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Media Art Gallery Presents ‘Hyper-Active: Interactive Installation Art’ Featuring AI, Video, Apps and Games


Karl Sims’ Flow displays various fluid flow, particle systems, and image processing simulations that react to visitors as they move in front of a display.

The newest exhibit at the Emerson Urban Arts: Media Art Gallery is Hyper-Active: Interactive Installation Art, which features contemporary artists from throughout New England who explore interactive installations, augmented reality art, video games, smart phone apps and dance to create new and engaging experiences for audiences.

According to George Fifield, exhibit curator and director of Boston Cyberarts, “Interactivity is the latest tool available to artists for their eternal re-creation of the world. Through interactivity, contemporary artists mirror, distort, and confuse the audience’s experience, not of representation, but of reality itself.”

The exhibit opened April 25 and runs through Sunday, May 19 at the Emerson Urban Arts Gallery, which is free and open to the public Wednesday through Sunday from 2 to 7 pm. The gallery is located at 25 Avery St.

Below are descriptions of the major pieces in the exhibit:

Amorphous Ball by Joseph Farbrook, a recipient of the Anderson Ranch Arts Center visiting artist residency who has exhibited at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston and Boston Cyberarts gallery, is a shape-shifting red sphere that becomes all things. The Boston Globe said, “Joseph Farbrook’s Amorphous Ball equates our ubiquitous devices with a glossy, floating red blob that swiftly shape-shifts into an ear, a mouth, a television. The piece is a nesting doll of realities — tangible, virtual, metaphoric — we may never get to the heart of.”

Karl Sims, a digital media artist and visual effects software developer who founded GenArts, Inc., presents the interactive installation, Flow, which displays various fluid flow, particle systems, and image processing simulations that react to visitors as they move in front of a display. A video image of participants is augmented to give the impression that they are in the same environment as the installation’s effects. The original version of this exhibit was commissioned by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) and is on display in the lobby of the MIT Stata Center.

Lilliput by Jeff Warmouth, a contemporary artist whose work incorporates photography, video, objects, and installations, is an interactive video installation much like a video mirror in which small people fall out of the sky and land on the viewer’s arms, head and shoulders. They can be held and played with or helped to continue on their way down to the ground.

Jody Zellen, a Los Angeles-based artist working in many media— making interactive installations, mobile apps, net art, animations, drawings, paintings, photographs, public art, and artists’ books, presents interactive iPad apps: News Wheel, Spine Sonnet and 4 Square. News Wheel is an iOS app that explores the poetics of ever changing news headlines. Its playful interface invites users to start and stop the wheel eventually filling the screen with a collage of current headlines. Individual words can be deleted and repositioned so users can create their own poems from this content.  Spine Sonnet is an automatic poem generator that randomly composes 14 line sonnets derived from an archive of 2,500 art and criticism book titles. 4 Square is an artwork that creates random juxtapositions of four different elements.

Total Jump by Caitlin & Misha, a collaborative contemporary art duo, is an arcade-style jumping game that trains people for a coordinated worldwide jump where everyone jumps and lands at exactly the same time. The extreme difficulty of accomplishing a Total Jump, combined with the ease and fun of training for it, invites the audience to bridge the gap between a pluralistic world and the necessity for globally coordinated solutions to immense problems facing the human race. Original song Jump Up by Gold Bikini.

Anthony Montuori, an artist/video game-maker who lives and works in Boston, presents four video games: Debtris, in which audience/participants “pay off” the artist’s student loan debt through hours and hours of Tetris-like experience; Into the Void with Yves Klein, where participants become the artist Yves Klein seeking out the void; in Sisyphus participants assume the role and take control of his epic boulder in an action packed adventure game; and in LONG, a slight alteration to Pong, one of the oldest video games around, the ball takes upwards of 15 minutes to bounce back and forth. Players are left waiting, forced to communicate with each other.

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