the optimal value for y
By DataSpaceTime (Ray Sweeten & Lisa Gwilliam)

November 12 – December 12

Opening Reception Saturday November 12, 6-9PM

QR code portraits | wallpaper prints | interactive video


MICROSCOPE Gallery is very pleased to present the optimal value for y, the first exhibition by DataSpaceTime, a collaboration between sound & visual artist Ray Sweeten and artist & set designer Lisa Gwilliam opening on November 12. The artworks in the show revolve around the QR Code – the modern incarnation of the bar code – and the data it contains, taking our current obsession with obtaining information on demand through iPads, wifi, and smartphones to the next level, turning everyday objects – in this case portraits and wallpaper prints – into interactive data retrieval centers.

Sweeten, who attended Oberlin Conservatory of Music has been working with sound, visual and electronically generated technologies for over a decade. His recent performances include collaborations with Nick Hallett in “Voice & Light Systems” at the New Museum, and Shana Moulton’s “Whispering Pines 10” at The Kitchen. the optimal value for y extends Sweeten’s explorations into tangible, interactive works of art.

While the QR code has primarily been used as a sales or business tool, Sweeten has been actively exploring the aesthetic and artistic possibilities of the technology since its introduction in the US. With the DataSpaceTime collaboration with Gwilliam the scope of this initial concept has been extensively refined and expanded, including new works in the show made with Jean-Baptiste Michel, Director of the Cultural Observatory at Harvard and Visiting Faculty at Google.

In the optimal value for y the images are made completely from QR codes, containing the results of an internet search embedded in each, which is then retrievable by handheld devices. Portrait images in the exhibit, including those of Gaddafi and Assange connect to hundreds of YouTube videos. These portraits present the tension between iconic or other recognizable images and the information related to that image.

The wallpaper prints are primarily a poetic gesture, providing the viewer with a structure in which to interact with English language in new ways. Using Google’s NGRAM Book Project as the source, the codes retrieve 5-word combinations that have been least used in English literature. The title of the exhibition has been derived in this manner. In addition to the prints, the exhibition also includes a sound piece: QR code audio visual remix of Handel’s Triumph of Time and Disillusion (Trionfo Del Tempo e Disinganno) Italian Libretto and live video feed displaying the data – viewer id, scan timestamp, GPS coordinates, x/y position of the scale – of the viewers activities as they scan the artworks.

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Ray Sweeten is a data artist and programmer, working in the intersection of image, sound and information systems, using a hybrid of digital and analog sound and visual media. Sweeten has performed and screened at The Kitchen, PS1, the New Museum, San Fransisco Electronic Music Festival, Issue Project Room, CinemaTexas, The Stone, Liverpool Biennial, Participant Inc Gallery, Pacific Film Archive, Microscope Gallery Event Series and others. He has received a grant from the Experimental Television Center for his work with oscilloscope graphics.and a Van Lier Residency for young experimental electronic composers. As a musician, he has performed with the international collaborative group FabricaMusica, with the multi-media synth-pop duo the Plantains, and released his own work on Suction Records, Kinetic Media, Btbmo, and Ghostly International. Sweeten studied at Oberlin Conservatory of Music with Richard Povall, Todd Winkler, Gary Nelson and composition with Randolph Coleman.

Lisa Gwilliam is a production designer and painter based in New York City. Her design work can be seen in Italian Vogue, Allure, American Vogue, Interview, Glamour, Rolling Stone, GQ and the New York Times Magazine. She has also worked on special projects for New York Fashion Week including runway presentations for Monique lhuillier, Milly NY and Tadashi Shoji and created installation events for Victor and Rolf and Puma. She is inspired by the affects of light and movement on traditional photographic processes and how that can be approximated through painting.

All images are courtesy of DataSpaceTime © 2011


Below: Gaddaffi, 70 x 70 in., Ink on Sintra, QR codes to youtube videos, 2011

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