1. The Value of Art

    © 2010, Christa Sommerer & Laurent Mignonneau

    The Value of Art are interactive paintings dealing with the economy of attention and value creation in the art world. When we look at prices of artworks at auctions, they often seem incomprehensible. Competing art collectors betting against each other can create skyrocketing values for art works. Relevance and attention in terms of art history, social and critical discourse are important components for becoming a desired masterpiece with high monetary value. The amount of attention towards an art piece is directly linked to its monetary value.
    The Value of Art series are interactive experiments dealing with the value of art in a conceptual and pragmatic way.
    We transform existing paintings that we buy at auction houses. We equipped them with sensors that can measure the exact time viewers spend in front of the painting. A small thermal printer is also attached to the frame of the painting. As we know exactly the price we paid for each painting and the amount of money we spent on interface materials, plus the value of our working time for producing this art work, the initial value of the work can be exactly calculated. The initial value including all expenses and costs appear printed out on the paper of the thermal printer at the beginning of the first exhibition.
    Once The Value of Art interactive painting is shown, the work will start counting the number of visitors and the amount of time they spend looking at the painting. Through our integrated sensors the painting will constantly update its value, making the whole process of value creation for this artwork totally transparent. Visitors can follow how the value of this art work increases the more viewers look at the work. At the end of each exhibition The Value of Art will have reached a certain monetary value. The artwork could now be sold for exactly that value, or sent on to the next exhibition to increase its value even further. The more people look at the work, the more valuable it will become
    The Value of Art is a critical reflection on the economy of attention, the relationship between artist, artwork and audience, and the question of monetary and ideological value of the artists and audiences time and attention.

    # vimeo.com/63642107 Uploaded
  2. developed for The View Contemporary Art Space Swizerland
    EXCAVATE consists of a magic lantern from the 1920ies that was transformed into an interactive installation. The project was developed for a military shelter from the cold war in the area of Salenstein, Switzerland as part of Sommerer and Mignonneau’s solo show at the The View Contemporary Art Space.

    Visitors to the wet and humid cave received the EXCAVATE interface and then could explore the damp and totally dark cave. When shining some light onto the cave walls, various dark particles seem to have appeared, looking a bit like isopods. At one point these woodlice assembled and faint faces of children develop. It is not clear why they look so disturbed and scared.

    # vimeo.com/63726856 Uploaded
  3. Escape
    © 2012, Laurent MIGNONNEAU & Christa SOMMERER

    developed for The View Contemporary Art Space Swizerland

    The installation "Escape" deals with the issue of flight attempt. It was originally developed as site specific installation in the civilian airraid shelter in Salenstein Switzerland as part of Sommerer and Mignonneau’s solo show at the The View Contemporary Art Space.

    The installation consists of an antique film projector and an antique projection screen from the 1940ies. The projector was modified to hold a small video projector and some sensor technology.

    When visitors enter the room, they see a fat fly sitting on the projection surface of the screen. Once they start turning the handle of the old projector, the fly starts to frenetically move around, like it would be trapped, trying to escape. When continuing to turn the handle, more and more flies would come, packing themselves together as they would have discovered some nutrition onto the screen surface. At one point text starts to form out of the fly pack and when one continues to turn the handle, a text becomes legible. It is a chapter of "The Metamorphosis“ by Franz Kafka where the protagonist Gregor Samsa realizes that he has transformed into a gigantic insect overnight.

    # vimeo.com/63735474 Uploaded
  4. Life Writer

    Life Writer consits of an old-style type writer that evokes the area of analogue text processing. In addition a normal piece of paper is used as projection screen and the position of the projection is always matched with the position of the type writer roll. When users type text into the keys of the type writer, the resulting letters appear as projected characters on the normal paper. When users then push the carriage return, the letters on screen transform into small black and white artificial life creatures that appear to float on the paper of the type writer itself. The creatures are based on genetic algorithms where text is used as the genetic code that determines the behaviour and movements of the creatures. The algorithms were developed for one of our previpus works called Life Spacies [2] and here the text functions as genetic code for the creation of artifical life creatures.

    As in the Life Spacies system the artificial creatures created by the act of typing can be faster or slower depending on their genetic code and body shape. All of the artificial life creatures also need to eat text in order to stay alive and when users type a new text the creatures will quickly try to snap up these characters from the paper in order to get energy. Once creatures have eaten enough text they can also reproduce and have off-spring so eventuelly the screen can become very full when creatures a fed well.

    The user can also push the creatures around when using the scroll of the typing machines cylinder. She can for example push the creatures back into the machine which will crush them or scroll the creatures off the screen alltogether, making new place for new creatures.

    By connecting the act of typing to the act of creation of life, Life Writer deals with the idea of creating an open-ended artwork where user-creature and creature-creature interaction become essential to the creation of digital life and where an emergent systems of life-like art emerges on the boundaries between analog and digital worlds.

    # vimeo.com/63735655 Uploaded

Laurent Mignonneau & Christa Sommerer artworks

Laurent Mignonneau

Artworks by Laurent Mignonneau & Christa Sommerer

Christa Sommerer and Laurent Mignonneau are internationally renowned media artists working in the field of interactive computer installation. They are Professors at the University of Art and Design…

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Artworks by Laurent Mignonneau & Christa Sommerer

Christa Sommerer and Laurent Mignonneau are internationally renowned media artists working in the field of interactive computer installation. They are Professors at the University of Art and Design in Linz Austria where they head the Department for Interface Culture at the Institute for Media. Sommerer and Mignonneau previously held positions as Professors at the IAMAS International Academy of Media Arts and Sciences in Gifu, Japan and as Researchers and Artistic Directors at the ATR Media Integration and Communications Research Lab in Kyoto Japan. They also were Visiting Researchers at the MIT CAVS in Cambridge US, the Beckmann Institute in Champaign Urbana, IL, USA and the NTT-InterCommunication Center in Tokyo.

Sommerer originally studied biology (botany) at the University of Vienna and modern sculpture and art education at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna (masters degree) .

Mignonneau studied modern Art and Video Art at the “Ecole des Beaux Arts” in Angouleme, France where he received his masters degree.

Sommerer and Mignonneau completed their PhD degrees from CAiiA-STAR, University of Wales College of Art, Newport, UK and the University of Kobe Japan, respectively.

In 1992 Sommerer and Mignonneau met at the Institute for New Media at the Staedelschule in Frankfurt where they teamed up and started their collaboration in the area of interactive computer installations. Mignonneau and Sommerer’s artworks have been called "epoch making" (Toshiharu Itoh, NTT-ICC museum) for developing natural and intuitive interfaces and for often applying scientific principles such as artificial life, complexity and generative systems to their innovative interface designs. Mignonneau and Sommerer created pioneering interactive computer installations such as "Interactive Plant Growing" (1992), "Anthroposcope" (1993), "A-Volve" (1994), "Trans Plant" (1995), "Intro Act" (1995), "MIC Exploration Space" (1995), "GENMA" (1996), "Life Spacies" (1997), "Life Spacies II" (1999), "HAZE Express" (1999), "VERBARIUM" (1999), "Industrial Evolution" (2000) and "PICO_SCAN" (1999/2000) and "Riding the Net" (2000), "The Living Room" (2001), "The Living Web" (2002), "Nano-Scape" (2002), “Mobile Feelings" (2003) and “Eau de Jardin” (2004).

These works have been shown in around 150 exhibitions world-wide and are permanently installed in media museums and media collections around the world, including the Media Museum of the ZKM in Karlsruhe, Germany, the NTT-ICC InterCommunication Center in Tokyo, the Cartier Foundation in Paris, the Millennium Dome in London, the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography in Japan, the AEC Ars Electronica Center in Linz, Austria, the NTT Plan-Net in Nagoya, Japan, Shiroishi Multimedia Art Center in Shiroishi, Japan and the HOUSE-OF-SHISEIDO in Tokyo.

Sommerer and Mignonneau have won mayor international media awards, for example the "Golden Nica" Ars Electronica Award for Interactive Art 1994 (Linz, Austria), the "Ovation Award" of the Interactive Media Festival 1995 (Los Angeles, USA), the "Multi Media Award '95" of the Multimedia Association Japan and the” World Technology Award” in London (2001).

Sommerer and Mignonneau have published numerous research papers on Artificial Life, interactivity and interface design and they lectured extensively at universities, international conferences, and symposia.

Sommerer has organized workshops and invited sessions at various international conferences, such as Dagstuhl Seminar (Germany, 2003), SCI2001 (Orlando, 2001), KES2001(Osaka, 2001), AlifeVII (Portland, 2000), KES2000 (Brighton, 2000) and ART-Science-ATR (Kyoto, 1997). Sommerer has also organized several student exhibitions (Ogaki Biennale, 2003 and the IAMAS Campus Exhibition at Ars Electronica 2004 in Linz) and she serves on many conference committees (Siggraph 2005, ACM 2004, NIME 2004, ICAT 2004 etc.) and is also an active jury member at various international competitions (IP Impulse Program 2005 of the Austrian Business Association, Ars Electronica Jury 2005, UNESCO Digtital Arts Program, VIPER 2002 etc.

Sommerer is an International Co-editor for the LEONARDO Journal, MIT Press and in 1998, together with Laurent Mignonneau, she edited a book on the collaboration of art and science called "Art@Science," published by Springer Verlag Vienna/New York (ISBN 3-211-82953-9).

Dr. Christa Sommerer and Dr. Laurent Mignonneau
Professor for Interface Culture
Institute for Media
University of Art and Design Linz
Sonnensteinstrasse 11-13
4040, Linz, Austria

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