Art and technology are no strangers. (Think of LED-spangled fashion shows, CGI special effects, or TM Sisters' psychedelic video installations.) We've seen art and technology come together before, and we'll see it again during Art Basel this year -- in a whole new light.
New York resident artist David Datuna has chosen Miami's biggest art week to unveil his "Viewpoints of Billions" series, which uses Google Glass to create an interactive art experience.
Hold on to your seats, because Google is officially taking over the art world.
Using the help of Google Glass - which, we've learned, is simply referred to as 'Glass,' never glasses - Datuna has created work to be shown in the Design District during Art Basel next month. The Glass is not only innovative in the way Datuna is using it for the exhibit, but it has also influenced him as an artist: "Glass has started to change the way I view the world of art and my role in contributing to society as an artist."
"I know now that the impact of Glass and wearable technology will forever change the way people view the world in general. It's a completely new experience we won't fully understand until we're immersed in it on a larger scale as a society," he says. And Art Basel is your chance to get a taste of that immersion.
Attendees will have the opportunity to try on a pair at Datuna's show, and if you opt in for the total experience, your facial expressions will be recorded and archived.
"Once you are fitted with Glass, your experience begins," explains Datuna. "The flag will communicate directly with its audience, prompting questions through the viewfinder of Glass." In other words, you will be having a conversation with the artwork - very cool.
But not so fast, Google isn't letting just anyone and everyone try on their scientific marvel. Datuna says how guests will be required to sign up on a list and they will get a text when it's their turn to view the USA flag using Glass. In the meantime, he hopes you'll keep busy and "see some of my other work, walk around, and view other exhibits."
We asked Datuna to elaborate on a few other things about his viewpoints and the upcoming show.
Tell us about your art series, "Viewpoint of Billions."
David Datuna: The artwork, probably the first of its type in the world, features my classic American flag. This 12-foot long multi-media work is my largest to date, and is made up of nearly 30,000 different parts.... I have worked with eyeglasses for many years as my medium. Layered beneath the thousands of optical lenses, wire, paint and glue are hundreds of photos and clippings that narrate my concept of the American cultural, political and social journey. The work is specifically designed to work with Google Glass, allowing viewers to journey beyond the surface, and become involved in my artwork in a completely new way.
We've seen that you've exhibited the "Viewpoint of Millions" series before. What makes "Viewpoint of Billions" for Art Basel different?
"Viewpoint of Millions" is a series that I've exhibited all over the world with multiple galleries and it's still an ongoing series. "Viewpoint of Millions" is traditional work viewed in a traditional way. "Viewpoint of Billions" involves a new dimension, a new contextual environment where the viewer becomes part of the work by wearing [Google] Glass. The importance of this work, however, is not the technology; it's the concept of being able to initiate a deeper dialogue with the viewer. Glass brings my ideas to a much larger audience and in a completely different way. As Glass records the viewer's experiences, the artwork in turn will record the viewer. All of it will be sent out via social media and will be available at Datuna.com. The work will continue to evolve over time as everyone shares, 'likes,' and engages in dialogue, which will hopefully count down one day to a viewpoint of billions.
What can you tell us about your experience as an artist working with Google?
The entire process has been tremendous. The team of developers I am working with at BrickSimple are Glass Pioneers and Explorers, and have been working with Google from the earliest point that Glass was introduced. BrickSimple created some of the first apps that exist for Glass and are one of a handful of developers working at this level worldwide. The team is an extremely smart group of individuals who understand not only the concepts behind the narrative in the piece, but how to apply this new technology to convey my message to seamlessly enhance the viewer's experience of the work. A team of three will be on hand in Miami with multiple Glass devices, giving an opportunity for quite a few people to put Glass on... The whole experience, which is one of the first times Glass has been connected to a work of art in this way, is something I hope many people in Miami will get a chance to experience.
Your pieces typically incorporate some sort of glass eyewear so the viewer can get a magnified view of the smaller images underneath. How will Google Glass be used to facilitate this connection of audience to artwork?
It's actually not a magnified view. The layer of positive and negative optical lenses covering the work creates a prismatic surface designed to both hide and reveal the collaged and painted images below. My work explores the sources and meaning of cultural identity, utilizing a conceptual iconography within a political, cultural and commercial context. The lenses symbolically express individual identity, illusion, perception, fragmentation and unification.
Google Glass becomes an extension for both me and the viewer that conveys my vision in ways that would normally be impossible. Glass will allow viewers to unlock the underlying images in the work with video and interactive experiences. The unique technological capabilities of Glass, such as its ability to engage in dialogue with the viewer, adds a new dimension to the works I've been creating for nearly a decade. This flag is the first in a series of 10 that I'm planning to do for "Viewpoint of Billions." Each of the different international flags--which will hopefully reside in the country it represents--will interact with the other nine works in the group, creating an extended network of communicating and evolving works of art.
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The art project was produced by KIWI Arts Group with the added support of Datuna's Paris-based representative, Gallery Shchukin. Datuna told us that updates for his exhibit, as well as the recordings collected from the Google Glass, would be available at his website, Datuna.com; however, the website currently shows up as "coming soon." For now, look for updates on Datuna's Facebook page instead.
"Viewpoints of Billions" will debut on December 3 at a private event at the New World Symphony, and from December 4-8 it will be on display in the Design District at 97 NE 40 St., Miami, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. In mid-December the series will move to New York City, then to Paris, before finally being donated to a museum.
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