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"Turbulent Topologies"

An installation by Marcos Novak, professor of Media Arts and Technology and the Department of Art

This exhibition explores turbulence as both a formal principle and as a condition of the global metropolis. Through a variety of means, both visible and invisible, it examines the turbulent topologies of mixed layers and crossed currents, hidden links and sudden connections, flow networks and perturbed stratifications. Using both high and low technologies, it proposes a continuum between actual, virtual, and transactive space, form, and inhabitation. Drawing upon diverse fields such as particle physics and biology, logic and geology, and lived histories as they are alternately formed by and trapped in the webs of culture, it offers a series of formal propositions in response to the critical acceptance of turbulence as a condition of twenty-first century life.

Turbulent Topologies

Image by Marcos Novak

Turbulent Topologies

Image by Marcos Novak

Notes on Invisible Architectures and Turbulent Topologies

The large "invisible sculpture/invisible architecture" is an embodiment of "reading" invisible shapes through the interaction with several signs: fields of intensities, sounds, colors, forms, behaviors, and so on. As with reading a book, the signs (letters, words, sentences, paragraphs) are not the content: the content is formed in the mind of the "reader" after sufficient effort in reading and imaging what the author wrote. That is not to say that the invisible form is subjective or indefinite: this installation demonstrates that it is quite objectively present; and yet, without the viewer's attention, effort, and imagination, it can easily be missed.

Architecturally, the exhibition explores the idea that we live in a new sort of space, encompassing the actual and the virtual, and using the invisible as a bridge and interface between the two. Artistically, it proposes that the historic divisions between modalities of expression are long obsolete, and have been superseded by the development of a "transmodal continuum" in which all previous, present, and emerging modalities are fused into one continuous expressive medium, spanning across sound, image, form, and space, literature, theater, and dance, and ranging from computation, science, and technology to literal (though previously impossible) sculpture.

The theme "turbulent topologies" refers to the strange geometries of the invisible connections in our lives and our cities. Connections quickly multiply into interconnections, short cuts, hidden passages, and short circuits. Not only are these connections of high genus, they soon form Gordian knots, but it is often more meaningful and rewarding to trace them than to cut them. The connections are not merely (topo)logical pointers, they are warped and twisted by the turbulence of our emotive engagement with the world. Quantities are modulated into qualities.

Thus the visible pieces in the show are indications of how to approach the invisible sculpture/architecture, looking for hidden linkages, telling coincidences, and the sparks of insight that come with spontaneous and unexpected associations.

Marcos Novak, June 18, 2008

Turbulent Topologies
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Installation Description

Eight motion-capture cameras enable the 4m cube to act as a three-dimensional frame for a large invisible architecture/sculpture. Entering the cube with a sensor activates a sound field. The motions of the tracker control the shapes, sounds, colors, behaviors and other parameters of the piece. When the invisible form is "touched" a knocking sound is heard, and the projection of the form turns red.

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