Apr 21 - May 1, 1999

Tactile Video

An exhibition of interactive video installation art conceived and coordinated by Jeff Mann

Ephemeral visions – thirty apparitions per second – trying to get in touch... can interactive video cross over from cyberspace into material reality? Spectres of light with animalistic awareness, ubiquitous presence, sensation, impression, embraceable tactility. Would you rather point and click, or dance and kiss?

Today, interaction in a digital realm requires one to enter cyberspace – to don an apparatus that has a primary function to disembody, to amputate sensation and motivation in order to participate in this virtual existence. Yet we are beginning to see digital semblances of intelligence migrating into the environment and physical objects – ones that acknowledge the human physique, the tactility of existence. Can video, as a technology and an art form, exist in real space, physical space, meat space? Can it be empirical and experiential? Can it be present? Or is it by a framed, flat, linear nature, forever relegated to the other side of the looking glass?

The Tactile Video project investigates and expands artistic practice in the use of interactive, computer-controlled video and "live" processing techniques using readily available desktop video systems. It emphasizes innovative applications in immersive, performative, and installation environments with responsive human interface alternatives to the standard "point-and-click" computer screen.

In the first phase of the project, seminar, panel and videoconference topics included artists' talks and historical overview, survey of technologies and interface, non-linear narrative in physical environments, telepresence, and video as performance instrument. Speakers included Bill Buxton, Paul Garrin, Nancy Paterson, Don Ritter, David Rokeby, Eric Rosenzveig and Willy LeMaitre, Tom Sherman and Nell Tenhaaf.

In the second phase of the project, InterAccess and the Art and Robotics Group invited a number of artists to participate in a month-long production-intensive workshop led by Rokeby and assisted by Jeff Mann. Weekend workshops focused on the use of the Max interactive programming environment to control playback of full-screen, full-motion video via QuickTime and a video projector. Rokeby has created "a series of extensions to the Max language to deal with the low-level management of QuickTime, allowing the participants to focus on the more interesting questions of the nature of the relationship between video and the audience they would like to construct." Rokeby's Very Nervous System and Parallax's BASIC Stamp microcontroller are used to sense motion, distance, touch, sound, "live" objects, etc., in order to create a sensation of physical connection and tactile presence – the integration of video imagery with the physical environment and human body.

Following the Tactile Video lecture series and production-intensive workshop, InterAccess Electronic Media Arts Centre and the Art and Robotics Group are pleased to present nine new interactive video installation works by Myfanwy Ashmore, Jim Bell, Slavica Ceperkovic, Istvan Kantor, Tomasz Konart, Jeff Mann, Tim Moody and Nina Czegledy, William Oldacre and Rod Prouse.

Tactile Video Partners:

Rokeby is an interactive sound and video installation artist based in Toronto. He has been creating interactive installations since 1982. His work has been exhibited in shows across Canada, the US, Europe, Japan and Korea. He was awarded the first Petro Canada Award for Media Arts in 1988 and the Prix Ars Electronica Award of Distinction for Interactive Art (Austria) in 1991.

Mann is founder of Toronto's Art and Robotics Group collective, and producer and coordinator of its SpaceProbe and Tactile Video projects. His is a former faculty member of the Ontario College of Art's New Media program, whose work in telecommunications art, video, sound and electronic installation has been exhibited internationally.

Tactile Video is presented in collaboration with the 1999 Images Festival.

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