When the UW’s Center for Digital Arts and Experimental Media (DXARTS) started four years ago, it set the standard for digital arts education and became the envy of other institutions around the world. By bringing artists, engineers and scholars together in a research-heavy, creative environment, DXARTS blurs the lines that traditionally separate creative arts disciplines from science and engineering. Led by UW Professors Richard Karpen and Shawn Brixey, DXARTS offers both B.F.A. and Ph.D. degrees in digital and experimental arts, with concentrations ranging from digital cinema to computer animation to sonic arts to robotics.
To understand just how out-there the concept behind Shawn Brixey's "Altamira" is, it helps to first know it was created for an exclusive 2004 exhibition called "Hyper-runt" in Philadelphia. Artists working in science and new technologies were given full rein to create and exhibit their cast-off projects, those far-reaching artworks nobody wanted (read: understands) and that are therefore unable to find a home in traditional museums and gallleries. "Altamira," a neuro-prosthetic, uses radio waves recorded from pulsars (collapsed stars) in outer space to create a code that stimulates viewers' retinas. That stimulation, in turn, triggers phosphenes (those patterns of colored light we see when we squeeze our eyes shut), which create a "cosmologically scaled experimental work of art in the 'mind's eye.'" (Imaginge, perhaps, seeing dazzling constellation patterns in your mind.) As yet unrealized, "Altamira" cannot currently be viewed by the public pending a safety review by the FDA.
- Return to September 2005 Table of Contents