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25.11.2014

Smart art #madeinIsrael

The Israeli cultural center presented an exhibition of digital art in Kiev: “Art, science and technologies of the future – a view from Israel”

For three days, from 21 to 23 November, a “window on the future” was opened in Kiev that everyone could look into. 16 unique works, created using the capabilities of modern technologies, gave visitors the chance to look at art through “digital glasses”. For example, in” Light Fall”, the art object instantly put the person walking through it under rain made of light; by precisely reproducing the outlines of the body and capturing each movement, the virtual rain changed the way it fell.

People who came to the exhibition on their own could find someone to talk to in the person of the charming robot Travis: “Robotized sub-station with a speaker”, as Travis is officially called, could also play, listen and react to music, played from a smartphone. The author of the work, Guy Hoffman, has used Travis' musical brothers for theatrical and musical performances, where the robots play the leading roles, on equal terms with live actors.


To realize the art project of the Israel cultural center (ICC), three renowned curators were invited – Yael Eylat Van-Essen, Lila Chitayat and Sayfan Burgini, who are also the creators and curators of a similar exhibition at the prestigious festival of art and technology, Ars Electronica, in Linz, Austria.

Yael Eylat Van-Essen is a researcher of new media technologies in museum studies and digital art. When asked whether boundaries exist between digital and classical art, she replied with a question: “Why? Why create boundaries? Art is a means of conveying information, to express your feelings and emotions. Only in the ‘digital’ case, instead of customary tools modern technologies are used.” Despite the lack of boundaries, Yael notes that there are still certain differences. The main one is the possibility of interaction. To replace one-way broadcasting, the era of dialogue comes along – verbal, tactile and emotional. "Artist's role is to critically investigate the cultural and sociological implications of these new modes of interactions and not just show the possibilities enabled by the new technologies". 

As a confirmation of this, we may note that an interactive element lies at the basis of most of the works (almost all of them) – the art object reacts to different actions of the person, and enters into dialogue with them. Just take the work “Cubes”: 20 identical cubes of transparent plastic, each one of which has its own character, and depending on their temperament and mood they may rotate, thump, move, shake, light up… and use another fifteen other ways of expressing emotions.

Emotions are the subject of another art object at the exhibition – “Smilefection”. The idea of the young Israeli artists is that the exhibit should show how naturally infectious smiles can be. Everyone who interacts with the artwork becomes an integral part of it. It works like this: viewers look at changing pictures of people smiling, and as soon as they are “infected” and start to smile themselves, the camera automatically takes a photo of them and adds the new photo to the rotation. The system automatically calculates which photos make others smile the most, thus forming a rating of the “most smilefectious”.

Perhaps the only exhibit that has no interactive element, but is no less interesting, was a ceramic vase printed with a 3D printer. The material of the object is classic for these sorts of ceramics – Chinese porcelain plus a mixture of organic biodegradable materials. This work expands traditional idea of craftsmanship and authorship: the author simply has to program the printer correctly, and the machine does all the “dirty work” for them.

According to Vlad Lerner, a representative of the ICC and the organizer of the event in Kiev, one of the aims of the art performance was to demonstrate the capabilities and potential of Israeli technologies. “Israel today holds one of the top positions in the world in the field of innovation and technology,” Lerner told JewishNews. “Recently our bilateral ties with Ukraine have become deeper, and spheres of cooperation are expanding, and one of them is cooperation in the field of technology.” After visiting the art exhibition, you could confidently say that the demonstration of Israel's capabilities in the technology sphere looked very convincing indeed.

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