v1b3 – from place to page – evolving how we shape and consume public space
Mat Rappaport

The public square and the city street are designed artifacts where individuals commune and collide in a series of actions routine and unconventional. Within this dynamic environment of static structures, the combination of large screens mounted to buildings and personal screens have changed the experience of these publicly accessible spaces. The tension between the built environment and the public that occupies and uses these spaces has been the central exploration of the creative curatorial project, v1b3.

In the mid 2000’s there was a proliferation of video screens in urban spaces. v1b3 began as a response to the opportunities these new platforms provided for curatorial projects that used public screens and site specific projection. These early projects explored the ability of media to temporarily modify the environment and engage with public audiences to shape “social spaces”.  v1b3 defines three areas of practice: collections of video art that address themes of urban and mediated life, site-specific and responsive media-art projects, and collaborations with urban planners and architects. The resulting works have been catalogued through the v1b3 website [http://www.v1b3.com] and by distributing dvds of the video art collections.

Public screens have continued to proliferate while small screens with access to the internet have populated our pockets in the form of smart phones. Meanwhile, the architecture of artifacts dubbed digital, virtual, and social play an increasingly significant role in our experience of cultural production be it the built environment, plastic arts, or new media.  As of 2013, 90.1% [1] of Americans have internet access and 56% of American adults have a smart phone[2]. In response to this changing context, v1b3 has employed evolving strategies for exploring our core themes. From 2012-2014 v1b3 created three curatorial projects employing the “space” of a catalog to investigate the impact of emerging media tools on artistic production while blending tangible and virtual space. The projects simultaneously seek to consider and promote the connections between artists and audience through the use of digital distribution methods.

Each catalog focuses on a different technology and method of audience interaction. The first catalog, Scan²View, plays with the tradition of the static artists exhibition catalog where an artist’s identity, via their production, is often reduced to a single image. Scan²View employs QR codes to represent each artist’s work in the catalog. This visual code is a link, scannable with a mobile device, that connects the viewer to a web-based artwork.  Artists were asked to modify their work over the course of a year, thereby making the catalog a dynamic document.

The second catalog, AR²View, focuses on site specificity by using augmented reality on mobile devices to simultaneously present artists’ projects within the Midtown Manhattan Hilton Hotel (the location of the College Art Association’s 101st Annual Conference), the printed catalog, and the catalog’s web site. v1b3 surveyed the hotel and photographically documented a selection of objects and locations, such as light fixtures, card readers, and chairs. Each artist was assigned a photograph that they responded to by producing a companion video, image, or 3-D object. The viewer of the catalog or website would use an augmented reality browser to scan the key image thereby presenting the artwork on their mobile screen, fused to the object in the picture. Nineteen projects by twenty-four artists were presented in AR²View. 

Art²Make, the third catalog, considers the impact of 3-D printing on artistic practices by presenting a selection of projects that utilize diverse approaches to using this technology. 3-D printing is often described as an innovative and disruptive technology both because it facilitates the rapid design and manifestation of products, but also because of the potential of 3-D printing to shift some modes of manufacturing away from international facilities to local production[3] (perhaps even to the scale of individual homes). The output of these printers, be they plastics, ceramic, natural fibre and even some metals, is generated by a digital file. This raises interesting questions about the relationship between designer/maker and the consumer/audience. If a consumer purchases the file, they can choose the material and scale in which the object is “printed”.  There are also challenges in protecting copyright when files can be easily shared and models modified.

Art²Make features fifteen artists and collaboratives that utilize 3-D printing in their practices. The digitally-distributed catalog employs the traditional elements of a catalog: images of the works, projects descriptions, and essays. However, as the title implies, it also includes access to the 3-D project files, optimized for printing. The audience is encouraged to “make” their own objects, collections, and exhibitions of these works. By implementing an open distribution model, this project addresses some of the questions raised by this technology.

v1b3’s recent projects and catalogs privileged access through locational intervention, ease of access, and free distribution. To date, v1b3 projects have included over one hundred artists, designers, and architects. It is the aim of v1b3 to continue to produce curatorial and site specific-works that blend the social and tangible architectures.

 



[2] Brenner, Johanna. Pew Internet: Mobile, Sep. 18th 2013. http://pewinternet.org/Commentary/2012/February/Pew-Internet-Mobile.aspx

[3] D’Aveni., Richard, A. 3-D Printing Will Change the World. Harvard Business Review. March 2013. http://hbr.org/2013/03/3-d-printing-will-change-the-world/