MKE Journal Sentinel

Visual Arts Splash Fall Season with Color: Must-see exhibits, projects are on the calendar
This article by Mary-Louise Schumacher appeared in both the online and print editions of the MJS

MJS-Rippling

With a number of shows that look at the landscape through a 21st-century lens — whether Nathaniel Stern’s underwater impressions, Terese Agnew’s contemplation of layered epochs, Pegi Christiansen’s walks through a sculpture garden or John Shimon and Julie Lindemann looking at the state of Wisconsin as a medium of sorts — the coming months promise many ways to consider the world.

Here are some visual art exhibits and projects not to miss in the coming months, including several that will be open for Gallery Night & Day, the citywide art crawl this Friday evening and Saturday.

Nathaniel Stern

Tory Folliard Gallery, 233 N. Milwaukee St.

This is pretty much Nathaniel Stern’s year. While he’s shown some of his collaborative works in Milwaukee for some years, he has not shown the solo work he is most known for internationally. For this work, he straps a scanner, laptop and custom battery pack to his body and “performs into existence” his strange and beautiful artworks. What’s more he does this in and under water with a special rig made at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. There are moments of intense clarity that surface from the visual skips and drags. These 21st-century versions of Impressionism debut Friday at the Tory Folliard Gallery. Stern will speak at 1 p.m. Saturday. He also will have work exhibited at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design, 273 E. Erie St., as part of “Vital Technology,” starting Friday and at the Museum of Wisconsin Art starting April 11.

Read the rest of this article in the online or print editions of the MJS

Popular Mechanics

These Stunning Underwater Photos Were Taken With a Desktop Scanner
Tim Newcomb

Stern traverses the land- or seascape with a desktop scanner, computing device + custom-made battery pack, + performs prints into existence.

Rippling Images is a fitting name for Nathaniel Stern’s latest works of art, and in more ways than one. The collection shows off 18 prints captured under the rippling water of a live coral reef near Kay Largo, Fla., and he made those images using a device known for rippling: a desktop scanner.

Stern has been known for more than a decade for his method of scanning landscapes. The inspiration for this aqueous art came when his brother-in-law suggested he take the idea under the sea. Stern says he designed 10 different subaqueous scanner systems, built five to completion, and took three with him underwater. The scanners used custom electronics, plus melted and welded Plexiglas, metal, towels, and even some duct tape to operate in the ocean.

“They leaked, they broke, and they captured things I never wanted and never intended,” he says. But that’s what you get with experimental work.

For Rippling Images, I worked with a team to produce a marine-rated, desktop scanner-based imaging rig, and performed a new series of digital artworks while scuba diving on a live coral reef off the coast of Key Largo in Florida.

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Using custom-made rigs and battery packs, Stern strapped the devices to his back or held them out in front as he swam to capture the beauty and color of the reef and the marine life that frolics nearby.

“My goal was an exhibition where site and technology—their limitations, possibilities, and potentials—take great agency in the constitution and construction of printed forms,” he writes on his website. “I provoke thinking and feeling and movement that never would have came to me had I not worked beyond the scope of what was possible.”

Stern’s images debuted during a July art fair in Johannesburg, South Africa. They now lead a solo Rippling Images show that will run from Oct. 17 through Nov. 15 in the Tory Folliard Gallery in Milwaukee, Wisc.—Stern’s hometown. A scan through the 18 prints can toss a ripple into what you thought possible from a nearly antiquated piece of electronics.

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See the original article on Popular Mechanics.

MKE Journal Sentinel

Artist Nathaniel Stern scans a subaqueous terrain
This article by Mary-Louise Schumacher appeared in both the online and print editions of the MJS

sub-aqueous-terrain

If memory serves, the first time I laid eyes on Nathaniel Stern, it was in a Facebook profile picture years ago. He was standing up to his chest in a lily pond, a straw hat tipped over his brow and sweeping what looked like a desktop scanner over the surface of the water. I remember thinking, “Who is this modern-day Claude Monet pondering perception in new ways?”

Since then, I’ve had the chance to get to know Stern, who is a contributor to Art City, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s online journal about art, architecture, design and the urban landscape. And while I’ve seen many of his installations, prints and videos here in Milwaukee, I’ve not had the chance to see some of his highly unusual scanner work, except in online reproductions and a few small prints.

Though they’ve been exhibited elsewhere in the world, including South Africa, they’ll be exhibited here for the first time at the Tory Folliard Gallery in October. For his more recent scanner pieces, Stern straps on the scanner, laptop and custom battery pack and “performs images into existence.” Lately, this process has taken Stern beneath the water’s surface to subaqueous terrain, too.

Truth be told, by today’s standards, scanners are pretty quaint technology, not the kinds of machines one typically dunks in the drink. Stern not only took months of diving lessons to be able to do this work, he spent countless hours with a team at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee designing a special rig for his equipment, which leaked horribly in the first several attempts.

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Nathaniel Stern has a desktop scanner strapped to his body while scuba diving to create his latest series of art images.

The resulting images, some made on a coral reef off the coast of Key Largo in Florida, are beautiful and strange. I can’t wait to see them on the gallery wall. I’m reminded of the way the mind perceives, less directly than we might imagine, filling in pieces of what we see not unlike the way computers fill in pixels based on sophisticated, technology-driven guesses. There are moments of intense clarity that surface from the visual skips and drags. They are so otherly, but the images will also be familiar to anyone used to the digital hiccups of the 21st century.

As a writer at Gizmodo asked, maybe this is how fish see the world.

“The resulting artworks are full of care, thought, and wonder,” states the website for the Tory Folliard Gallery, 233 N. Milwaukee St. The show opens Oct. 17.

Mary Louise Schumacher is the Journal Sentinel’s art and architecture critic. Follow her coverage at Art City: www.jsonline.com/artcity.

See the original article by Mary-Louise Schumacher online or in print.

Juxtapoz

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After much trial and even more error, artist Nathaniel Stern was finally able to create an underwater casing for a flatbed scanner. With the help of a team, Stern was able to develop custom software and hardware that he would use with his underwater scanner while scuba diving off the coast of Key Largo, Florida in a live coral reef. The resulting images are bold abstractions of the coral that Stern captured with his scanner and mirrors the ripples of water in the way the scanner creates each composition.

text by Canbra Hodsdon

Metallic print (2014); 500 x 1000 mm

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Metallic print (2014); 500 x 1000 mm

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metallic print (2014); 300 x 500 mm

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metallic print (2014); 300 x 500 mm

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metallic print (2014); 300 x 500 mm

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metallic print (2014); 300 x 500 mm

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metallic print (2014); 210 x 305 mm

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metallic print (2014); 210 x 305 mm

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metallic print (2014); 210 x 305 mm

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metallic print (2014); 210 x 305 mm

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metallic print (2014); 210 x 305 mm

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metallic print (2014); 210 x 305 mm

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metallic print (2014); 130 x 200 mm

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metallic print (2014); 130 x 200 mm

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TAF Catalog

Interview: Nathaniel Stern, Featured Artist
Photos: Nathaniel Stern
Publisher: Turbine Art Fair, Johannesburg
Date of Publication: 2014
Language: English

Read / download the scan.

TAF-catalog

engadget

 This artist waterproofed a scanner to create stunning ocean art
James Trew for Engadget

Nathaniel Stern dives beneath the sea armed with DIY photography rigs toggled from custom electronics. The artist's results? Bizarre and beautiful.

“In my ongoing series of “Compressionism” prints, I strap a desktop scanner, computing device and custom battery pack to my body, and perform images into existence.” That’s how artist Nathaniel Stern describes his collection of unconventional images captured with a desktop scanner. An extension of this project is “Rippling Images,” a new collection which takes the idea underwater. Stern worked with a team to create a “marine rated” scanner rig, which he took with him as he scuba-dived off the coast of Key Largo, florida. The results in the gallery below show the ocean environment as interpreted through Stern’s scanner and body movements. That explains the rippling part, at least.

Metallic print (2014); 500 x 1000 mm

mangrove

Metallic print (2014); 500 x 1000 mm

reef

metallic print (2014); 500 x 1000 mm

school

metallic print (2014); 300 x 500 mm

composition

metallic print (2014); 300 x 500 mm

flower

metallic print (2014); 300 x 500 mm

fossilized

metallic print (2014); 300 x 500 mm

jellyfish

metallic print (2014); 300 x 500 mm

mushroom

metallic print (2014); 300 x 500 mm

shallow

metallic print (2014); 210 x 305 mm

formation

metallic print (2014); 210 x 305 mm

bryum

metallic print (2014); 210 x 305 mm

fanning

metallic print (2014); 210 x 305 mm

fishness

metallic print (2014); 210 x 305 mm

metallic

metallic print (2014); 210 x 305 mm

soft

metallic print (2014); 130 x 200 mm

aqueous

metallic print (2014); 130 x 200 mm

shoring

metallic print (2014); 130 x 200 mm

surfacing

See original slideshow and post on Engadget

Incident Magazine

Polaroid Excavations: the Opening of Weather Patterns: The Smell of Red
Angeli Sion for Incident Magazine

Weather Patterns: The Smell of Red, a sensorial and collaborative ecological installation, surfaced to air the proposition of artists Erin Manning and Nathaniel Stern, co-produced with Marcelino Barsi [and curated by Jennifer Johung], to heighten an exchange of the senses in a body that barely registers the arrival of intersensoriality.

Tapping into weather as a medium via architectural and sculptural elements, the installation materialized conditions for bodies to come together in unexpected ways across becoming mercurial fields. The appearance of a tornado becomes contingent on the bodies around it. At a certain alignment of body and object, a dancing of the field occurs.

Coinciding the same evening as the installation were Juliana España Keller’s “Food Gestures“ and Michael Hornblow’s explorations of the infrathin with “OmegaVille”. Keller’s installation of hanging glass terrariums offered food such as almonds, blueberries, dried ginger, and reindeer moss from Quebec in the yard. In its poetic gesture to foraging and the act of reaching and going back to the earth it enacted an exchange of knowledge. Through video and online photo spheres downstairs, Hornblow produced an exchange of perceived space at the interface of insides and outsides, street to gallery, through conflating layers of time.

Although all three installations generated participatory conditions in disparate locations throughout Glasshouse, the long-term art-life-lab project and space of Lital Dotan and Eyal Perry, their undercurrents converged through and across the bodies of those who came the night of the opening, back and forth in loops, transforming the senses.

The following Polaroids mark this dancing of the field between bodies in performing their own mutable states, excisions into inside, outside the image, and material engagement with image-making as one that unfolds over time.

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Weather Patterns: The Smell of Red, was a sensorial and collaborative ecological installation, produced by Erin Manning and Nathaniel Stern with Marcelino Barsi, coinciding with installation Food Gestures by Juliana España Keller and OmegaVille by Michael Hornblow the same evening at Glasshouse, June 1, 2014.

See original post in Incident Magazine

De Arte

Interactive art and embodiment: The implicit body as performance
Reviewed by Rob Myers for De Arte
Nathaniel Stern. Interactive art and embodiment: The implicit body as performance. 2013. Canterbury: Glyphi Limited. £ 18.99.

This review is copyrighted and available from Sabinet, though some highlights follow:

Abstract
In Interactive art and embodiment, artist and art theorist Nathaniel Stern develops and applies a rigorous set of frameworks for reconsidering the concepts of interactive multimedia, performance, and the creation of bodily meaning and experience. Stern begins by building a lineage for his novel understanding of these ideas. He then develops a framework for the critical evaluation of interactive art based on this understanding, and applies it to some exemplary artworks. Finally he applies the parts of this framework that are relevant for non-interactive multimedia art to some well-known examples of that genre in order to show their further applicability.

“The book as a whole continues this concern both with bodily experience through interactive art and with grounding discourse in examples of art and criticism.”

“By collapsing and making strange what we think we know both intuitively and critically about our bodies as ‘performed and emerging emergence’, Stern lays the concept of the body open to productive re-thinking.”

“Interactive art, Stern argues, can interrupt and intervene in the performance of bodily relationality. ‘Moving- thinking-feeling’ is both limited by and amplified by art, as it is by games or drama.”

“Stern’s use of examples – both familiar and unfamiliar – illustrates the strength of the implicit body framework and makes it useful both to critics and to artists who wish to better understand what makes successful interactive art.”

“The implicit body framework concentrates on artistic enquiry and process rather than the ontology of such a piece, and on the experience of it as interaction and interactivity, beyond merely describing its technological construction or mechanical appearance. Doing so allows interactive art to stand or fall on its merits as interactive art, and highlights the value of a work…”

“Interactive art and embodiment makes a considerable contribution to the state of criticism andtheory of interactive art. It is useful for critics, theorists and artists who wish to further their understanding of interactive art and serves as an introduction to its worth for those unfamiliar with or unconvinced by it.”

Read the entire review in De Arte

Art Journal

Beyond Technology and Representation: What Can Interactive Art Do?
Nathaniel Stern. Interactive Art and Embodiment: The Implicit Body as Performance. Canterbury, UK: Gylphi, 2013. 291 pp., 41 color ills. $29.99 paper
Troy Rhoades, for CAA’s Art Journal, Spring 2014
Download Art Journal’s PDF spread of  this article from Taylor and Francis

Forget technology.
Forget representation.
Remember the body.
Re-member: Embody again (6).

In Interactive Art and Embodiment: The Implicit Body as Performance, Nathaniel Stern would like us to remember the body’s potential for moving, thinking, and feeling in relation to digital interactive artworks. He wants this triumvirate of bodily activities – what he defines as embodiment – to be placed in the foreground of thought when we discuss interactive art. It is his contention that technology and representational content have been the focal points of interactive art for too long, and it is time for a paradigm shift. “We must get away from concentrating only on the signs and images on the screen or the interface, away from privileging the technology and what it affords. We must engage with the quality and styles of movement that are rehearsed with interactive art” (15–16). Stern sees the need to stop explaining what interactive art is as a technological object or a generator of signs. He asserts instead that our attention should be placed on what interactive art does as it shapes our potential for embodiment, that is, our ability to move-think-feel with the work. It is important to note that Stern is not completely rejecting technological and representational approaches to interactive art and solely focusing on embodiment. Rather, he wants us to notice that there is a glaring absence of embodiment in many of the present methods used to analyze this type of work. This book is his attempt to address the long-overdue need to reevaluate this field of art. He reveals that we have always been moving-thinking-feeling with interactive art.

Stern begins his reassessment of interactive art by clearly defining his approach to this work. First, he declares that he will not value or define the potential of any individual artwork categorically: “I begin and end with singular works in the gallery space, and am interested in creating a discrete critical framework for encountering interactive art” (5). Stern then defines the interactive artwork as digital and electronic art that uses “various forms of sensors or cameras for input; computers, microcontrollers, simple electronic circuits, or other digital or analogical terminals for processing; and any form of sensory output – audiovisual, tactile, olfactory, mechanical, or otherwise; where all are placed together in a system that responds to the embodied participation of viewers, either in real-time, and/or over lengths of time” (5–6). From here Stern states that his theoretical approach is aligned with process philosophy and affect theory, primarily based on the work of the philosopher Brian Massumi, in order to “explore interactive art’s potential, outside of signification alone” (9).1 By approaching interactive art from an affective and processual approach, Stern associates himself with other contemporary new media thinkers (some of whom he cites) such as Anna Munster, Steve Goodman, and Stamatia [Portanova].2

With his approach and theoretical foundation clearly stated, Stern delineates in the first two chapters how recent research practices in interactive art, which have focused on technology and representation, connect and diverge from his understanding of embodiment as the body’s potential for moving-thinking-feeling. In the first chapter Stern tackles the notion that digital technology is somehow incorporeal, as espoused by thinkers such as Friedrich Kittler and David Rodowick.3 He argues against the notion that data, computational processes, and networks do not have any physical presence or materiality. For Stern all of these technologies and digital processes take on some physical form, on hard drives, computer chips, or fiber-optic cables: “Neither bodies nor information can exist without form and embodiment, and intelligence encompasses far more than informational processing” (33). Stern wants us to be aware not only of the corporeal aspects of digital and electronic technology that interactive art uses but also how we are affected and effected when participating in these technologies. He sees a real challenge in keeping “the participant’s attention on the quality of their own movements, rather than the response of the machine” (45). In Stern’s view, we need to become more attuned to the moving-thinking-feeling experience we have with interactive art, rather than focusing on the technology that drives the work.

In the second chapter Stern challenges recent thought concerning the body and representation in interactive art. He asks that we pay attention to the body as “more than its signs and significations, more than what we see or look at, more than skin, flesh, and bone” (54–55). According to Stern, for a body to be understood as a series of signs or an object, it needs to be static or “pre-formed,” like the many static points of Zeno’s famous arrow. A body becomes “explicit,” lacking any potential to experience embodiment. For a body to move-think-feel, Stern contends, it must be seen as a continuously changing entity that “situates embodiment as always per-formed: emergent and relational” (67). A body that experiences the ongoing activity of embodiment during an encounter with interactive art is, for Stern, an “implicit body” as performance.

After critiquing technological and language-based approaches to interactive art, Stern outlines a potentially paradigm-shifting method for understanding interactive art and embodiment through what he calls the “implicit body framework.” This framework comprises four areas of examination: “artistic inquiry and process; artwork description; inter-activity; and, relationality” (91). The first area looks at the artwork from the artist’s perspective, focusing on his or her approach to the work and the techniques chosen for its production. The second area gives us a detailed description of the artwork: how it looks, sounds, and plays. For Stern, these first two areas of examination are standard in most investigations of interactive art. They also represent the point at which most inquiries stop. As he states, “most visually-, technically-, and linguistically-based writing on interactive art explains that a given piece is interactive, and how it is interactive, but not how we inter-act” (91, emphasis in orig.).

Stern sees the third and fourth areas of examination – interactivity and relationality – as the missing elements in discussions of interactive art. The two areas focus on the potential for an awareness of embodiment to emerge in the viewer-artwork encounter; they foreground our capacity to move-think-feel our potential for change when we experience interactive art. The third area specifically examines the interaction itself, that is, how viewers and artworks connect at the level of embodiment. It focuses on the emergent affects, feelings, and movements generated in the midst of the viewer-artwork encounter. The final area of examination focuses on the relations that emerge in our encounter with interactive art and how these “relationships intervene in our transformation with the world around us” (97). Stern wants us to become aware of the extensive potential for relations to alter and affect our ability to move, think, and feel with regard to an interactive artwork.

In the next three chapters Stern presents a series of case studies using his implicit body framework, approaching several interactive artworks under three different thematics: body-language, social-anatomies, and flesh-space. For Stern these thematics reveal various emergent relations between embodiment and some other sensible concept, such as “language, society, architecture, other matter, forces, and matters” (97–98). The body-language chapter examines the work of Simon Penny and Camille Utterback and its parallels with Jean-Luc Nancy’s notion of “excription,” looking specifically at body and language as “mutually immanent” (104). The social-anatomies chapter investigates Nick Crossley’s idea of “intercorporeality” – the capacity for the body and society to reciprocally produce each other – through the work of the Millefiore Effect, Mathieu Briand, and Scott Snibbe. The third thematic chapter, on flesh-space, approaches the interactive work of David [Rokeby], Rafael Lezano-Hemmer, and Norah Zuniga Shaw through the thought of José Gil and Erin Manning, investigating the ability of these artworks to make viewers aware of the ways in which “bodies and space are made of their relations” (176). These three chapters demonstrate Stern’s implicit body framework as rigorous yet flexible when applied to the analysis of interactive art.

In the penultimate chapter Stern takes his implicit body framework further, demonstrating that it can be used beyond the limits of interactive art. He investigates a large cross-section of new-media works by artists such as Erwin Driessens and Maria Verstappen, Brandon Labelle, and John F. Simon, Jr., as well as his own work, which he calls “potentialized art.” For Stern all of these works have the capacity to “amplify action, affect, embodiment, performativity, transformation, and/or materiality” (206). Potentialized art enables us to become aware of our ability to move-think-feel with a work in the midst of our mutual encounter. We can experience the potential for embodiment as we perform with these artworks. We can become aware of our ability to move-think-feel.

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The most rewarding and riskiest chapter of Stern’s book is saved for the end. “In Production (A Narrative Inquiry on Interactive Art)” is a case study of Stern’s own art and writing practices from 2000 to the present. What makes this chapter such a rewarding and refreshing read is that it is written in an unconventional autobiographical style that is also academically rigorous, a style Stern calls an “autoethnographic experiment” (254). This experiment blends conversations, personal narrative, and several analyses of his interactive artworks using his implicit body framework in order to “amplify” and “potentialize” the reading experience (259). Stern consolidates everything he has advocated about the relationship between embodiment and interactive art into a personal story about himself and his work, effectively exposing us to an example of the experience of moving-thinking-feeling that we have been reading about throughout the book.

Stern’s experimental approach to writing is also one of this chapter’s many risks. There is the possibility that more traditional readers of art theory and history may find such a self-referential and unconventionally written account off-putting, even jarring. However, Stern’s storytelling ability is strong and will likely win over even the most curmudgeonly reader. Another risk this chapter takes is the form in which it has been published. The book surprisingly ends by giving us only the introductory section of this concluding chapter. We are invited to go online to view or download the remaining sections (253, 259).4 We are allowed just a taste of this chapter and then must shift our attention from the written page to the written screen. The risk here is that readers may be lost in this transition from the book to the Internet, leaving some of Stern’s best writing unread.

The book is part of the Arts Future Book initiative, a research project and academic book series investigating the future of academic publishing in the arts, led by Charlotte Frost. Placing this final chapter online appears to be part of the series’ mandate to exploit “recent technological advances in publishing” (xxi). Readers who go online and read the complete text of “In Production” will find the possibility to interact with others, in the ability to make comments at every paragraph. This gives readers a platform to share thoughts about some of their favorite (or less agreeable) passages. The ability to comment is an appealing feature, but publishing this chapter online has the potential to take away some of its affective impact. Moreover, it feels like an unnecessary use of digital technology, one that does not appear to follow the spirit of the book, as the online publication breaks a sense of continuity and makes it more difficult to experience moving-thinking-feeling in the work itself. As Stern states, “Embodiment only is through its ongoingness and continuity” (57, emphasis in orig.). If this chapter – which encapsulates everything Stern advocates with regard to interactive and potentialized art – were printed in its entirety at the end of the book, readers would have a better opportunity to experience the embodied potential the book commands. Despite these misgivings, everyone who reads Stern’s book (and those who are interested in reading it) should visit the website and discover the complete text of this wonderful final chapter.

It will be interesting to see how those behind the Arts Future Book series continue to explore the potential that digital and online media offers to expand the form of the book. Interactive Art and Embodiment is the first from this series, making it the first to experiment with the hybrid approach to publishing. I hope the editors will embrace Stern’s notion of embodiment and ensure that digital incarnations of future titles emerge from the potential activated within the texts themselves.

By asking us to engage with interactive art at the level of potential for movement, thinking, and feeling, Stern alters the idea of what inquiry can be, changing it from an analysis of something static into a dynamic event. The act of examination becomes as much a performance as the interactive art it investigates. Through the use of Stern’s implicit body framework, artworks become more than mere descriptions placed within a historical context. Through his writing, artworks become alive in the reading, giving us a sense of how the embodied interactions and emergent relations feel as they are encountered.

1. Throughout the book, Stern focuses on three of Massumi’s texts: Brian Massumi, Parables for the Virtual: Movement, Affect, Sensation (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2002); “The Thinking-Feeling of What Happens: An Interview with Brian Massumi,” in Interact or Die: There Is Drama in the Network, ed. Joke Brouwer and Arjen Mulder (Rotterdam: V2 Pub./NAi, 2007), 70–91; and Semblance and Event: Activist Philosophy and the Occurent Arts (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2011)

2. See Anna Munster, Materializing New Media: Embodiment in Information Aesthetics (Hanover, NH: Dartmouth College Press, 2006); Steve Goodman, Sonic Warfare: Sound, Affect, and the Ecology of Fear (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2009); and Stamatia Portanova, Moving without a Body: Digital Philosophy and Choreographic Thoughts (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2013).

3. See Friedrich Kittler, Gramophone, Film, Typewriter (Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press, 1999); and David N. Rodowick, Reading the Figural, or, Philosophy after the New Media (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2001).

4. The concluding chapter in its entirety is at http://stern.networkedbook.org, as of February 11, 2014.

Download the Journal’s PDF spread of  this article from Taylor and Francis

CNET

Homemade undersea scanner finds strange new world
Nathaniel Stern dives beneath the sea armed with DIY photography rigs toggled from custom electronics. The artist’s results? Bizarre and beautiful.
by Leslie Katz for CNET

Nathaniel Stern dives beneath the sea armed with DIY photography rigs toggled from custom electronics. The artist's results? Bizarre and beautiful.
This rig has a bicycle valve so Stern can vacuum-seal it closed when he goes underwater. He got it down to 30 feet before experiencing leaks.

It’s easy to find a good compact underwater camera, but artist Nathaniel Stern opted to go a different route for his deep-sea imaging. Really different. He strapped on homemade rigs built from custom electronics and software, melted and welded plexiglass, plastic bags, duct tape, and other bits and bobs and proceeded to dive into the subaqueous world.

The resulting odd and beautiful renderings make up “Rippling Images,” a new series of fluid and often-abstract images of flora and fauna created as Stern and his marine-rated contraptions dove along a live coral reef off the coast of Key Largo in Florida. Because Stern wears the gizmos, his movements help compose the shots, some of which would look more at home hanging in the Museum of Modern Art than among other, more typical undersea photographs.

As he puts it, “I perform images into existence.”

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Stern gets up close with a three-eyed undersea creature, or maybe that’s just the photographic effect.

“My movements underwater, my relations to life and gravity, what I see and cannot see, fish and plants, breathing and fluidity, all affect and are affected as these images [are] being made,” Stern, a professor of art and design at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Peck School of the Arts, says on the project’s website.

Nathaniel Stern dives beneath the sea armed with DIY photography rigs toggled from custom electronics. The artist's results? Bizarre and beautiful.
Nathaniel Stern dives beneath the sea armed with DIY photography rigs toggled from custom electronics. The artist’s results? Bizarre and beautiful.

The images are an outgrowth of Stern’s ongoing “Compressionism” series, in which he hitches a flat-bed desktop scanner, computing device, and custom battery pack to his body and moves through the terrestrial world doing things like swinging over flowers or jumping over bricks to capture images of objects and spaces. When he captures a shot, every part of the image is broken up into moments of time because of how the scanner beam moves across the surface of the scanner and how Stern maneuvers the entire custom rig across the landscape.

For the aqueous version of his art, Stern spent three months getting certified to scuba dive. He and his team designed 10 underwater systems, and built 5 of them to completion. He toted 3 of these hacked-together getups under the sea.

“They leaked, they broke, they scanned scratches on the surface of the boxes, they reflected, they captured things that I never wanted and never intended,” Stern reports, “and that is precisely the nature of experimental work.”

Stern, whose art often focuses on how people engage with and experience the world, previously afforded us Earth-bound social-media addicts the chance to tweet to aliens.

“Rippling Images” will be on display at the Turbine Art Fair in Johannesburg from July 17 to 20, and as a solo show at the Tory Folliard Gallery in Milwaukee in October. For a deeper dive (so to speak) into the project, watch this video.

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“Flower,” a digital print on metallic paper. “The colors and hairs and mossy-like textures came out stronger than I ever could have imagined, in formation, soft and aqueous,” Stern told Crave of his technique.

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“Metallic,” one of the “Rippling Images” pieces created with one of Stern’s undersea rigs.

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Some of the works from the series look like they’d be at home at a modern-art museum.

Read the original article on  CNET

Gizmodo

These Underwater Photos Were Taken By a Desktop Scanner
Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan for Gizmodo

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The desktop scanner is a wonderful thing, but rugged it ain’t. Yet Nathaniel Stern didn’t let that stop him: The Wisconsin-based artist, who is known for his experimental camera designs, created a waterproof version of an off-the-shelf scanner that captured a series of incredible images of sea life.

“Everything leaked, everything broke, nothing did what I wanted or expected,” Stern writes on his website about the projectRippling Images, for which he took months of diving courses to become certified to complete it. But the finished product was certainly worth it—here’s how Stern carried it out:

For Rippling Images, I worked with a team to produce a marine-rated scanner rig, including custom hard- and software, and performed a new series of digital works while scuba diving on a live coral reef off the coast of Key Largo in Florida. My goal was an exhibition where where site and technology – their limitations, possibilities and potentials – take greater agency in the constitution and construction of printed forms. My movements underwater, my relations to life and gravity, what I see and cannot see, fish and plants, breathing and fluidity, all affect and are affected in and as these images, being made.

You can check out the complete batch of images on Stern’s website. They’re both bizarre and beautiful, unlike any photos of the marine world I’ve ever seen. It almost feels as though we’re experiencing how fish see the world. [PetaPixel]

See the original post on Gizmodo

Boing Boing

Artistic scanner-photos taken on a coral-reef
Cory Doctorow for Boing Boing

Nathaniel Stern straps modified document scanners to his body and then walks around, producing beautiful, glitched out art-images. Now he’s taken his scanners to the bottom of the ocean.

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For the last decade or so, I’ve been making fine art prints by strapping a desktop scanner, custom battery pack, and computing devices to my body, then traversing the landscape to produce abstract but detailed slit scan imagery… The reasons are threefold: very high resolution; proximity – I’m a part of the landscape I’m capturing, rather than distanced from it (no added lens); and the potency of multiple adjacent times and spaces viewed on a 2D plane.

For the latest in the series, I produced several marine-rated, scuba scanning rigs – metal, plastic and/or polycarbonate, with various forms of gaskets, vacuum seals, and hall effect (magnetically-triggered) buttons to create the scans.

The complete body of work, 18 prints, premiere at the Turbine Art Fair in Johannesburg next week (July 17 – 20). The show comes to Milwaukee WI, where I now live, in October.

Rippling Images

See it on Boing Boing

What Animals Teach Us about Politics

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Cover image: detail from Giverny of the Midwest (2011).

“This is a truly brilliant book, one of Brian Massumi’s best. More than anyone else I have read, Massumi makes real progress in untangling the relationship between play, sympathy, politics, and animality. What Animals Teach us About Politics provides a fascinating and persuasively non-subject-centered account of sympathy, and it goes a long way toward helping us to see how the practice and theorization of ‘politics’ would be radically refigured within a process-ontology.” – Jane Bennett, author of Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things

Title: What Animals Teach Us about Politics
Author: Brian Massumi
Publisher: Duke University Press
Date of Publication: September 2014
Language: English
ISBN-10: 082235800X
ISBN-13: 978-0822358008
Order this book from Amazon.com

PetaPixel

Experimental Underwater Scanner Makes for Beautiful Happy Accidents
Gannon Burgett for PetaPixel

If you enjoy strange and experimental photography, Nathaniel Stern‘s work should delight you.

For the past ten years, Stern has been creating experimental image-capturing devices using a conglomeration of hacked-together desktop scanners, battery packs and other various computer components. Once created, he straps these machines to his body and takes them from location to location capturing images unlike any other camera out there.

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In his latest series, Rippling Images, Stern decided to take his images one step further by venturing to take these experimental camera creations underwater. It didn’t come easy though.

Stern spent months getting certified for a number of open-water diving licenses. And when he wasn’t doing that, he was helping his team piece together what would eventually become the five final models of the device he would be taking underwater.

Made out of everything from welded metal to magnetically-triggered buttons, the devices didn’t actually capture what Stern was hoping for at all. But what they capture, Stern still found beautiful… if not more beautiful than his usual work.

The scratched surfaces of the plastic showed up, unplanned reflections made several appearances, and the images were just overall more experimental than he could’ve ever expected:

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Experiment might as well be Stern’s middle name though, so he took everything in stride and used it as a learning experience, sharing his thoughts in a video that we’ve embedded at the top.

It comes in just shy of three minutes, so give it a quick watch to see Stern and his unusual devices at work, and then head over to his website to see more of his work.

Read the article on PetaPixel

WORT fm

Stern traverses the land- or seascape with a desktop scanner, computing device + custom-made battery pack, + performs prints into existence.The 8’oclock Buzz: Return of the Frankensteined Scanners

Last time we spoke with Milwaukee artist Nathaniel Stern, he was trying to jerry-rig dozens of flatbed scanners to take peculiarly framed, high resolution underwater photographs. Well since then, Nathaniel reports that nearly everything that could possibly go wrong with that project did. Nathaniel Stern joined the Monday Buzz once more by phone from Milwaukee with an update.

Download the mp3 (13mb), or listen to the entire interview about performative printmaking / Compressionism with host Brian Standing:

Thought in the Act

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“Every practice is a mode of thought, already in the act. To dance: a thinking in movement. To paint: a thinking through color. To perceive in the everyday: a thinking of the world’s varied ways of affording itself.” —from Thought in the Act

Title: Thought in the Act: Passages in the Ecology of Experience
Author: Erin Manning and Brian Massumi
Publisher: University Of Minnesota Press
Date of Publication: May 2014
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0816679673
ISBN-13: 978-0816679676
Order this book from Amazon.com

Neural Magazine

Nathaniel Stern – Interactive Art and Embodiment: The Implicit Body as Performance
AURELIO CIANCIOTTA

New book! 'Interactive Art and Embodiment: The Implicit Body as Performance' underscores the stakes for interactive and digital art

GYLPHI LIMITED, ISBN-13: 978-1780240091, ENGLISH, 304 PAGES, 2013, USA

Man/machine interfaces have involved the body in progressively more sophisticated ways, from the mechanical finger pressure on a keyboard to the intellectual challenge of voice-recognition-based software assistants. Media art has interpreted interfaces dynamically, abstracting the interaction and playing with its modalities, symbols and meanings. Stern analyses almost forty different artworks to augment his theory: “interactive art suspends and amplifies the ways we experience embodiment – as per-formed, relational, and emergent”. The text investigates “how we interact” and the role of the body in the interaction process is here exploded and carefully delineated. Many of the connotations that the body assumes in artworks – being perceived as a structure, a tool, a territory or an imagined space – are analysed as performative and symbolic instances. One of the qualities of this book is that it provides extensive references on the topic, while remaining very focused. The artworks are carefully described in their mechanisms and their performative dimensions are acknowledged separately, representing an annotated anthology in itself. There’s also a “digital companion” chapter (called “In Production”, partially printed and freely available online, meant to be updated and expanded at will), which has been aggregated to the book as its dynamic (in a way even performative) extension. This book is very helpful for understanding our physical relationship with the digital and how to properly relate to interactive art.

See the review on Neural.it

Archée

Interactif, implicite, performatif, éprouvé, le corps exploré
Louise Boisclair (read the whole article, or read the google English translation)

Dans Always More Than One, Erin Manning croise philosophie ou mouvement de pensée, chorégraphie ou mouvement du corps, art et autisme. De son côté, avec Interactive Art and Embodiment : The Implicit Body as Performance, Nathaniel Stern propose de considérer le corps implicite dans sa triple relation de mouvement, sensation et pensée lors de l’appropriation interactive. Quant au collectif, Personnage virtuel et corps performatif. Effets de présence, dirigé par Renée Bourassa et Louise Poissant, quinze artistes et théoriciens explorent, chacun, chacune, sous un angle singulier, diverses facettes du corps performatif et du personnage virtuel. Pour sa part, dans L’instance du regard sur le corps éprouvé. Pathos et contre-pathos, Élène Tremblay examine les notions de pathos et contre-pathos à travers l’insistance du regard sur le corps éprouvé. Chaque auteur-e arrime son analyse à la théorie philosophique, médiatique ou phénoménologique selon l’approche singulière ou multiple qu’ils ou elles adoptent pour cheminer avec le corpus sélectionné.


Interactive Art and Embodiment:  The Implicit Body as Performance (Nathaniel Stern)

Pour sa part, l’ouvrage de l’artiste-enseignant-chercheur Nathaniel Stern constitue une refonte de sa thèse de doctorat qu’il a auparavant résumée dans un article intitulé : « The Implicit Body as Performance: Analyzing Interactive Art. », publié dans le Leonardo Journal of Art, Science and Technology (MIT Press). Vol 44, No 3 (2011): 233-238. Globalement, la thèse est la suivante : au lieu de s’en tenir à la vision, à la structure et à la signification, Stern propose de recentrer l’intérêt sur le « corps en relation ». Il conçoit l’interaction en tant que performance et la manière d’être en tant que manière d’« être avec ». Dans un cadre de travail sur le corps implicite au sein de l’installation interactive, il propose une approche qui réunit quatre volets: la recherche et le processus artistique, la description de l’œuvre d’art, l’interactivité et la relationalité. Selon lui, les deux derniers volets propres à l’expérience interactive doivent faire l’objet d’un examen détaillé.

Cette prescription, Stern la met à l’épreuve dans son ouvrage. Composé de huit chapitres dont le huitième introduit un texte à paraître sur le WEB seulement, il met la table dès la première page :

« When we move and think and feel, we are, of course, a body. This body is constantly changing, in and through its ongoing relationships. This body is a dynamic form, full of potential. It is not “a body,” as thing, but embodiment as incipient activity. Embodiment is a continuously emergent and active relation. It is our materialization and articulation, both as they occur, and about to occur. Embodiment is moving-thinking-feeling, it is the body’s potential to vary, it is the body’s relations to the outside. And embodiment, I contend, is what is staged in the best interactive art. » (Stern, 2013, 2)

Lui-même artiste spécialiste de l’art interactif, sa réflexion philosophique, aussi stimulante que novatrice, est ancrée dans le corps implicite, c’est-à-dire ce corps qui vit et déborde le corps vécu, notion renvoyant au corps pensé. Stern invite la recherche à considérer bien davantage les forces et les champs en puissance dans le corps, alors que la corporéité est en « per-formance », ici-maintenant, au sein de l’installation interactive. L’incorporation s’accompagne donc de la métabolisation d’informations sensorielles issues du milieu d’immersion, sorte de sémiose corporelle pré-signifiante. Elle s’apparente au sens dynamique que lui donne Stern:

« The conception of a continuous embodiment, however, allows us to rethink bodies as formed through how we move in, and relate to, our surroundings. Embodiment, I contend, is not a pre-formed thing, but incipient and per-formed. » (Stern, 2013, 12).

Ainsi, la corporéité, dans sa dynamique, n’est pas une chose pré-formée, mais per-formée, insiste Stern; elle n’est pas constituée, elle se constitue. Continuellement en action, la corporéité évolue de façon dynamique au fil de l’incorporation, elle n’est jamais figée.

Tout au long de cet ouvrage, le lecteur, la lectrice rencontrera de nombreux artistes de l’art interactif et immersif, ce qui a le bénéfice non seulement d’illustrer le propos de Stern, mais bien davantage d’incarner sa réflexion philosophique dans une encyclopédie d’art interactif encore en train d’évoluer. Graduellement, au fil des chapitres, Stern joue avec les thèmes performatifs suivants: 1- « Digital is as Digital does »; 2- « The Implicit Body as Performance »; 3- « A Critical Framework for Interactive Art », 4- « Body-Langage » ; 5- « Social Anatomies »; 6- « Flesh-Space »; 7- « Implicating Art Works » et 8- « In production ». Ce livre d’une grande importance rend compte d’une vision actuelle non seulement artistique, mais « spectatorielle » du corps, assisté ou outillé technologiquement, comme on l’est de plus en plus même dans notre vie quotidienne. Bien plus que le corps performant, c’est toujours et encore le « corps implicite » qui sert de fil rouge pour explorer l’art interactif.

Read the whole article, or read the google English translation