Leonardo On-Line, the website 
of Leonardo/ISAST  Leonardo, the Journal of the International 
Society for the Arts, Sciences and Technology  Leonardo Music 
Journal  Leonardo Electronic 
Almanac: monthly coverage of Internet news and digital media culture  Book Series: 
innovative discourse on art, science and technology topics by 
artists, scientists, researchers and scholars Leonardo Reviews: scholarly reviews of books, exhibitions, CDs, 
journals and conferences  OLATS, 
l'Observatoire Leonardo des Arts et des Technosciences: key works, 
artists, ideas and studies in the field  Leonardo / Activities and Projects  Leonardo / About Us   
 

CULTURAL ROOTS OF GLOBALIZATION > ART & CLIMATE CHANGE > E-INTERVIEW OF JANINE RANDERSON
   



E-interview of Janine Randerson
by Julien Knebusch


[For more information about Janine Randerson’s works, please visit : http://www.janineranderson.com/]


-----Original message-----

From: Julien Knebusch julien_knebusch[@]yahoo[.]fr
Date: Fri, 02 Mar 2007 11:46
To: Janine Randerson jranderson[@]unitec[.]ac.nz
Subject: E-interview

Dear Janine,

I am writing you to ask you if you would agree to do an email interview with me until March, 27. Would you agree to answer some of my questions ? It would be a great pleasure for me to exchange with you on your artworks, your artpractice, and thoughts about climate and its change.


-----Original message-----

From: Janine Randerson jranderson[@]unitec[.]ac[.]nz
Date: Fri, 02 Mar 2007 02:08:15
To: Julien Knebusch julien_knebusch[@]yahoo[.]fr
Subject: E-interview

Hi Julien

I am happy to do an interview.

I am happy to answer your questions - will you email them to me?


-----Original message-----

From: Janine Randerson jranderson[@]unitec[.]ac[.]nz
Date: Wed, 14 Mar 2007 00:56:02
To: Julien Knebusch julien_knebusch[@]yahoo[.]fr
Subject: E-interview

Hi julien

Sorry about the delay - I am beginning to get ready for my show in Shanghai so I have been a bit busy lately...

- I thought we could maybe start this dialogue by questioning our own dialogue with scientists in the field of climate change ?
What for specific difficulties do you encounter in this dialogue ?
in the case of your recent artworks ?

In recent artwork, such as Anemocinegraph, I have actually found the scientist who I worked with closely (Professor David Campbell at the University of Waikato) very helpful and receptive to my project. He took me out himself to show me the field research at Torehape, took time to explain it (the peat -mined area) and provided me with scientific data from that site freely.

I guess he was sometimes baffled by the value that I placed on the sonified sound of carbon emmission data. To him it sounded like "static" or ‘noise’ but I saw potential - if the highly compressed data was time-stretched and modified for use in an experimental sound composition for my artwork. This was an area that was hard for him to rationalise. Sometimes artists are interested in things that appear "useless" to scientists and you have to convince them that there is creative potential in the data you are extracting. He also was puzzled by my interest in the aesthetics of his equipment - like his "battered old anemometer" that I wanted to incorporate as part of the artwork. (In the end I only used "real" scientific instruments as a conceptual starting point, rather than a physical part of the installation.)

David Campbell told me he was impressed when he experienced the final installation because he really understood the processes that created the sounds and satellite images ; I felt he had a much different, deeper engagement with the work than other viewers. I also attended his lectures on weather and climate when I was artist-in-residence at the University of Waikato so I could understand more about the material that I was working with from a scientific perspective.

In 2005 I also worked with German PhD researcher Oakley Buchmann from the HITLab (the Human Interface Technology Laboratory) at the university of Canterbury in the South Island of New Zealand. As well as knowing everything about programming computers, and specialising in ‘augmented reality’ interfaces, Oakley was also great to work with because he was also passionate about art. He wants to keep on working with artists in the future as he finds this work satisfying in a different way to product design and corporate commissions. I am lucky because I have had good experiences with collaboration with scientists and technologists - finding the right person is important. Just last week, a radio astronomer at Auckland University of Technology sent me wav. files of sound transmissions from a radio telescope of the satellites NOAA-16 and 17 as it passed overhead on my request for my latest work. He didn't even really ask why I wanted them ! (-it was for a sound composition). Sometimes explanations for why data is needed are difficult if a concept is only in its initial stages. I research people online and ask around to find out if a scientist is likely to be approachable. Some requests for assistance are not even answered if someone is not interested. And often I have to remind myself – why should a scientist necessarily be interested in my art project ?

I find using the language of science and technical language a bit difficult sometimes; certain words mean different things to different disciplines, like the word "installation". However it is really important to me to find out as much as I can about a particular discipline, and its accompanying language, before I approach a scientist. With Oakley, we produced a glossary of terms when we described the interaction process of the installation ‘ state one, state two …’ , a language that I had not used before.

The more I know scientists personally, the harder it is to be critical of "Hard Science" ; absolute binaries between art and science don't work once you know scientists who respect artists and make a serious attempt to understand creative approaches to media. I think it is important that artists are not automatically assumed to have an oppositional approach to science. In fact, the relationship with rationalist science could often be viewed as a love-hate affair . It doesn't work for artists to claim that they represent an alternative world view – even while they are using scientific data, and then arguing that an artistic approach is unjustly excluded, marginalised or supressed from the dominant scientific paradigm.

Some thoughts there...


-----Original message-----

From: Janine Randerson jranderson[@]unitec[.]ac[.]nz
Date: Sat, 17 Mar 2007 23:54:26
To: Julien Knebusch julien_knebusch[@]yahoo[.]fr
Subject: E-interview

Hi Julien

Hi from a late summer warm Sunday morning in NZ...

Other Questions:

- What were the initial interest of David Campbell and Oakley Buchmann to work with you? Was it scientific interest or main curiosity ? Where there also a specific demand from their side ?

I think they were motivated by general curiosity. The HITLab initiated the first collaborative workshops between artists and programmers that I participated in. Ten artists were invited to "pitch" our ideas at the HITLab to gain a fellowship to work with the post-graduate technology interface designers. The HITlab students also "pitched" their area of technological interest and then we gravitated towards each other - a bit like some kind of strange "speed-dating". Oakley liked my idea of having an interactive round screen space and he later encouraged me to patent the idea. The artists' ideas were protected under copyright for the fellowship so the project initiators did value our ideas as intellectual property. The plan was that the technologists learn from the way artists think about creatively about concepts such as space, aural and visual imagery social function and audience participation. The artists benefitted by collaborating with sophisticated programmers, but Oakley also contributed creatively to the installation we made. He helped me install the movement sensitive triggers for ‘Peace in Space’ at the Film Archive in Wellington in 2005. He experienced the highs and lows of installing an artwork at first hand ; the laser triggers for sound were only finally aligned about an hour before the show opened !

I approached David Campbell independently when I was the artist-in-residence at the University of Waikato. I think David Campbell was interested in working with me as a way of expanding scientific research into another discipline and community of interest. He later published a report about our collaboration in the Earth and Ocean Sciences department newsletter. I think this was more than a "Public Relations" exercise and he was genuinely interested in my project. He also learned about the potential for sonifying the climate change data. He had never tried to use MatLab to export the carbon emmission data as sound ; wav. files - so perhaps in the future this may have some application for him. Sonification is becoming more popular in science - beyond traditional uses like the giga counter for example.

- I was also wondering whether you encountered maybe difficulties from the "art" side. Did galleries, curators, or critics had specific requirements towards you climat works (for example object-oriented requirements which might be difficult to fulfil when working with the weather or climate).

Not really. I would like to work more with the actual atmospheric material - but I am more generally concerned with systems of observation and documentation of atmospheric data so this is ok for most galleries that can handle interactive installations. My work "Anemocinegraph’was in a window space so the work slowly begins to emerge on the screens as darkness falls. This is a bit frustrating for people who expect to see the work during the day. I like the idea that there is a waiting time involved for the work to reveal itself.


-----Original message-----

From: Janine Randerson jranderson[@]unitec[.]ac[.]nz
Date: Mon, 19 Mar 2007 08:55:08
To: Julien Knebusch julien_knebusch[@]yahoo[.]fr
Subject: E-interview

Hi Julien

- You said that you "would like to work more with the actual atmospheric material". How would you like to work on this material ?

I would like to generate weather in the manner of weather modification experiments - for example in the 19th Century, cloud chamber experiments by CTR Wilson and John Aitkin, created meteorological effects (these later became important to particle physics, by making invisible particle tracks visible). My cloud generator could be a parody, in miniature, of "Big Science' American climate change solutions such as giant mirrors to deflect the sun's rays. I am yet to find a scientist to work on these ideas…

- And more precisely, how do you intend to integrate real world experience in your data interpretation ? Are you interested in real-time interactivity ?

Yes I would like people to sense hot and cold and gusts of wind. But I also think artworks can be interactive without laser sensors and programming - I have tried this but I find that too many electronics can interfere with the aesthetic of the work. A painting can be interactive just by looking at it.

- Could you please explain me how the window space of "Anemocinegraph" works ?

Basically, it just gets dark as day turns to night - like any window. The video projections are revealed more strongly as night falls. Rather than the "black cube" of most video installation spaces – I prefer natural light in the installation.


-----Original message-----

From: Janine Randerson jranderson[@]unitec[.]ac[.]nz
Date: Thu, 22 Mar 2007 10:24:53
To: Julien Knebusch julien_knebusch[@]yahoo[.]fr
Subject: E-interview

Hi Julien

Some more answers;

- I was wondering whether you use actual variation of CO2 in your music ? (that would be real-time interactivity) or a compression of these variations over a longer period of time ?

The sounds you hear on the clip on my website are compressed sounds of the actual data generated by CO2, gathered over a period of 2 months at Torehape weather station. They are not in real time. I think of the sound as an audio composition rather than music (if you can make a distinction...).

- Maybe you could explain me also how a wind speed measuring instrument, may measure carbon emissions ?

One of the systems of measurement at the Torehape weather station is a tower with a sonic anemometer and an open path gas analyser (erected in June 2005.) These two instruments combine to contiunuously measure the latent heat flux and CO2 flux as a measure of soil respiration. The scientists provided me with data from the sonic anemometer and gas analyser that had been processed with the programme MATLab. This is called the eddy covariance technique (EC). This method has emerged in recent years as an alternative way to assess carbon exchange between the atmosphere and land surface. Natural peatlands are an important sink for CO2 but peatlands like Torehape which have been drained, harvested and then abandoned have been found to be a persistent source of CO2. I discovered this from Suzanne Rutledge who has made her PhD project out of the results from the solar-powered weather station is located in Torehape. Solar power is used for the weather station because of its remoteness and of course, its environmental efficiency.

- And last but not least, is the satellite imagery related (and how) to the weather music ?

Yes - the weather satellite imagery was collected over the same two month period of time (April- June, 2006) as the sound data was collected. Both are compressed versions of the same period of time. Also the slowly animated imagery is from the NOAA satellite when it is positioned directly

over the central North Island of New Zealand, (in the same area where the weather station is located in Torehape. ) I am concerned with these forms of site –specific data collection as different modes of temporality.

- I noticed your interest in technologically mediated perception of nature. In "Anemocinegraph" weather seems almost entirely technologically mediated. How do you integrate a carnal and sensual experience (let's say a non-technologically mediated one) of wheather into the technologically assisted one ? Do you think it's necessary ?

I think the audience is engaged visually and aurally with sensory responses to the mediated nature presented in "Anemocinegraph". When one encounters a screen to walk under and become immersed in the image and sound - the mediated data becomes re-invented as a physical experience.

But I would also like to activate other senses in the future - I am interested in the haptic and sensations like hot and cold...


-----Original message-----

From: Janine Randerson jranderson[@]unitec[.]ac[.]nz
Date: Sun, 25 Mar 2007 03:12:31
To: Julien Knebusch julien_knebusch[@]yahoo[.]fr
Subject: E-interview

Hi Julien

My website is finally fixed if you want to have a browse through.

I have a very busy week ahead so this may be my last chance to write again -

- Re your sound work, I was wondering what data you use/collect. What choices you had to make ?

I made choices about the period of time I wanted to gather the data. I wanted to choose data that represented the period that I was in the Waikato, I wanted to choose data that revealed that climate change was really happening here in our local environment. It was important to create a connection between science and technology and instrumentation - a connection between my media of art and their scientific material.

- What choices you made to transform this data into sound ?

I wanted to represent scientific data in another medium and provide another approach to understanding that a lot of things are happening to our earth that you can't ncessarily see.

Turning abstract data into sound helps people to say "yes - this is really happening - carbon emmissions are really there, I can hear them. "

- Do you feel yourself belonging to a tendency in art ?

Yes - I think that art which is socially and politically engaged is the kind of art that I am sometimes connected to. Also, I would connect myself to artists who are interested in different kinds of information visualisation. My work always looks at developments in technology and tries to use the same technology in an alternative way to query the idea that technology is always advancing and increasing our understanding of the world.

- Do you feel comfortable with categories such as "Ecoart", "Sustainable Art" or "Art of Climate Change"?

No, not really, I wouldn't call myself any of those things specifically, but they signal areas of concern in my practice. Once you give yourself a title like that, the definition of an art practice may become too narrow. People might ask - why doesn't she use solar powered projectors? - why does she make screens out of perspex rather than renewable resources ? How can I call myself a "sustainable artist" if I drive a car sometimes? Although these categories are the basis of ideas and concepts for me that can be discussed in my work, I don’t want them to be all an audience sees. Once you are placed in the category of ‘sustainable art’ there is a danger that the art becomes illustrative, rather than engaging in wider ontological questions, or questions of temporality and ephemerality. The "Eco-artist" has slightly utopian overtones that I am not quite comfortable with. But I am happy to be called an artist who has engaged with the issues of climate change or environmental data …


-----Original message-----

From: Janine Randerson jranderson[@]unitec[.]ac[.]nz
Date: Tue, 27 Mar 2007 10:40:19
To: Julien Knebusch julien_knebusch[@]yahoo[.]fr
Subject: E-interview

Hi Julien

Sorry for late reply - I have been writing new lectures for work!

- How would you describe that (weather and climate) sciences and technologies have modified your sensitivity and relationship to climate ?

This is hard to give a short answer to - I like to observe the sky, I like to feel the weather effects such as rain or wind. Like many others I am now much more aware of how I can conserve energy and not use fossil fuels. I am someone who must know the weather forecast every day, but I am also aware when weather changes are coming from watching the clouds. Personal surface observations and satellite data do not always match up. Since studying the weather and climate when I was artist-in-residence at the University of Waikato, I know how weather works from a scientific point of view and I try to relate the macro scale shifts to my personal experiences.

- Is climate and weather in art history of interest for yourself and your work ? Are you starting or already engaging in (critical) dialogue with the way climate was approached in art history ?

Yes - definitely. There is a Dutch painter called Petrus Van der Velden who emigrated to New Zealand and died here at the end of the 19th century. I love his paintings of storms - he only painted in rough weather. He used to go deep into the Otira Gorge in New Zealand’s South Island and paint turbulent rivers and stormy skies while immersed in the weather. I also am interested in 1960s artists like Walter De Maria's work 'Lightening Field'.

I have a PhD scholarship now at the University of Melbourne to research further into time-based Art and Meteorological phenomena - in this study I will be reviewing art historical approaches to weather and also making new work that will expand on the ideas in "Anemocinegraph".

Further questions down the track are fine with me.

Good Luck

Janine


-----Original message-----

From: Julien Knebusch julien_knebusch[@]yahoo[.]fr
Date: Mon, 30 Apr 2007 12:00
To: Janine Randerson jranderson[@]unitec[.]ac[.]nz
Subject: E-interview

Dear Janine,

I would like to thank you a thousand times for your kindness and the time you took to reply to my

questions. I found our dialogue very interesting (at least, it was for me).

Thank you again for your cooperation and help! I hope you are fine and well.

All the best,

Julien.


[For more information about Janine Randerson’s works, please visit : http://www.janineranderson.com/]



© Leonardo/Olats, février 2008
   



[ S'informer ]   [ Recherche ]    [ Commander ]    [ Statistiques ]    [ Accueil ]


Copyright Association Leonardo/OLATS © 1997
pour toute re-publication de cette page, merci de contacter Annick Bureaud <info@olats.org>
pour les problèmes concernant le site, notre webmaster <webmaster@olats.org>
Leonardo is a federally registered trademark of Leonardo/ISAST -
Leonardo est une marque déposée de Leonardo/ISAST, selon la loi fédérale des Etats-Unis d'Amérique.