Connecting the Dots About Connecting the Dots

ParkBench explores the space between thought and experience in a live web performance in which two people's brainwave communication is mediated by images and sounds.

Residents of the Banff Centre for the Arts are invited to join us for drinks in the ParkBench Studio in Glyde Hall #9 Friday, November 20, 1998 from 5-6 pm (Mountain Time) Your hosts: Nina Sobell, Emily Hartzell, Jesse Gilbert and Scott Wilson

for webchatters: log on with ircle via use channel #parkbench

If the brief history of convergent media is marked by defining moments, then Banff, and by extension, the wild webbed World, may well be participant witness to a significant marker on the timeline for the development of a unified, democratic and synthaesthetic mediaform. Synaesthesia is a literal crossing of the senses. Those with the condition "smell" colours, "see" sounds, "feel" tastes, "hear" images, "taste" the prevailing wind. For those, the secondary sense becomes as real as the primary sense.

Technological advances have allowed the creative expressions of innovative cultural workers to shift the whole landscape of mediart-making. The result has been a completely new way of understanding the media, the meta-culture and the social space. On Friday, November 20, 1998 from 5-6 pm (Mountain Standard Time) transmedia artists Nina Sobell, Emily Hartzell and Jesse Gilbert along with programmer Scott Wilson will take us there by "CONNECTING THE DOTS". They have assembled a labyrinthine and ground-shaking recording, mediation and projection system which combines real time and physical, psychic and networked space.

The "CONNECTING THE DOTS" premiere will be an experiential, experimental demonstration which will combine live biofeedback loops driven by beta, alpha and theta brainwaves sampled off audience volunteers, with videofeeds, photographic and computer-generated imagery, live netcasting, IRC chat, audioscape, music and live performance. For the first time all these disparate elements will fuse together at one multiplexed point on the continuum.The Zeit will meet the Geist. For ParkBench Collective member, Emily Hartzell, the proto-system, in this disincarnation, recontexualizes Television. "Our relationship with Television constitutes the whole extent of contemporary consciousness. But now it's time to reclaim it for ourselves. Perhaps it's time for each of us to restore our Promethean wings and learn to fly (and create) together."

Drawing on Sobell's experimentation with EEG feedback, which dates back to her residency at the VA Neuropsychology Lab, Sepulveda, CA in the early 1970s, ParkBench will use IBVA software to translate the brain wave data into sound and image, as mediated by Max software. EEG transmitters will make use of M. Kahata's IBVA software.

Sobell and company have joined fifty other multi-disciplinary artists, writers, and mediamakers from around the world as part of the Banff Centre for the Arts Long March Residency. This innovative thinktank for the millennial dénouement is exploring contemporary issues and examines socially-engaged critical practice and poetics. Participants explore artistic and practical resistance ­ formally, culturally, intellectually and politically.

The Artists
Nina Sobell is a pioneer visual artist whose improvisational time-based sound and image Web performances are embedded with her drawing, sculpture and video background. She is inspired by the collaborative process that evolves from crossing the lines of music, art and technology, and opening up these channels interactively to the public, initially through interactive video installations, and more recently on the Web. Sobell is primarily interested in non-narrative work that leaves open the possibility for multiple interpretations. Her collaborations and installations as a core member of ParkBench stems from her efforts to demystify technology by assisting in the implementation of ParkBench Public Access Web kiosks run by innercity youth. Sobell envisions ParkBench as a way to promote multicultural, transmedia dialogue and as a safe place to congregate in cyberspace. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including grants from the NEA and NYSCA for her pioneering video performance art. Her sculptures, installations, and video art have been shown throughout the World.

Emily Hartzell graduated magna cum laude in Visual and Environmental Studies from Harvard University. Since 1994, she has collaborated with Sobell. Hartzell is a multimedia artist and independent curator, whose work has been widely exhibited and reviewed internationally. As artists-in-residence at NYU's Center for Advanced Technology since 1994, Sobell and Hartzell have created innovative uses of the Web in ParkBench; "ArTisTheater," the Web's first live video art performance space; and "VirtuAlice," a mobile telepresence video installation. They have presented the work at Interfaces '97 in Montpellier, CHI 97 (Computer-Human Interaction Conference), SIGGRAPH96, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, St. Martin¹s School of Art in London, and Columbia University.

Jesse Gilbert is a composer, multi-instrumentalist, musicologist, and digital audio specialist. Gilbert's interests have carried him into various realms of the digital art/music world - from networking to improvisational saxophone performance, 3D modeling and animation to sound synthesis. He has worked on a range of Web-based collaborative projects over the last two years as both a participant and technical advisor.

Scott Wilson works as a computer programmer and audio specialist in the Media and Visual Arts node at the Banff Centre for the Arts.

ParkBench extends special thanks to Banff Centre for the Arts, NYU Center for Advanced Technology, Sabine Bitter, Sara Diamond, Julia Meltzer, Stella Rollig, Jayce Salloum, Nurit Tilles, Jon Tupper, Helmut Weber, Scott Wilson, Peter Wintonick, Jennifer Woodbury

You will need to download Netscape Navigator and RealPlayer in order to connect the Dots.

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