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by Martha Ladly
Artist, scientist, architect and inventor Buckminster Fuller harnessed the powerful universal principles of synergy, precession, ephemeralization, and acceleration of acceleration, to predict and explain some of the fastest mutating, richest and most inclusive patterns of behaviour operating throughout the universe. His lifelong goal was the development of what he called "Comprehensive Anticipatory Design Science", indicating an attempt to anticipate and solve humanity's major problems through the highest technology and broadest scope of human imagination. Fuller was a practical philosopher and artist who demonstrated his ideas as inventions that he called "artifacts". Some of these were built as prototypes, others exist only on paper. All were technically viable. Fuller is best known for his invention of the geodesic dome -- the lightest, strongest, and most cost-effective structure ever devised.
The current proliferation of technological imagination being expressed through digital culture, and the corresponding re-emergence of the "artist as humanist / inventor" position advocated by Fuller, are heralding fantastic repercussions. This meme, a force for re-integrating the disciplines of art and science, is breaking down the barriers between them. We are moving from the familiar bipolar consideration of things to a more pluralistic order. Productive partnerships are being formed that are unique and will have a deep influence on our future. Artist and inventor are merging once more. And so I am greatly pleasured to direct this third issue of HorizonZero, titled Invent: Imagining Interaction: The Art of David Rokeby.
Pleasure comes from many quarters: In working with Editor-in-Chief Sara Diamond and the artists she brings together for thrilling marriages of inconvenience at the Banff New Media Institute. In time spent admiring the work of the great Canadian artist David Rokeby (whom I first met some years ago, in a run down but wildly scenic hotel restaurant in Perugia, Italy, where I was fortunate enough to share a conference invitation). And in thinking of the pleasure we will instil in others by bringing his art to a larger audience. But mainly, it is my pleasure to collaborate with the awesome team of diversely creative individuals at HorizonZero, and to direct this on-line celebration of Canadian digital art, artists and culture. Applause to Assistant Editor Angus Leech, who has taken the lion's share of responsibility for the editorial content in this issue. And warm welcome to Dan Donaldson and Elaine Witmer, newly filling the posts of multi-talented Interactive Designer and Art Director, respectively. Welcome also to our new francophone Assistant Editor, Sylvie Parent, a writer and new media thinker of international stature. All of you will be instrumental in our plan to build a beauteous, integrated, truly bilingual representation of this new culture in Canada.
Invent explores David Rokeby's unique media technologies. Built for cultural applications, and resulting in provocative works of art, they look to further our understanding of the relationships between digital media, cultural production and the constant search for soul. The manifold applications of Rokeby's softVNS technology, for example, have given voice and feeling and pleasure to users -- and broken into the realm of synthetic sensualism.
In response, we have been inspired to put together some inventive experiments of our own. To start with, issue three celebrates the launch of our very first ZeroHorizon chat room. Steaming Chat is a place to drag your fingers across the sauna window and meet with others in a warm, moist atmosphere. For those intrigued by alien poetry, we also present The Nonsensorium, a playful homage to those loquacious Rokeby installations, n-cha(n)t and The Giver of Names. Participate in this surrealist story generator by rolling over words on-screen with your cursor. Our oracular machine will then present you with a string of associated vocabulary that (may) form a phrase or a sentence, secretive and intelligent only to you! For armchair travellers, our Horizontal feature transports the viewer to a partially submerged island in Venice via an interactive exploration of Next Memory City, the tripartite installation designed by David Rokeby, Eve Egoyan and Michael Awad for the 2002 Venice Biennale for Architecture. Fans of the aural will also appreciate our off-the-cuff audio review of Rokeby's Watched and Measured exhibit at the London Science Museum, UK, wherein surveillance is viewed with reverse lighting. Here at last is your chance to watch the detectives watching you. Specially recorded
videos, interviews and original music round out the mix, crank up the bandwidth, and make for a big, horizon-busting experience.
I invite you to explore: Invent!
Martha Ladly is the Director of HorizonZero.