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Golan Levin and Collaborators

Essays and Statements

Artist Statement, October 2005

Golan Levin, October 2005.

I am interested in the medium of response, and in the conditions that enable people to experience “flow”, or sustained creative feedback with reactive systems. In this regard I have found inspiration in the engaging interactive artworks of Myron Krueger and Toshio Iwai, and in the research of cognitive psychologist Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi. I am drawn to the revelatory potential of information visualization – whether brought to bear on a single participant, the world of data we inhabit, or the formal aspects of mediated communication itself. Here I have drawn from many teachers in the disciplines of conceptual art and information design. And I am fascinated by how abstraction can connect us to a reality beyond language, and the ways in which our gestures and traces, thus abstracted, can reveal the unique signatures of our spirits. My recent projects have explored the gestures of the hand and voice; in my new work, I now turn to the gestures of the eye, with the aim of creating engrossing, uncanny and provocative interactions structured by gaze.

In my artistic process, I devise new forms of interactive media in order to explore novel conduits for non-verbal expression and communication. I then employ these systems in installations and performances which strive to be educational, whimsical, and sublime. The work I propose here represents a conceptual and aesthetic inquiry into a relatively under-explored mode of human-machine communication: interactions which are enacted with, and in response to, our gaze. As my systems are designed to be open-ended, I cannot predict what will transpire between visitor and machine. This unknowability is a core condition and motivation for my experimental art-research.

Experience has taught me that user observation is an invaluable design technique in the development and refinement of interactive artworks. After watching literally thousands of adults, children and seniors interact with my previous projects, I have come to the conclusion that — when I am fortunate enough to have designed an interesting and intelligible interaction — it often has a broad appeal that is not restricted demographically. For this reason, I intend no cheekiness when I state my intentions: that the audience for my body-tracking artworks should be anyone with a body, and the audience for my eye-tracking artworks should be anyone with eyes.

For the past decade, I have chiefly made interactive software artworks. I am now interested in branching out into much more physical forms, such as interactive mechatronic sculpture. My aim is to develop themes of interactivity in more tactile ways than have yet been possible for me, and to more deeply subvert and engage people’s extensive psychophysical intuitions about the world.