What’s the latest news from tomorrow? Craig Dorety got to attend the Incheon Digital Arts Fair in Korea, where far-reaching visions of visualists, VJs, and digital art were on display, heavily tinged with futurism. Here’s some highlights from the show from Craig in a report for CDM. -PK

Trips into the future can often be disconcerting, but when taken in pursuit of art, creativity, and digital media, they are always ripe with fantastic experience. The Incheon International Digital Arts Fair (INDAF) in Korea was no exception. Its theme is “Future cities where people communicate with one another in happiness”, and features the work of more than 50 digital and new-media artists from 12 countries. All of the works utilize advanced technologies ranging from motion, IR sensors, and real-time video processing, to giant LED matrices (Jim Campbell), modern mecha-tronics (Peter William Holden), multi-system synced CG animations, and augmented reality (Julian Oliver). Artists from all over the world are applying high-level understandings of current and bleeding-edge technology to their creative work in order to achieve compelling and thoughtful expressions that were not possible even as recently as 5 years ago. Multi-touch interfaces, augmentations of reality, embedded and physical computing, and a revitalization of process are common threads in the global realm of digital art and new media, and are allowing the artists to convey meaning to a wider spectrum of viewers and participants.

Jim Campbell’s Grand Central Station is a 10×2.5-meter curtain of powerful white LEDs. The LEDs are hung such that they face the wall; The viewer must look through the curtain of LEDs to perceive the moving image cast onto the wall. This is an obfuscation of the digital work by the very work itself and it provides wonderfully compelling and beautiful imagery.

Video: Peter William Holden at work syncing the umbrellas.

Peter William Holden’s “Autogene”, a 4 by 4 meter circular array of 8 neumatically actuated umbrellas, syncronized to the “Singing in the Rain” sequence from the same movie, is an encompassing work. Its so large that the moving umbrellas have a significant impact on the general lighting and white balance of the space. It dances and moves in time to the music, yet the viewer also hears the clackity-clack of the umbrella mechanisms and the clicking of the pnuematic valves. Peter’s work conveys a sense of humor, but at the same time mesmerizes its audience.

Photos: Wang Ziwon’s “Buddha”

In the cities of tomorrow, “all is full of 12” self portraits of Wang Ziwon, lost in motorized self-reflection and meditations on existence. There is nothing more to be said on this work; it’s simply amazing.

INDAF is part of the Incheon Global Fair and Festival 2009, which is an event celebrating the construction of an entirely new area of Korea (I mean new; it was under water just 48 months ago). The new city, the Incheon Free Enterprize Zone, is a Korean effort to attract multinational tech companies and international residents to the region. It might actually work if Korea can plunge ahead in this difficult economic time. Construction is well underway and there looks to be some outstanding architecture and urban planning. The global fair is an eighty-day event that opened on the 7th of August and will run until November 27th. As a highlight of INDAF and the new city, a special event was held at “Tomorrow City”: a strangely amazing piece of architecture: Tomorrow City offers visitors an interactive experience of what life will be like in “ubiquitous” Incheon in the year 2020. This event featured a video performance by the NTVJ group that simply blew my mind. I had seen augmented architecture videos before, but to be right next to it with an uninhibited view of its 5-story-high glory was something else entirely. I had retired my nice camera for the week, but had my pocket cam with me and managed to capture a few minutes of the performance.

NTVJ does Tomorrow City, Incheon, Korea from Craig Dorety on Vimeo.

NTVJ does Tomorrow City, Incheon, Korea.

I was able to see a lot of the event, and have a sense that our future will be interesting … very interesting. And we won’t need hallucinogens anymore.