s vibe, while
>avoiding simple nostalgia.
>HG wrote:
>  >> Ambient media occupies the forefront of new media practices.
>  >
>>  What do you mean "ambient media."   Is it for example sound
>  > I've done a series of morph still life that run on flat screens.
>  > I called them ambient video. does that fit?
>>  gallery10.html  Recently I met Miguel Chevalier. he doe large
>>  scale
>>  projections of computer generated flora--
>>  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xzuRmpc78PI
>>  Does his work fit your definition of ambient media?  My friend
>>  colleague in France - Peter Sinclair has made a sound art work
>>  that
>>  reacts to the movement of the auto you are driving in an
>>  generates
>>  sounds  ---
>  > Is this ambient media?


jimbiz at sfu.ca     www.dadaprocessing.com    www.ambientvideo.ca

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