Miroslaw Rogala’s work, Divided We Sing, 1999, is perhaps the most successful work in the exhibit because of its direct and clever interface, as well as its operant friendly countenance. Rogala maximizes simplicity, yet hints at larger human issues. Hand gestures made with (a) “wand” trigger a programmed audio sensor that influences the sound. The speakers distributed around the ceiling of the room dispense prerecorded expressions from 10th century chorales, the Biblical Story of the Tower of Babel, and passages from James Joyce’s Ulysses. The visitor becomes a performer, sharing a stage with wall illusory shadow dancers. Every time a visitor appears in Rogala’s “wand” theatre a fresh interactive performance emerges.
~Elaine King, Sculpture Magazine, 1999 (forthcoming)
Rogala’s work is perhaps best seen in a global context, the only setting large enough to accommodate his elastic vision. “The concepts of freedom and democracy apply very well to the changing face of the world,” he noted. We need to take into account not only human behavior but also artificial intelligence behavior. My work behaves and misbehaves. It provokes me and others to behave in new ways.”
~Lisa Stein, Chicago Tribune Magazine, 1999, (forthcoming)
The interactive sound environment, Divided We Sing by Polish-born, who is currently teaching at Carnegie Mellon University, presents a different mood. Using a specially designed “wand”, the (v)user activates points in three-dimensional space that have been assigned musical or other sound values... It seems to be an evocation for reunification of the planet’s species after the biblical demise known as Babel. He says his interests are freedom and democracy, and in new work he continues his exploration of problems of freedom and limitation, community building through virtual space technologies and the unifying vs. divisive qualities of diversity. It is ironic that this media maven grew up on a Polish farm without electricity. It is probably that solid grounding that allows him to successfully co-join a wide variety of form and style that in some postmodern art diffuses to ineffectuality.
~Mary Thomas, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “In With theInteractive”, April 9, 1999
One is Divided We Sing, a dimly lighted room watched by ultrasonic sensors. By moving around and waving a foot-long transmitting paddle, the participant activates sounds - angelic voices and readings from the Book of Genesis and “Finnegan’s Wake” - a computer associates with the wand’s position. The piece is intended to inspire people who experience it to think about language, connectedness and gestures, Rogala explained. “I come up with the ideas of context, and art is about setting up context”, he said. An earlier version of Divided We Sing was featured at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art in 1997. Rogala says he plans to use lessons he learns about audience interaction with Divided We Sing to create a symphony in six movements that is controlled by the audience.
~Mark Houser, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, April 9, 1999
Miroslaw Rogala’s Divided We Sing installation plots a cubic space with some form of sensors. If you enter that space with a sensitized baton, various sounds are activated (texts from the book of Genesis, snatched fragments of song) and in time a sense of the space in non-architectural terms is conveyed. The juxtaposition of sounds casually initiated by the baton suggest complex human interpersonal relationships.
~Graham Stearling, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, “Digital Traces Explores Interactivity”, April 18, 1999
This exhibition is about interactive experience: the installations, websites, games, and even the catalogue/website only come alive through active human intervention. Once the (v)user crosses the threshold to activate a piece, a web of complex actions and reactions is set in motion allowing for a highly personalized experience that in most cases will never be duplicated. In the process, a new, active relationship between the artist and viewer is forged, and we are led into the new world of interactivity. While exploring the newest technologies as a creative medium, the artists’ ultimate goal is aesthetic experience. This (interactive experience) allows the audience to shape the character of their digital experience and presents the artist with an entirely new set of challenges and possibilities. Through this process the very nature of the artwork is constantly reconfigured and the relationship between artist and audience is redefined.
~ProgramBrochure,DigitalTraces:NavigatingInteractive Domains-How Interactivity and Digital Technologies are Transforming Art, Entertainment and Commerce; Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania,
April 9 - June 20, 1999