I have talked with and about interesting Mac users in New Zealand before - here's another.
Marcia Lyons has been using Macs since 1998. Currently, she is studying towards her PhD at Auckland University of Technology; she was appointed the CIRI Scholar in arts practice in the PhD programme at AUT University.
Lyons, in collaboration with Moving Image Centre (MIC) Toi Rerehiko, is presenting Open Limit until June 26th.
It's an exhibition based around augmented reality technology. Her immersive, physical and sonic environment is part of a series called
The MIC installation explores how live-feed data networking can be used in the creation of an interactive art experience. The physical movements of those within the installation are tracked and displayed, which leads to a dynamic and changing environment.
The artwork reflects Lyons' interest in interactivity, perception, and live-feed technologies. In Open Limit, the modification of the environment ultimately allows the visitor to comprehend the environment in a more ephemeral and sensual manner, breaking free of the limitations of 'logic' and 'reality'.
MIC's statement on Lyons says "American-born and New Zealand resident Marcia has exhibited and taught all over the world. Emerging in 1992-93 as a performance artist and sculptor, she is best known for her extensive work as a digital artist and educator. She established the Digital Media Fine Arts programme at Cornell University, before becoming the Developing Programme Director of Digital Media at Victoria University of Wellington in 2005."
Lyons held her first solo New Zealand exhibition in 2009.
was an installation based on her research into the communicative patterns of humpback whales. Lyons drew on her research to create an immersive installation emulating the world underwater, utilising computer, sound, and phone technology.
She was awarded the Rome Prize in 1998. "So I felt I could afford to buy my own Mac Desktop. I took it with me to Rome, but when I got there, there were no Mac stores like there are now. I had to ship over software, printer, ink ... I created A4 size prints on hand-made rice paper and just 'added water', like instant coffee," she says. "The ink stained the paper before it set."
"I started using Macs for 'real time' live installations 2006. Mac Minis were very versatile - easy to ship overseas for an exhibition.
"I kind of search and find the technology of programming that might push my ideas forward. New apps are what interest me most. I rarely use commercial platforms, mostly Open Source, and so I am constantly in upgrade mode.
"I seek out experts in the field - scientists, engineers, programmers, whoever is accessible to consult on projects. I find there is a kind of thinking-out-loud that happens that is much faster than working on your own.
"Things I hope a platform can do ... often I find out that it just doesn't have that function, or other functions that I'm not yet deep enough into the app. Consultants steer me into a direction that works.
"Over the past two years I've been working with scientists in-the-field to understand imperceptible frequencies emanating from the planet. The work at MIC came out of a series of investigations where live data and viewer 'creative interference' intermix to create a third, in-between, portal. The work is like weather on 'standby' waiting to be 'moved'."
Lyons uses a MacBook Pro on a daily basis, and Mac Minis for exhibitions. (NB, a brand new Mac mini
, complete with better graphics and an with an HDMI port.)
Lyons has a Mac Pro desktop for heavier data applications or Intel. "I don't commonly use any software. The current show utilises
, a gaming platform.
"Previous works are made with Processing, Arduino, Wiring. I'm currently working with Field, a new platform created by MIT MediaLab."
Lyons recently spoke with MacPlanet about her work:
Mac Planet: On the iPhone and iPad (presumably), augmented reality is the big buzz right now. The Layar Reality Browser shows you, overlaid on the realtime image shot by your iPhone's camera, where cafés and other services are. FourSquare puts a tech-augmented community at your finger tips so you can connect up with people you know in the real world. Soon you'll be able to see, as you head up the street, that Karen is in the café to the left where that former work colleague you wish to avoid is in the pub on the right. Do you see any kind of synergy between this kind of technology and where you are going with your work?
"Yes! Absolutely. I project by 2012, this kind of work will be more commonly understood. Augmented Reality will create a situation that will really mix real and virtual realms.
"I think that [AR] is an instrumentality that is bringing us closer to multidimensional realities that exist all around us. This is a kind of focused attention to make us more aware. I'm very excited with the direction that Apple is going. AR has been around for a long time- but was too clunky to be practical. IMAX movies still don't have the narrative to go along with the special effects. It will take a few more years before AR has its own Renaissance."
I have talked with artists before (James Charlton of Auckland, Hellen Sky of Melbourne) about art and tech, and the ability to take part in and even curate artworks that take place, physically, far away. Do you think this brings people closer to art or adds to the spiritual distancing of people away from, particularly the more esoteric, forms of art practice?
"I believe that what we think and do, is the same thing. Our thoughts and our actions affect what is happening at great distances. The movies you see or make, the games you play or make contribute to the greater world consciousness. There is no judgement attached. But, what you put your attention to comes closer to you.
"This form of arts practice is on the edge of the art world at-large. It is a kind of cross-over experience. If you are working with a gaming platform, the group that created it has invested a lot in the functionality of the product. What I mean is: even though I am not consciously creating a player experience, people that come to the exhibition begin to approach the work as a playful - even competitive - experience.
"So to some extent I'm limited by the inherent qualities of that software. That is why I gravitate towards open source programming. There is a conscious decision in the development of the experience potential from the very beginning."
Mac Planet: Where does actual, one-to-one reality - and the perception of it thereof - fall in all this?
"I think that everyone has their own reality. The idea that there is a consensus is very ephemeral. Change is the only thing that holds reality together. Being flexible to a flux of multidimensional possibilities in art, in science- for the planet is fascinating to me.
"The televisual and cellular instruments intermingle and allow us to independently create through experience in ways that reveal a whole other level of expression.
"I'm kind of a nomad, always on the move to explore places I haven't been before. I'm off to the White Sands desert in New Mexico. I've studied the deep sea, polar ice, sonic earthly pulsing, ... colour and light reflected in the desert sand ... I wonder if Apple has a solar powered battery?"
- Mark Webster
The Moving Image Centre, which has an important place in Auckland's art culture as a performance and art enabler though its gallery, Galatos Theatre and its participation in the Homegrown series of short films, has recently relaunched its website. The exhibition space is at Level 1, 321 Karangahape Road, Auckland 1010.