By Kirstin Butler
No longer the sole domain of the leisured classes, art collecting is open to broad audiences like never before. Over the last few years, online marketplaces — like 20×200 and Supermarket — have made works on paper readily accessible.
Somehow, though, this great democratization of patronage seems to have skipped over digital art as a medium for popular purchase. We find this kind of amusing, given that new media creations are the consummate works of art for the age of digitized reproduction. It’s precisely creations made for screens that best lend themselves to mass duplication and distribution.
(Perhaps we consider computers too utilitarian a medium for something as utopian as art; or, more likely, no online dealer has yet established itself as the go-to purveyor. If anyone wants to partner up for that project, we’re game…)
One example of such easily collected work is The Interpretation, a 36-minute DVD that was an official selection of the DOTMOV Film Festival, The Graphic Design Festival, and TodaysArt Digital Art Festival. Created by Michael Paul Young and Michael Cina, co-founders of the Minneapolis-based design firm YouWorkForThem, The Interpretation takes you on an abstract tour through a verdant environment composed entirely of vectors. Green, blue, and brown shapes hint at both seascapes and plant forms. Swirling planes of color take on the dimensions of tornadoes and turbines, turning infinitely around some locus that remains forever hidden.
A soundtrack composed by Cina in collaboration with recording label Ghostly International combines barking dogs, bird chirps, and blowing wind, manipulated from online samples and mashed up into an enigmatic, textured minimalism.
As with an actual forest, we find The Interpretation calming and foreboding in equal measure; it’s almost as though our remove from nature is now so vast, even its virtual incarnation can feel overwhelming. (For more superb works for screen, check out Young’s Vimeo page and iPhone art app, Buamai.)
Young created the work’s visuals first, initially as a commission for the OFFF digital art festival. Originally intended to be installed in a small room with monitors covering the walls, The Interpretation would create an ambient world for contemplation. What’s so cool about the work, though — and the reason we hope new media art finds a larger following — is that you can experience it in a range of settings. Unlike media that can only be in one place at a time, digital work is often created for infinite destinations.
So even if you’re reading this at work, you can dim the lights, press play, and take in an interpretation of nature, rendered by code.
Published December 8, 2009