“Device Art” is an art form that merges art, design, technology, science and entertainment. The resulting creations deploy innovative materials and techniques to engender contrivances featuring elaborate, whimsical design conceived to bring us face-to-face with technology’s essence. In “Device Art”, the device itself is the content; its form and appearance are inseparable from its function.
This mode of cultivating objects used on a daily basis and the acts people perform in everyday life has a long tradition in Japan, the country in which “Device Art” emerged. Highly esteeming playfulness is also deeply rooted in Japanese culture. For example, highly sophisticated devices have been developed for use in tea ceremonies or to create floral arrangements. In this spirit, the works in the exhibition at the Ars Electronica Center use new materials and devices to demonstrate surprising possibilities afforded by modern technology. At first glance, fanciful outer surfaces hide the serious concepts underneath. In accordance with Japanese tradition, art ought to be integrated into everyday life; the combination of artwork, plaything, and technical device as “gadget” makes this possible. A few of the pieces of “Device Art” on display here are already available as commercial products. Others will never make it to that point—and weren’t meant to.
The “Device Art” group formed in 2004 around Hiroo Iwata, a scientist associated with the University of Tsukuba, Japan. The “Device Art” project has been financed by the Japan Science and Technology Agency’s CREST—Core Research for Evolutional Science and Technology program. Since “Device Art’s” inception, groups of artists pursuing this philosophy have emerged in other countries as well. In addition to works by the Japanese group, the exhibition at the Ars Electronica Center includes works by artists at the University of California, Los Angeles’ ART|SCI Center, and at Kontejner, the Bureau of Contemporary Art Praxis based in Zagreb, Croatia.
The exhibition run from September 3, 2014 to June 21, 2015.
by Martina Mezak “Urania” is a device that produces white clouds in a blue virtual sky—the technological simulation of a lovely, soothing natural phenomenon. Plus, users can influence the density of the cloud cover by simply blowing into a plastic tube.
by Eric Siu Touchy makes the person wearing this special helmet blind until another person touches his/her skin 10 seconds long. Then Touchy’s lens apertures open; the person wearing the helmet can see again and the built-in camera takes a photo. The most recently captured image is displayed on the back of the helmet.
by Anselmo Tumpić “Tateye” is a prototype that tattoos the image of your choice onto your retina! This set of goggles is equipped with two built-in lasers that engrave a permanent tattoo onto the wearer’s retina.
by Scott Hessels “Sustainable Cinema” is a series of kinetic sculptures that combine natural energy sources with optical illusions to produce moving pictures. Scott Hessels’ aim in creating these works is to call attention to environmentally friendly media and sustainable solutions for providing energy to new technologies.
by Ryota Kuwakubo For many animals, a tail is an essential survival tool—to maintain balance, provide protection from the cold, for communication or as a gripping device. Among human beings, the ur-gene for this extension of the spine still slumbers within our genetic makeup.
by Hiroo Iwata “Robot Tile” enables you to make real strides as you advance through virtual realities. On these robotic plates, you can proceed in any direction you like and still remain on one spot. Your actual physical motion imparts the feeling of being inside the virtual world instead of it just passing by before your eyes.
by Masahiko Inami, Kentarou Yasu “POPAPY” is a postcard that turns into a three-dimensional popup card when it’s heated in a microwave oven.
by Sanela Jahić “Pendulum” is a kinetic installation that makes LEDs rotate and swing back and forth so rapidly that they produce apparently two-dimensional images visible to the human eye.
by Hideyuki Ando, Eisuke Kusachi, Junji Watanabe Two video screens on which people are moving about—on one as “real” human beings; on the other as shadows. By touching—and feeling—one of these individuals, you can transport him/her simply, conveniently into the other world.
by Novmichi Tosa The “Otamatone” is a Japanese musical instrument that’s shaped like a musical note and sounds like a theremin, an electronic musical instrument invented in 1919. You produce sounds with the “Otamatone” by stroking or pressing the instrument’s neck, which lets you determine the sound’s pitch as well as create special effects.
by Jaehyuck Bae “Inside Out” is a series of kinetic sculptures that transform mechanical movements into the poetic interplay of light and shadow.
by Hiroo Iwata “Food Simulator” is a device that can imitate not only how a foodstuff tastes but also its consistency and the sound it makes in your mouth.