Author Archive for Nova



Glow is a dusk to dawn performance and media art festival which took place for the first time on July 19th 2008 in Los Angeles. It is envisioned as a museum without walls, a way of bringing contemporary art to the public. “Media art meets the masses”, that sort of thing. The public in question for this particular event consisted of 200,000 people passing through a stretch of beach and an old historic pier all in a single night. The massive scale of the event probably left many of its commissioned artists wondering how they could ever go back to the narrow confines of the gallery again.


My favorite installation is by New York based Taiwanese American Artist Shih Chieh Huang whose recent exhibitions have taken him to the Venice Biennale, the New Museum of Contemporary Art in Manhattan and the Shanghai MOCA to name only a few. His process-orientated work transforms mass produced objects and everyday detritus into kinetic sculptures which seem infused with life.


Before receiving the commission from Glow, he happened to be doing a two-month residency at the Smithsonian in Washington which allowed him to study the Smithsonian’s collection of iridescent marine life forms. For Glow, he filled the walk way under the historic Santa Monica pier with slow-moving sculptures of marine creatures intricately constructed from zip-ties, power adapters, plastic bags, wires and plastic tubes… To me his work is always very much about material. There is a lot of aesthetic discipline in the way he juxtaposes one piece of recycled waste and the next.


I missed most of the works displayed that night, but I especially regret not seeing Usman Haque’s ‘Primal Source’ up close. A giant water screen is conjured up on the sand. The sound created by the nearby audience constantly changes the light patterns projected onto the water screen. At some point during the night there were thousands of people surrounding this piece. If Glow is all about public spectacles, then this was certainly the showpiece. Usman Haque has a background in architecture and has been responsible for a number of impressive large-scale interactive installations recently. Check out his website for more.


You can just make out Usman Haque’s upside down waterfall on one side of this picture, the bright spot on the other side is my piece Moon Theater created in collaboration with Michael Kontopoulos and based on code by Andres Colubri. Moon Theater is designed to address issues of scale and social performance in a public setting. In the context of Glow, it is realized as an opportunity for communication and expression between members of a large crowd.


The piece successfully sustained a community around itself throughout the night, transforming strangers into collaborative performers.


Shadow puppets are mapped onto the movement of people’s hands and projected onto our artificial moon using code written in Processing.

Moon Theater from Nova Jiang on Vimeo.


To quote another artist exhibiting at Sonar, ‘I hate crowds, but I’ve never hated a crowd this big.’ SonarMatica (the multimedia exhibition inside Sonar Complex) turned out to be a nice place to escape from the relentless chaos and irreparable ear damage. Be warned, there is nothing in this blog about music and only very partial coverage of one multimedia exhibition. I managed to miss SonarCinema, Sonarama and Arte Digital A La Carta, having spent all my time in the dark vault where Sonarmatica took place nursing my piece.


The theme at Sonarmatica this year is future-past cinema. Beautiful pieces of pre-cinematic technology are resurrected and displayed side by side with some very slick new media art. This really brings an interesting historical perspective to the exhibition. I think it’s a good idea to be humbled by the old timers now and then. For example, Alvaro Cassinelli’s ‘Boxed Ego’ which exploits stereoscopic lenses faces a large 18th century stereoscope. Two centuries can be traversed by a few steps. ‘Boxed Ego’ invites the audience to peer into a box to see a tiny three dimensional video of him/her self in the act of peeping. The video is deliberately delayed which creates an interesting awareness of time. The theme of self-voyeurism is unsurprisingly very popular with the festival goers.


Marnix de Nijs’s “The Beijing Accelerator” is quite an experience. A joy stick is used to synchronize the movement of the chair with the movement of the city scape on screen. Giddy, disorienting and fun, it’s tempting to ignore what the artist intends and just spin as fast as possible while trying not to fall off.


Stage Fright” uses the simple mechanism of a swing to make a simple narrative unfold. The participant must swing as high as possible in order to see what happens next. The project is developed at the Medialab-Prado during the Interativos workshop with a team of awesome collaborators. I especially want to thank Valeria Marraco, Sytse Wierenga and Emanuel Andel for creating the video.

One of my favorite pieces at SonarMatica is Julien Maire’s performance “DemiPas”. It features a converted projector that uses slides which are intricate little machines in themselves. The complicated mechanical movement of the ‘slides’ animate different scenes and push the story forward. It was whimsical and moving, I strongly recommend seeing it. It worked nicely with Takashi Kawashima’s shadow puppetry performance “Takashi’s Seasons” which mixes the traditional and the new.

Other cool pieces…

FLIPBOOK! – Juan Carlos Ospina Gonzalez / Fabrica

Andy Cameron, Oriol Ferrer Mesià, David McDougall, Joel Gethin Lewis, Hansi Raber – FABRICA – We Are The Time. We Are The Famous

Julian Oliver – levelHead
Paola Guimerans, Horacio González e Igor González – Biophionitos

A zoetrope!

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