Sunday, August 7, 2011

Ocular engineering

Two projects, one in progress and the other in the R&D stage...

Eye, Tanya

Tanya Vlach, San Francisco
(1st, 3rd, and 5th images)
Self-described "transdisciplinary artist" Tanya Vlach lost her left eye while driving to a festival in 2005. Since then, her life has seemed fragile, and her art has been imbued with a sense of urgency. Her goal now is to fund the development of the technology that would allow her to turn her prosthetic eye into a camera under her control. The mechanism would be wireless-enabled, web-optimized, and equipped with sensors that would take still photographs, zoom, and focus in response to her blinks. The camera-eye would be controlled by an app that would allow geo-tagging and facial recognition. "This decision to implant a camera in my eye is like inviting a little cinematographer to live in my brain. This consciousness that I’m documenting what I’m observing enables me to be more present and engaged in every moment." With the success of the project, Tanya would realize several artistic goals: "I've been plotting new strategies to tell my story, both my personal one and the one of my sci-fi alter ego, into a transmedia platform, which will include: a graphic novel, an experimental documentary, a web series, a game, and a live performance."

Wafaa Bilal, New York

(2nd, 4th, and 6th images)
Iraqi-born artist Wafaa Bilal, a photography professor at New York University, conceived the idea of having a working digital camera installed in the back of his head. Commissioned by a museum in Qatar, the art project was to last a year and the point was to capture things subjectively, without the viewfinder getting in the way. He had the camera attached to 3 titanium posts implanted between his skin and his skull. Balaal sees the artist as a mirror reflecting the social condition and asks, "Do we really have privacy these days?" On Dec. 15, 2010, the camera began snapping photos every minute for 24 hours a day (except when he was on the NYU campus), streaming them over the internet (choose date and hour here to see the images), and feeding them to monitors in the museum. Within a month, however, Balaal's body had painfully rejected the camera, and he resorted to wearing it around his neck, with plans to reattach it or install a lighter camera.

Artists become cyborgs...

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