Mineral Vision

Filed under: 2015
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Visión mineral consiste en una pantalla de polvo de cobre sostenida por una estructura de madera. Cuando la superficie es observada a través de la cámara de un dispositivo digital -un teléfono movil o una tablet, por ejemplo- el siguiente mensaje, enterrado bajo el cobre, y escrito por primera vez por el historiador romano Tácito, se hace visible: “Crean un desierto y lo llaman paz”.

La pieza descubre al espectador la mirada característica que nos consigna insistentemente el contexto digital: la de un mundo asimilado, legible y procesado por redes de dispositivos ubicuos. El polvo de cobre, rastreado por los móviles de los espectadores -como la superficie de la Tierra, por drones y satélites- queda transformado en pantalla, en emisor de lenguajes humanos, en espera de dispositivos clientes.

Visión mineral, sin embargo, va más allá de la posibilidad de la decodificación. El cobre, elemento indispensable de la infraestructura digital, aparece en primer plano como una presencia material, bruta y a-lingüística. Frente a la explotación industrial de minerales y personas, el diálogo electrónico es un encuentro de escalas y duraciones, la geológica y la humana.

Si, como apuntaba Spinoza, “no somos nosotros quienes afirmamos o negamos algo de una cosa, sino que es ella misma quien afirma o niega en nosotros algo de sí misma”, Visión mineral afirma en nosotros las palabras del científico ruso de fin de siglo, Vladimir Vernadsky: “Somos minerales caminantes, minerales parlantes”.

Mineral Vision consists of a screen made of copper dust hold by a wood structure. When the surface is observed through the lens of a digital device -e.g. a smartphone or tablet- a message, buried in the copper, and written for the first time by Roman historian Tacit, becomes visible: “Where they create a desert, they call it peace”.

The pieces unveils to the viewer the characteristic gaze that the digital context persistently demands: that of an assimilated and legible world, processed by networks of ubiquitous devices. Copper dust, scanned by smartphones of viewers -as the surface of the Earth, by drones and satellites- becomes a screen, a human language emitter, waiting for client devices.

Mineral Vision, however, intends to transcend the possibility of decoding. Copper, a basic element within the digital infrastructure, appears in the forefront as a material presence, raw and a-linguistic. Instead of an industrial exploitation of minerals and humans, the electronic dialogue is an encounter of scales and durations, the geologic and the human.

If, as Spinoza noted, “it is never we who affirm or deny something of a thing; it is the thing itself that affirms or denies something in us”, Mineral Vision affirms in us the words of russian scientist of early 20th, Vladimir Vernadsky: “We are walking, talking minerals.”

Visión Mineral from Abelardo Gil-Fournier on Vimeo.

Me gusta. Fábrica de visión mineral

Filed under: 2015
Santa Lucia, Francesco del Cossa (1472-1473) Santa Lucia, Francesco del Cossa (1472-1473)
Henry Sandham - The Monitor A miner using a hydraulic jet to mine for gold in California, from The Century Magazine January 1883. Source: Wikipedia
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Esta intervención, pensada para escaparates, vitrinas u otros dispositivos pantalla, consiste en una caja de luz que replica en forma y lenguaje los rótulos característicos de la publicidad de fin de siglo. La caja termina en un falso espejo, que cuando es observado desde la cámara de un móvil o tablet muestra un icono de otra forma invisible a los ojos.

El icono oculto, apreciable sólo a través de cámaras digitales, es una reelaboración del cuadro de Santa Lucía del pintor del quattrocento Francesco del Cossa, en el que ella sostiene con su mano una planta con dos ojos en los extremos. En el espejo mirado desde el móvil, la mano de Facebook aparece con el mismo gesto, sosteniendo dos ojos.

La caja hace alusión a la “visión mineral” y al “monitor”, nombre con el que se designaba al trabajador que guiaba el cañón de agua con el que el oro era extraído en las minas del XIX. En ambos casos, un contexto de industrialización y extracción es apelado: el de la mirada como medio o lugar, extraído y convertido en recurso y mercancía.

Este es el contexto que da forma a la intervención, en el que escaparates, pantallas y dispositivos móviles aparecen reunidos como enclaves configuradores de una mirada-materia, de una visión mineral.

This is an intervention, designed for store windows, cabinets or other display devices, that consists of a light box that replicates in form and language the characteristics of printed ads in the public space in the turn of the 20th century. The box ends with a false mirror; when viewed from the camera of a smartphone or tablet, an icon behind the mirror becomes visible to the eyes.

The hidden icon -noticeable only through digital cameras- is a rework of the portrait of Saint Lucia, by Quattrocento painter Francesco del Cossa, that depicts her holding in her hand a plant with two eyes on the ends. When viewed from the mobile device, Facebook's hand appears with the same gesture, holding two eyes.

The box refers to the "mineral vision" and to the "monitor", the name given to workers that guided a water cannon whose jet was used to extract gold in the open mines of the 19th century. In both cases, a context of industrialized extraction is appealed: the gaze as mineral media, extracted and transformed into resource and commodity.

This is the context that gives rise to the intervention: store windows, displays and smartphones are grouped together as key shapers of a material gaze, a mineral vision.

An Atlas of Color Mediations

Filed under: 2014, browser_based
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An Atlas of Color Mediations is an interface to Google Image Search which provides simultaneously with two sets of results for each user's query: images with color, displayed on the left side of the screen, and images in black and white on the right side. Images appear in the same order they appear in a google search.

Once you’ve discovered by yourself the issues of the interface itself -related with polysemy, proper nouns, etc- soon you will find some enlightening results. Color mediates between ourselves and the synthetic contexts we live in.

A coltan collar

Filed under: 2014, image_machine
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A coltan collar is a device consisting of a motor-driven mechanism that ends in a moving head covered with sandpaper that slowly erodes a zinc plate painted in blue. The machine needs an internet connection to work, as it detects tweets sent from devices located in an geographical sector in central Africa, the one where most of the minerals needed for the hardware inside digital systems are extracted from, with barely no revenue for local economies but extremely hard working conditions.

Whenever a tweet sent from this area is detected, the machine performs a movement, transforming the digital act into the mechanical work of eroding the colored plate. This erosion recalls an extraction process of rare earth minerals, as it unveils under the bright blue colored surface its hidden mineral support.

While the production of digital hardware continues to depend on labour exploitation, the affective economies of social networks rely on the exploitation of data exchanged by users within their free online services. A coltan collar plays with the interweaving of these two different types of exploitation, as users tweeting from the selected region in central Africa are the workforce in a system that recalls the illegal mining labour embedded in every digital device. It is a domestic image-machine, whose presence brings to the everyday space this dual notion of exploitation diffused in digital systems.

Sanguine. Crowd colorations

Filed under: installation, 2014
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El empleo de cañones de agua pigmentada contra los participantes en una manifestación es una técnica policial cada vez más extendida, que además de disolver al grupo, busca marcar a los individuos para su posterior identificación. Es una forma primitiva de las técnicas de rastreo digital, como las que han salido a la luz paralelamente a las movilizaciones masivas de la ciudadanía en estos últimos años.

La instalación arranca de esta doble naturaleza de lo digital: junto a unas imágenes de cañones de color contra los manifestantes, un proyector vertical ilumina una fotografía aérea de una concentración. Sobre ella, fragmentos de pétalos de color son colocados cubriendo el área ocupado por las personas. A partir del mapeado de los pétalos, su color es desaturado de forma oscilante por efecto de la luz del proyector. Una sombra elíptica en movimiento, finalmente, es proyectada sobre la multitud.

The use of colored water cannons against participants in a demonstration is an old police force technique increasingly widespread. Apart from dissolving the group, it aims to tag the individuals for subsequent identification. It is a primitive form of current digital tracking technologies, as the ones that have come to light parallel to the massive demonstrations of citizenship all around the world these last years.

The installation stems from this double nature of the digital: on the one hand, it helps collectivities to emerge; but on the other, it has an unusual power to track the individuals. Next to an image of a colored water cannon against groups of people, a vertical projection lightens an aerial photograph of a demonstration. Over it, a layer of fragments of colored petals cover the area occupied by the people in the picture. Their color, due to the projected light, is oscillatingly being desaturated. A hovering elliptical shadow, finally, is projected over the crowd.

The installation may consist of one or several projectors, depending on the space and the technical means. Each projector transforms the image of a demonstration in a different city, with layers of petals of a different color in each case.

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A photograph lays on a table. It is lightened by a projector heading downwards. When we get closer, we distinguish a coloured layer of glowng petals. At the installation, we realize that the image shows a crowded Taksim Square in Istanbul during the massive demonstrations last year. Bits of coloured petals placed over the citizens, however, appear as a glowing plasma spread on the Square, which reveals also a disc-shaped shadow hovering the coloured crowd. The projector, with the aid of a computer, maps the petals over the image and, while making them glow, fictionally introduces the surveillance-like moving shadow.

A second image is placed close to the table. It displays a set of photographs were groups of people are dispersed with the aid of water cannons, being the liquids used remarkably coloured. Dyed water is employed to tag people, as a primitive monitoring technique, a material analog of the invisible digital surveillance networks.

Once demonstrations are over, even with no blood spilled, streets remain covered with coloured fluids, revealing the clash between different networked collectivities. In the digital era, of crowd and collective phenomena, are these analogs to blood spills, unveiling an ubiquitous violent and surveillance state of coexistence?

Traité nouveau pour faire race de Chevaux, partagé en trois parties

Filed under: 2014, image_machine
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This installation is part of the project L'image est une machine malade (The image is a sick machine), an exploration on the materialization of mechanisms of contemporary visuality through automatic movements and sound. The research shows the image -considered as a factory, as an active subject that is able to transform and mold- as a hybrid cyborg, an assemblage of visual resources and tricks used to catch the viewer's attention.

The installation receives the title from the homonym book of George Simon Winter of Adlersflügel, a treatise on taming and crossing of horses of 1672, where the picture of the horse-human in the piece is found. Two mechanical arms traverse the surface of the image and slowly erode its surface, leaving as a result two tracks, trace of the encounter between the image and the machine. The installation presents then a triptych where the image is completed with the movement and sound of the articulated arms and the tracks opened in its surface.

Original image CC-BY-4.0 Welcome Images

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Esta instalación forma parte del proyecto L'image est une machine malade (La imagen es una máquina enferma), una exploración sobre la visibilización de los mecanismos y materiales de la visualidad contemporánea trabajada a través de movimientos mecánicos que erosionan imágenes tomadas de la tradición moderna. La investigación muestra las imágenes como híbridos cyborg, como ensamblajes de recursos visuales y artificios con los que atrapar y modular la atención e imaginación del espectador.

La instalación, Traité nouveau pour faire race de Chevaux, partagé en trois parties (Nuevo tratado para hacer caballos de raza, dividido en tres partes), es la primera pieza de la serie y recibe el título del libro homónimo de George Simon Winter de Adlersflügel, un tratado sobre domesticación y cruce de caballos de 1672 del que proviene la figura del caballo-mujer que se presenta en la obra.

Esta figura fantástica extraída del tratado científico muestra el papel transformador de la cultura visual moderna, en particular en el contexto de domesticación de la naturaleza y del diseño de un mundo artificial y sintético al servicio de la especie humana. Dos brazos mecánicos recorren en la instalación la imagen y erosionan lentamente su superficie, dejando como resultado dos surcos, huella del encuentro entre la imagen y su especie complementaria, la máquina.

La instalación ofrece así al espectador un tríptico en el que la imagen presentada se completa con el movimiento y el sonido de los brazos articulados, junto a los surcos abiertos en su superficie.

Puede verse un vídeo de la instalación aquí: https://vimeo.com/91212912

Original image CC-BY-4.0 Welcome Images

Facebots //// in development ////

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Website of the project: http://abelardogfournier.org/botsoftrust

Bots of trust (aka Facebots) is an installation that consists of a grid of devices similar to points of sale terminals. The bots are specifically designed machines displaying the mechanisms of customer engagement in large online retail stores, with the aim of rendering them experienceable to visitors.

Each bot downloads a list of "Recommended items" from a popular e-commerce platform. The list is then codified into an image, where human-like faces are detected. Faces are printed, together with the articles they come from, mimicking how customers are gradually being codified inside the databases of algorithm-driven online stores.

Vividness

Filed under: installation, 2013
Vividness - at Culturehub (NY, 2013) Photo courtesy of Babak Andishmand
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Project homepage: http://abelardogfournier.org/vividness

This is an installation where a light mechanism renders an arrangement of dried flowers into an illusory regime of artificial vitality through the real-time manipulation of colors. By means of a digital projector, colors are sent to the dried leaves and flower in a way that the resulting image shows no colors at all.

Living plants are first cut and dried so their surface is able to reflect the projected colors and create the illusory grayscale image. The projector lightens then the scene with a rhythmically oscillating color pulse so that the arrangement seems to come to life in a sustained digital breath.

The flow of light in the installation miniaturizes somehow the complex of processes of substitution, replacement and transformation where mechanical, chemical and digital revolutions have relied on. This setup of a controlled phenomenon, however, is open, and bodies of visitors can interrupt the projection beam when crossing the installation space. Seen from this proximity, the arrangement reacts to residual lights and shows its old colors.

In his Negative Dialectics, Theodor Adorno stated that there is a space where to catch the indelible color: “Only the utmost distance would be proximity”. This radical distance becomes a bodily presence inside Vividness, a proximity which enables to alter the phenomenon as well as rewrite it.

MASTA

Filed under: digital fabrication, 2013
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MASTA website: http://masta-project.com/

MASTA is a project on social constructions aimed to set up ephemeral arrangements of people, abstractions and objects. Processes initiated by this system will generally end with the realization of an object or a structure, but the production of objects is not the goal of the MASTA project.

MASTA is a production system of abstractions:

"To abstract is to construct a plane upon which otherwise different and unrelated matters may be brought into many possible relations."

McKenzie Wark, A hacker Manifesto (2004)

MASTA looks for abstractions to produce improbable bonds in specific contexts of contemporary systems: economic and socially situated contexts of production and exchange of objects.

The MASTA project points out a space of alternative processes of production and exchange of objects within abstraction and systems. It stems from the possibility of experimenting with new abstractions thanks to technologies such as personal 3D printers and open programming platforms, and the willing to explore and reenact communities of bonds.

Hello World! Processing

Filed under: documentary, 2013, 2012
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http://www.hello-world.cc

Co-directed with Raúl Alaejos, produced by Ultra-lab

Hello World! Processing is a documentary on creative coding that explores the role that ideas such as process, experimentation and algorithm play in this creative field featuring artists, designers and code enthusiasts. Based on a series of interviews to some of the leading figures of the Processing open programming platform community, the documentary is built itself as a continuous stream of archived references, projects and concepts shared by this community.

The documentary is published under a Creative Commons license in the site www.hello-world.cc .

TAMAL - Game engine for collaborative game design

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http://www.croopier.com/comunidad/mundotamal

http://culturambiente.es/blog/

Artist María Andueza and me were invited by the Culturambiente association to propose a workshop on game design as part of the spanish cooperation agency (AECID) program of activities.

We designed a specific game engine and proposed a collaborative creation workshop. We were able to conduct it in the Cultural Center of Spain both in Managua (Nicaragua) and San Salvador (El Salvador).

The workshop consisted of a two week process where participants -graphics designers, programmers and environmental activists- produced since the beginning of their learning process interactive sequences to be aggregated to the final game.

Review of the resulting videogame by the newspaper La Prensa Gráfica (spanish):

COLLscreen: a public space NES games exhibition

Filed under: curation, public space, 2012
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Curatorial project of a public space exhibition of games produced for the NES platform for the Cromafest 2012 festival in Mexico DF.

The exhibition was installed as a big screen in the public park Parque España. Visitors were invited to install the app of the project in their mobile devices to transform them into the control-pads of the videogames.

The selection included games created by the industry in the 80s, games and interactive pieces created by artists and independent game developers for this platform in the recent years, as well as hacks and mods published by its large community of players.

Two user videos:

Game Art section at Fronterad.com

Filed under: game art, 2011

Since 2010 I began a collaboration with the online magazine Fronterad.com where I was invited to publish some of my games as well as to present other artists work.

http://www.fronterad.com/?q=taxonomy/term/47

Artist in Residence - Canal+ Skyline

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Broadcast timetable: http://www.plus.es/programacion/skyline/E915437/

As an artist in residence in the experimental program Canal+ Lab I created a real time visualization to be shown as the continuity signal of its cultural channel, Canal+ Xtra. The result, Skyline, is still showing to viewers what is happening at the online site of the national broadcasting television, plus.es, as well as the user interaction with the site in real time. A new concept in continuity, a screensaver with a life of its own.

It was featured with a Bronze Laus 2011 international prize from the ADG-FAD design association.

Sandbox project - Artist in residence CTIC-Laboral Centro de Arte

Filed under: game art, 2010

As part of an artist in residence program in a laboratory shared by Laboral Centro de Arte and Fundación CTIC (Centro de Tecnologías de la Información y la Comunicación), I developed a prototype of a library which allowed users of the Processing creative coding platform to easily create 3D scenes for games, data visualizations and interactive art.

The Croopier: Archive of game situations 2008-2010

Filed under: game art, browser_based, 2010, 2009, 2008
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The first epoch of The Croopier was a time specific game production project. It portrayed different issues highlighted by the news media industry as games published weekly in a web environment.

Among other issues, it exposed the treatment meted out by public authorities to the arrival of boats with undocumented immigrants as a recurrent and solution-less tetris; the Gaza conflict as a medieval witches’ Sabbath; and the regulated layoff of jobs as a problem of permanently unbalanced scales.

The micro-games archive of The Croopier is a playful and polymorphous way of observing contemporary global mediatization. More tellingly, it questions the ongoing transformation of world affairs into events ready for consumption and entertainment, a conversion deactivating both the information itself and the receiver’s power to act beyond the news.

SELECTED REVIEWS

OffWorld at Boing Boing Brandon Boyer, 2009 News Games: The Croopier’s weekly experimental Processing mini-games

Digital Tools. Game Design, Games and Computer Art Martin Wisniowski, 2009 The Croopier: Weekly Open-Source Mini-Game in Processing!

ArteContexto 25 - New art forms, new markets Mónica Núñez, 2010 ArteContexto num. 25, pp. 37-39 (2010)

Of the Odyssey 100 to NewsGames - a genealogy of the games as information Geraldo A. Seabra, Luciene A. Santos

NewsGames (2012) http://blogdonewsgames.blogspot.com.es/2009/03/newsgames-partir-de-noticias.html

SELECTED EXHIBITIONS

Mediateca Expandida. Arcadia Collective exhibition curated by José Luis de Vicente Laboral Centro de Arte y Creación Industrial (Gijón, Spain - 2009)

Over the Game Collective exhibition curated by Zemos 98 and Flavio Escribano Espacio Iniciarte (Sevilla, Spain - 2009)

Perspective I

Filed under: interactive, installation, 2006
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Project website: http://noviembre.org/perspectiva/en

Perspective (I) is an interactive installation for public spaces of transit. In consists of an algorithm where a few invisible animated circles with a small random movement intersect among themselves producing a set of lines of light, these being shown on a projection.

The generated illusion of space and depth and the installation's revealing sensibility and reaction to visitors movement, invite to a joint reflection over the constantly dealt nature of our relation and perception of space.

Review of the installation by the online cultural magazine CeldaTV:

Acoustic Vibrations. Berzosa del Lozoya

Filed under: public space, installation, 2005
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In collaboration with María Andueza. Site specific public space installation of sound devices consisting of a series of large grids of mirrors covering loudspeakers which emit very low, vibrating, frequencies of sound. The sound emitted was similar to the one produced by the heaters of the place, and caused a movement in the mirrors which were reflections of the peculiar stone walls of the village.