How Media Artists Relate to Art History: The Case of Claudia Hart

DANAE
DANAE
Jul 12, 2019 · 6 min read
Claudia Hart, Big Red with Big Red Noise augmented Wallpaper, 2019: 3D visualization, bitforms gallery, NY, 2020, courtesy of the artist.

By Marie Chatel

Claudia Hart is a pioneer of media art, one of the very few that worked at the onset of merging art and simulation technologies in the 1990s. Starting with early 3D virtual imaging then-used in the military only, she subsequently experimented with upcoming techniques such as AR and VR in an all-embracing capacity. But is being technologically vanguard enough for artists to gain credibility? Is it just about mastering new tools? These questions ask to ponder the blurring of roles between a creative and an engineer or IT specialist. Conspicuously, while Hart’s embrace of technologies stands apart, it is also her capacity to generate discourses and claims around simulations that makes her art so meaningfully addictive. An excellent example for understanding the role of critical content and art history within the making of new media art.

Claudia Hart, Recumulations, 2011, 11 minute installation-based avatar dance, in collaboration with composer Edmund Campion, motion captured from a live performance by Roberto Sifuentes, courtesy of the artist.

Away from the History of Animation

Claudia Hart, Machina, 2004, 20 minute 3D-animated loop for installation or custom video monitor, size variable, courtesy of the artist.

Digital bodies and the Iconography of the Virtual Female

Claudia Hart, Ophelia, 2008, 12-minute 3D-animated loop for installation or custom video monitor, size variable, courtesy of the artist.

Romanticism Brought Anew

Landscape and pictorial scenes are also subjects of nostalgia against our technocratic pulses. In her latest work, Big Red (2019), Hart arranges a still-life with vivid colors and black outlines similar to those in Matisse’s canvas. The piece announces a new stream of works where she reinterprets the Fauvist painter’s depictions of his studio filled with paintings. Moving from the 20th-century scenes, set in time as in a photograph, to the ever-evolving possibilities of 3D simulation, Hart highlights the changes in communication flows and signals the overwhelming amount of information that saturates our techno-centred society. This approach, which diverges from her focus on digital bodies, reflects her extensive use of comparison with past representations to understand or question current times. And who better to emulate than Matisse whose work reveals such a poetic, emotional and intrinsically human vision?

Left: Claudia Hart, The Flower Matrix: An XR Environment, 2017–2018, Flower Matrix Augmented Reality Wallpapers, 2017–19 +Flower Matrix VR for Oculus Touch, 2018, music by Edmund Campion with support from the Center for New Music and Audio Technology, University of California Berkeley, courtesy of the artist. Right: Claudia Hart, The Dolls: A Mediated Ballet, 2015, choreographed in collaboration with Kristina Isabelle, performed by Kristina Isabelle, music by Kurt Hentschlager, live projection by Liviu Pasare: Mana Contemporary, Chicago, 2016, courtesy of the artist.

Subversion and Repurposing of Capitalistic Symbols of Power

Left: Claudia Hart, Alices Walking: An Augmented Opera and Fashion Show, 2014, Eyebeam Center for Art+Technology, Adrian Saich as Alice #2, in collaboration with composer Edmund Campion, Photo by Sophie Kahn, courtesy of the artist. Right: Claudia Hart, The Dolls: A Mediated Ballet, 2015, choreographed in collaboration with Kristina Isabelle, performed by Kristina Isabelle, music by Kurt Hentschlager, live projection by Liviu Pasare: Mana Contemporary, Chicago, 2016, courtesy of the artist.

Theatre and the Combination of Multiple Media

While Hart’s live performances remind of past theatre productions, she also restores Modernists’ cooperative approach to creation where many artists brought their understanding of a specific media. For the Alices Walking (2014), a sculptural opera and fashion show, she collaborated with composer and sound designer Edmund Campion and vocalist Mikey Mc Parlane, as well as performers to bring the five Alices alive. On stage, they wore sculptural costumes that Hart designed in shapes reminiscent of Picasso’s design for the ballet La Parade (1917), and which Hart augmented with poetic text animations through an application developed by Geoffrey Alan Rhodes.

Similarly, her media ballet The Dolls (2017) was subject to collaborations with Kristina Isabelle, Kurt Hentschlager and Liviu Pasare. Her costumes also share the streamlined allure and cumbersomeness of Oskar Schlemmer’s designs for the Triadic Ballet (1922), another appealing reference knowing how the Bauhaus valued cross-disciplinary collaborative approaches, appreciated the role of women as artists, explored upcoming media and reevaluated some crafts to the status of art — all themes which are essential to Hart.

DIGITAL ART WEEKLY

New media, current trends and art historical perspectives.

DANAE

Written by

DANAE

DANAE is a network for digital creation and its copyright management. Find out more at danae.io

DIGITAL ART WEEKLY

New media, current trends and art historical perspectives.

DANAE

Written by

DANAE

DANAE is a network for digital creation and its copyright management. Find out more at danae.io

DIGITAL ART WEEKLY

New media, current trends and art historical perspectives.

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