Myron Krueger and Pipilotti Rist

For this paper I will be comparing and contrasting two artists from the several I have chosen to research this year in Art 346. My two artists are Myron Krueger and Pipilotti Rist. Both of these artists have contributed to the digital media realm of art in their own way. Even though the mediums at which they have chosen are different they still have some connecting factors as well.
Myron Krueger is an American Computer Artist that got his degree in computer science at the University of Wisconsin. He is considered to be one of the first generation of virtual and augmented reality researchers of our time. During his career he created many works that involved computer technology and an audience that interacted with his works. Krueger collaborated Dan Sandin, Jerry Erdman, and Richard Venezky to create a computer controlled environment called “glowflow.” This work would respond to the footsteps of the audience via sensors that lit the floor as the viewer walked through the room. The lights were accompanied by sounds produces by a Moog synthesizer. Though the piece was a success visually Krueger thought it was lacking the user or audience involvement he wanted. The user was not aware of the interactions they were having with the technology in the gallery space.
            “Videoplace” was that very video medium he was looking for. Where there was finally a dialog between man and machine. Originally this was a concept that he had developed during the mid-70’s that continued to evolve over time as technology became more and more developed. It consisted of two or more rooms that could vary in distance from each other. The connected rooms sees both a projection of themselves and of the other user on the same screen. The other user’s projected image could be shrunk, rotated, and color keyed. It could interact with both the room occupant’s image and other computer generated images created. Krueger was quoted saying, “The beauty of the visual and aural response is secondary. Response is the medium.” It was the audience actively sharing in the creation of the art that was important. “Videoplace” no has a permanent residence at the State Museum of National History at The University of Connecticut. Considering that this is one of the first instances where audience interacts to create a virtual reality. I relate Krueger’s stance with virtual reality with Marshal Mcluhan’s thoughts on his interpretation with television at the time. Virtual reality has a large demographic potential with the way it can influence the vast majority of the public. I remember what my engineering professor said once, “Show me and I’ll forget, teach me and I’ll learn, involve me and I will understand.” That is what virtual reality has the potential to do. It has the ability to include people in these responsive environments. Though these interactions at Krueger’s time were simplistic at the surface level, creating simple images and art forms. It is the human element that gives these virtual space that chance to become something more than what they were created for. Krueger didn’t just create a virtual space for himself, but developed a new world entirely for many to explore in the opportunity to communicate, learn from, and interact differently with one another like never before.
My second artist goes by the name Pipilotti Rist, her real name is Elisabeth Charlotte, she got her nickname from the character Pippi Longstocking. She studied commercial art, illustration, and photography and the University of Applied Arts in Vienna and later video at the School of Design in Basil, Switzerland. She began her video work using super 8 film during her college year. Rist was largely known for her works to include topics of gender, sexuality, and the human body. Her films would last several minutes and often involved heavy editing with its color, speed, and sound. One of her films that gave her notoriety was PickelPorno (Pimple Porn) 1992. This was filmed using a fisheye camera that had two bodies in various states of intertwining and suggestive positions while she edited in a naturistic background consisting of flowers, volcanic eruptions, and other ambiguous close ups.
Her film Ever is Over All 1997 was the film I decided to go into further detail with. Setup at the Museum of Modern Art, her film was a Diptych set up in the corner of the gallery space. On the left you see a woman dressed in a blue dress and red heels strolling down an urban sidewalk. The right video consists of close up shots of flowers from various locations of the world. As the woman walks down the sidewalk she is caring a large flower, she uses this flower like a sledge hammer as she smashes car windows parked on the side of the road. This is a bronze flower painted in the likeness to look like one of the flowers in the second video to the right. Rist also relied upon audio to further create a contrast between the two films. This was at a time in the world where the generation grew up with MTV, audio and visual was now fully established as a norm within the culture. It would lose impact if it did not have audio. I believe that Rist likes to create these odd combinations of nightmare and magic as it vastly over shadows logic and common sense. She juxtaposes the acts of aggression or annihilation one might see in an urban city with the benevolence and tranquility of the nature side of her story. Even as you hear the birds chirping in such a peaceful manor it continually gets interrupted by the shattering of the glass and the unnerving drones of the music on the urban side of the story.
I feel Rist has anarchistic tendencies in her work, she is a feminist, but actively uses the idea of sexuality and gender stereotypes and turns them on their head. There is heavy symbolism with flowers and the idea on womanhood and the fact that she is using a flower as a weapon smashing things in an urban environment makes me think she is trying to show how woman are continually struggling with the duality of wanting to be seen as an equal in the work place, but yet still be able to express themselves sexually and not be seen as an object. She even furthers her stances on gender roles by showing a woman police officer that waves at the woman in the blue dress. Since becoming an officer s more commonly associated as a “man’s” job it strengthens her critique on the social standards.

One of the few comparisons I found between the two artists’ was that they needed larger gallery spaces to accurately display their works. As the space potentially gets smaller so to the message they are trying to convey. The major connection I saw between the two pieces were their perceptions between fiction versus reality. Krueger was using a fictional world to create a connection to the real world. Again, though simplistic at first his ideas would set the stage for people creating a whole new version of themselves in the virtual world as technology progressed. It is still a real person behind the pixels. Rist balances the fiction vs reality with her dreamlike film. Everything in her film was plausible, as in, it stayed within the ideas of the real world. Where it becomes fiction is the messing and dichotomy of the two films side by side making it seem more like a dream. Also the absurdity of the act of running around downtown smashing windows is not something that one would consider seeing on a day to day basis. Though using two different mediums both artists wanted their audience to leave from viewing their art able to discuss the implications of what the art could mean for the future.

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