Tufte to host int#039;l virtual art exhibit

by Beacon Staff • February 6, 2008

The five participating artists and artist groups were chosen by the staff of Turbulence.,Beginning today in the Bill Bordy Theater and the Huret Spector Gallery, the Emerson visual media arts department will host Mixed Realities, an exhibition of web art and new media formats not meant for traditional gallery settings.

The five participating artists and artist groups were chosen by the staff of Turbulence.org, a company devoted to exploring the convergence of the physical and virtual worlds, from a pool of artists from around the globe.

Each selected project received a $5,000 commission to develop their idea further.

Funding was provided by a grant from the Warhol Foundation to help bridge the virtual and physical worlds.

"Mixed Realities" is also the theme for this year's Floating Points lecture series, an event cosponsored by the college with Turbulence.org.

The presentation will overlay physical and virtual reality by broadcasting presentations through Second Life, a simulated reality program that allows users to exist in models of real world places or fantasy worlds by using personalized virtual characters.

Visual and media arts professor John Craig Freeman, also a Mixed Realities organizer, will be showing his "Imaging Beijing," a project that combines panoramic photography of Chinese cityscapes into a larger virtual world, allowing the user to digitally travel around China's capital.

"We've gone beyond the virtual to where the virtual and physical collide," Freeman said.

The project is an effort to document globalization's impact on people and communities around the world.

Visual and media arts assistant professor Eric Gordon, who has helped organize the event since the summer of 2007, said the exhibition will explore the phenomenon of living in both an online and tangible world simultaneously.

Aubree Lawrence, an Emerson graduate student and Gordon's teaching assistant, is helping with the symposium. She said she feels the presentation is emblematic of a larger trend.

"Anyone with even the least bit of interest in understanding where technology is headed should join the discussion, via their presence, online presence or virtual world presence," she said.