Sculptural and Immersive Approaches


Cybernated Art (pdf) by Nam June Paik

Explore The Center for Urban Intervention Research which includes this manual (pdf) for urban projection

Related and wonderful, but optional due to time…
Installation Art and Experience (pdf) by Claire Bishop (the first few pages introduce the concepts in the book)


Lis Rhodes | Light Music



Nam June Paik



They Upped Their Game After The Oranges from Jane Cassidy on Vimeo.






Design Process I The living, Breathing Wall from Behnaz Farahi on Vimeo.


GOLEM X MBA from BK I Digital art company on Vimeo.



Projection Mapping Diorama from Mike Alger on Vimeo.



Animal Warmth No 64 from Ali Momeni on Vimeo.



21 Thoughts

  • Lona

    ALL of these works are great but i’m left wondering how a lot of it works… like animal warmth no64? are the sounds just a track that have been made to synchronize to the light patterns or are these the actual sounds of multiple light bulbs lighting up? (random but this piece reminds me of steve reich’s pendulum music even tho they’re not the same thing at all)

    same with the living breathing wall.. i want to know abt the program they’re using to map out the speed of those metal arc things? is this wall motion sensitive? is it reacting to whoever is walking in front of it?? although i’m unsure of what sound is doing in that environment, i think this piece is v immersive bc it’s playing with both light and 3 dimensional motion (even just watching this on my small laptop screen, i can imagine the rhythmic pull and release that i would feel if i were there). i bet being in a small room where all the walls are like that would be awesome

    i think a lot abt augmented reality while I’m watching these videos. what i find much more immersive and more “realistic” abt these works are that they utilize the constraints of real life space and objects, like statues or faces or rooms etc., and offer a warped environment that you can actually live and breathe in in real time. i’m thinking abt dead surrealist painters too.. how would they create if they were alive today and knew abt these technologies? hmmmm

    • triangleline

      That question… How does it work?

      Do we lose sight of content or other aspects of a piece when the focus is on the how? or, does the desire to understand how something works simply add to the experience?

      • Isabella

        I agree with Lona, while watching these videos I was constantly thinking about what was going on behind the scenes to produce these visual environments. However, I don’t believe that this desire to reveal the magic beneath the art was taking away from my viewing experience. I simply wanted to understand the processes in hopes that I could learn from them and gain insight into my own work. I enjoyed watching these approaches to projection mapping, sound mapping, and immersion and I am beginning to realize how much potential lies behind these forms multimedia performance and art.

      • Michelle

        I had a similar reaction to Lona and Isabella’s––that I was constantly wondering how some of the pieces were made, particularly the Levitation piece (which was incredible). I did feel that my wondering about how it was made distracted me from possibly experiencing the piece in a different way. I don’t know whether that meant I lost sight of something else, or whether my experience of bewilderment was simply heightened. I really don’t know the answer, but to contrast, while watching the Golem piece, I was far less concerned with how it was made, since we learned how to project onto faces in class. That piece elicited much more of a visceral reaction in me, particularly at moments like 1:25-1:27, where the estranged face of a woman(?) who is being attacked is brought to life, and that’s what I could focus on. Similarly, the Real-Time Face Tracking & Projection mapping didn’t leave me perplexed at how the imagery was accomplished, but rather excited about the possibilities of projection mapping onto a moving body. I guess my answer to if we lose sight of content/other aspects by focusing on the how is yes, but I don’t that it necessarily adds to or diminishes the experience either, it just shapes it. (at least from my own personal experience/reactions to today’s materials)

  • Amber

    I am really interested in what Paik means by “cybernated life”
    “Cybernated art is very important, but art for cybernated life is more important, and the latter need not
    be cybernated”
    in this manifesto the concept of “art” is expanded to encompass people’s lived experiences in the world, not just in an interactive “art” or installation setting. The idea of cybernetics as a framework for seeing art and life is really interesting to me: the content of a given artwork is not really what is important from this perspective, but the emphasis is on examining the relationships between participating bodies (presumably this is anything from the interactivity of two people in conversation, or a viewer and art object, or light and surface, etc etc).
    I feel like the way the viewer or consumer of an artwork processes the relationships between elements of the piece is a major part of what determines if we “like” something or not. I “like” things that create new or different relationships between elements, and I think this is why installation art where the viewer’s body is a significant part of the experience is so compelling to me: this is still a new relationship being built where the viewer becomes part of the art or the medium, and there is a simultaneous discomfort and pleasure in the weirdness and unfamiliarity of that new relationship where one can no longer be simply an “observer” but rather an exister, or something. Maybe this is something like what Paik means by “cybernetic shock”…

    My favorite of these videos was levitation. The most interesting part of projection mapping to me is the ability to create the illusion of empty space and other different compartments etc out of a solid surface, and this video does that really well. It also made me think a lot about the relationship of the dancer/performer to the projection and piece as a whole. Having a human body in this futuristic projection made it a lot more interesting to me, and I wonder how the two things were coordinated. Did the dancer perform first, and then the projection was planned afterwards? How can you tell your relationship to the position of the projection if you are unable to see it while performing?

    • Gillian

      Amber, I really like your thoughts on Paik’s manifesto, and I totally agree with the “simultaneous discomfort and pleasure in the weirdness and unfamiliarity” of becoming a “part” (sort of) of an art piece, instead of just audience.

      Paik ends the manifesto by saying “the buddhists also say/ karma is samsara/ relationship is metempsychosis/ /we are in open circuits.”

      “metempsychosis,” means “the supposed transmigration at death of the soul of a human being or animal into a new body of the same or a different species.” there is, to nam june paik, a true spiritual element to interactive art. The line between fine art and life has been blurring more and more since the Victorians; this art which is interactive is a megastep in that process, in which art, by being interactive, by involving the viewer, is as an experience a reflection (or an extension, or a preconception?) of reincarnation, of spiritual transport.

      And paik does not let us forget death’s role in the equation, I think it is important to point out. That by being an audience member (/participant) in these interactive, relationship-based pieces is a memento mori, is a form of death, is a self-erasure (which person paik sees as an expansion) which I would argue is not THE, but a goal of art. It is a painful ecstasy—-truly uncomfortable AND pleasurable, and perhaps is the “cybernetic (induced) shock” to which Paik refers.

      • Meesh

        Wow, so beautifully said! The points that you and Amber brought up are so interesting. Amber said, “the content of a given artwork is not really what is important from this perspective, but the emphasis is on examining the relationships between participating bodies (presumably this is anything from the interactivity of two people in conversation, or a viewer and art object, or light and surface, etc etc).” and I totally agree with that. The cybernated art article brings up the avant-garde movement and John Cage as being influencers to Paik. I think Paik totally embodies the movement in his own work; his work is obviously new but the style old in ways; by stressing visual and acoustic rhythms, patterns, and the overall form he’s paying homage to the movement. The form becomes more important than social actors; associations, rhythms, mood/tone/effect are more important than persuasion.

        And Gillian — your last paragraph on self-erasure and painful ecstasy are so amazing and really made me think about cinema/its origins and what Paik / these projects artists was/are doing. Just like how Paik turns television and the Pope on their heads to create conversation about American culture and life, I think that these projection/sculptural artists are turning cinema, in its basic understanding, on its head. It can be argued that people watch television and movies to escape their own lives, but I think that these artists play into the innately selfish attributes of cinema. People like to watch tv/movies because they can temporarily put themselves in another’s situation. We relate to emotions and events on screen to projecting them onto ourselves. With these projection pieces, we literally become part of the piece. Like you’re saying, it’s truly uncomfortable, but pleasurable at the same time. I think I’m talking a bit in circles at this point but Paik and the other artists’ videos on this page almost seem to playing on the human experience by using light and physical bodies in a space. Self-erasure as expansion makes me sense to me when I think this way because, in these pieces, we are expanding our own experience instead of “replacing” it watching a 2-dimensional screen.

      • Gillian

        i meant *perhaps paik in the parenthetical in the last paragraph, not “person paik,” although i think “person” is a great gender-neutral title

    • triangleline

      Let’s be sure to discuss this concept of “cybernated life” in class.

      I like your comments about the pact of interactivity (this discomfort / pleasure tension). While “interactive art” might disturb old modes of engagement and free audiences from being passive consumers, it requires the spectator to work, and often perform, according to the artist’s rules.

      • Liza

        I love this idea of the disruption of standard ways of consuming art with interactivity. This allows artists to create their own new ways of communicating with an audience.

    • Liza

      I’m really fascinated by the notion of “cybernated art” as Paik introduces in his manifesto, echoing what other people commented. As Amber said, I think it’s really important to think more deeply about the notion of the cybernated life and what the means for creating work. In this way, I think that Paik is asking us to consider not the manner or the ideology that governs a given art piece in isolation, but the ways in which these works function in the framework of life itself. And, through this, an art piece enters into a “new” space, an interactive space…(as beautifully articulated by Amber). This really interests me and i think should we considered very closely. If we’re making interactive pieces, our medium is no longer simply the art methodology that we’re engaging with, but life, experience, etc. itself. As Paik ends, “we are open circuits”, he almost calls us to open up our perspectives of art creation to consider the contexts greater than the insulated structures of the medium itself. This is so cool…

      This brings up the idea that art is living thing (for lack of a better work)…this is where interactive art becomes a really attractive and exciting medium.

  • triangleline

    This seems relevant to some of the discussion here. From an essay called System Aesthetics by Jack Burnham (1968)…

    Conceptual focus rather than material limits define the system. Thus any situation, either in or outside the context of art, may be designed and judged as a system. Inasmuch as a system may contain people, ideas, messages, atmospheric conditions, power sources, and so on, a system is a “complex of components in interaction,” comprised of material, energy, and information in various degrees of organization. In evaluating systems the artist is a perspectivist considering goals, boundaries, structure, input, output, and related activity inside and outside the system. Where the object almost always has a fixed shape and boundaries, the consistency of a system may be altered in time and space, its behavior determined both by external conditions and its mechanisms of control.

    • Liza

      We should definitely unpack this in class in reference to some of the other concepts that were explored in the comments, as I think it really articulates the idea of making work in a system. It opens up art, that in many traditions has been contained within itself and for itself, to consider the “systems” by which it’s participating in. This means there is a LOT to consider, but in considering, the results could be really fruitful..

    • Liza

      Oh, and one more thing, I love the last part about the “mechanisms of control” of a given system. That means that there are factors that exist outside of the artist, some control is given up to the system itself. For our purposes, it’s interesting to consider how the audience possesses some control in the meaning, consumption, form, etc. of a given interactive work, and what the means for the work as a whole. I love this tension of control and the possibilities in working in and through that.

  • Corrinne

    work that uses projection mapping to take up space without really taking up any space at all is something that i think makes it really special and really confusing. i also wonder about the permanence and think that when the work decides to not be permanent, like the real-time face tracking video, there’s a strange sort of futuristic element that makes me feel like i’m sort of far away (not thinking of distance totally but thinking about time). I also like the fact that I’m frustrated because the work isn’t permanent. I wonder if a love of forever is just a human thing…it would be cool to challenge this idea w/ projecting mapping – maybe projecting things of permanence onto impermanent structures or vice versa…that idea was probably inspired by the projection of the eye blinking onto the sculptures.

    also wondering if anyone has “Electronic Superhighway” or “Megatron/Matrix” by nam junk paik at the portrait gallery? they’re pretty cool in person and really take over the room. ah wait there was also another exhibit i think last summer at the portrait gallery w/ projection mapping where words fell over your body as you observed the exhibit. there were also little cameras reading the sound outside of the window. ya

    would like to learn about paik’s process behind “Megatron/Matrix” — have been curious about that for a couple of years now.

    • Sophie Fields

      I agree, it is really interesting to think about permanence in terms of art nowadays, when we have so much art that is new media based and can be really ephemeral!! I saw nam jun paik’s “electronic superhighway” at the smithsonian art gallery in dc a couple years ago and it really made a big impact on me….one of those bright, colorful, “larger than life” works…going off of what meesh mentioned in her comment, you really have no choice but to become a part of the piece when they’re that big. They are confronting the viewer with their size, and especially with the electronic superhighway one, you have to go up close to look at what’s displayed on each individual television, so you really feel like you are in contact with the work in some sense. Also, peter, I think that the desire to understand how a piece works only adds to the experience of viewing some works, it is simply another facet of viewing art in my opinion!

  • Corrinne

    also (this is definitely random) but being an observer that is a part of the work reminds me of quantum entanglement which is all about waveforms collapsing just by being observed

    but yeah unlike a painting or something like someone in the audience can really shape projection work and there’s this reaction/collapse/decision that happens when an observer is present with this sort of stuff and i’m not really bringing these ideas together well but observation just seems so important here

  • Sophie Fields

    Oh!! Also we should discuss the Yayoi Kusama exhibit that is at the Hirshhorn museum in DC rn !! I’m sure everyone has seen pics of it on instagram…it is a good example of a truly immersive art experience, the space itself where viewers go to stand and look at the infinity mirror rooms is so small!! pic:

    It shows just how effective some mirrors and interesting props can be!! (ok the exhibit is definitely a lot more than just that) but people love to be immersed in different worlds!! Whether through a stimulating video or a visually interesting environment…I really want to keep exploring immersive art through installations..super interesting. What about sense of smell also

  • Will

    Lis Rhodes talks about getting away from the passive viewing experience of the cinema and instead allowing viewers to actively engage with the material. The act of viewing a film in a theater is passive. The viewer’s attention is dominated by one screen. In the 1975 piece “Light Music”, Rhodes breaks down this relationship by placing two screens in a space and allowing viewers to move within the space freely.
    In the article Cybernated Art we learn that Nam June Paik wrote “the cathode ray tube will replace the canvas”. Paik saw video art as replacing the traditional viewing experience of the canvas.
    Lis Rhodes and Nam June Paik both seem to place “video art” in opposition to more passive/traditional modes of experiencing art such as the cinematic experience and the singular canvas.
    Thought the living breathing wall was really cool. Seeing the process of making it was really helpful.
    The projection mapping on the statues in the Golem video was also really interesting. I liked seeing how projection mapping can bring the statues to life.

  • Ori

    I was really interested in Lis Rhodes discussion of her piece as a “film that changes every time it is projected.” Obviously every piece is observed under different conditions that give it different meanings/affects, but there’s something about the projected medium that makes this dynamic element more apparent. Maybe it’s the physical space between source (projector) and image (screen) that gives the viewer a more direct way to influence/subvert the final piece. I also think it has to do with the ephemeral/non-permanent nature of projected pieces that other people have mentioned which gives people the freedom to intervene without fear of “messing up” someone else’s work. Like you wouldn’t go up to a painting or sculpture and start messing with it because of the permanence of the material. I also thought it was interesting how Rhodes mentioned the peculiar responses her piece garnered in different cultural contexts (in Tokyo the audience sat down, in Athens they danced, etc). This kind of interactivity seems to make the pieces not just a “study” of some material, but also a study of the audience… or a study of the relation b/w piece and audience….