Environment Built for Absence (an unofficial/artificial sequel to J.G. Ballard’s “High Rise”)

Tivon Rice, University of Washington

Beginning in late 2017, the demolition of the Netherland’s Central Bureau of Statistics office created an extreme type of slow cinema for railway passengers travelling between The Hague and Amsterdam. Over the following year, as the building was methodically deconstructed from the top down, I visited the site each month to document the gradual erosion. Using a drone and a digital mapping process, photogrammetry, I created an archive of virtual 3D models.    As the building’s architecture and its inevitable collapse were reminiscent of J.G. Ballard’s 1975 High Rise, I further sought to accompany this scene with the voice of a machine learning system trained on the complete corpus of Ballard’s writing. This recurrent neural network generates texts that describe the materials, invisible bodies, and possible narratives residing within the broken grounds of the building.    The resulting film combines digital animation and the voice of the machine learning system. It debuted at the 2018 Modern Body Festival in The Hague’s Theater de Nieuwe Regentes, a former swimming pool built in the 1920’s.    Made possible by The Modern Body Festival, Yukun Zhu, Google Artists and Machine Intelligence, Maxwell Forbes, and the University of Washington Center for Digital Arts and Experimental Media. Narration by Kevin Walton.   

Biography

Tivon Rice is an artist and educator working at the intersections of visual culture and technology. Based in Den Haag (NL) his work critically explores representation and communication in the context of digital culture and asks: how do we see, inhabit, feel, and talk about these new forms of exchange? How do we approach creativity within the digital? What are the poetics, narratives, and visual languages inherent in new information technologies? And what are the social and environmental impacts of these systems? These questions are explored through projects incorporating a variety of materials, both real and virtual. With recent films, installations, and A.I. generated narratives, Rice examines the ways contemporary digital culture creates images, and in turn build histories around communities and the physical environment. While much of Rice’s research focuses on emerging technologies, he continuously reevaluates relationships with sculpture, photography, and cinema. His work then incorporates new media to explore how we see and understand a future thoroughly enmeshed in new data/visual/production systems. Rice holds a PhD in Digital Art and Experimental Media from the University of Washington. He was a Fulbright scholar (Korea 2012) and is currently an Artistic Researcher at the Delft University of Technology. His projects have travelled widely with exhibitions in New York, Los Angeles, Seoul, Taipei, Amsterdam, London, Berlin, and São Paulo.

http://tivonrice.com/index.html

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