Visual Intelligences Research Project

Exhibitions : Inspiration To Order : Kirk Woolford

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Video documenting Will.0.w1sp
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Will.0.w1sp installation image

Image documenting the making of Will.0.w1sp

Image documenting the making of Will.0.w1sp

Image documenting the making of Will.0.w1sp

Kirk Woolford (b. 1967) studied both Computer Science and Humanities at Clarkson University and received an MS/MFA in Photography and Design from Chicago 's Institute of Design in 1992. He was a research fellow at the Kunsthochschule für Medien (Academy of Media Arts) in Cologne from 1992-95, an advisor to the Dance Unlimited Master’s  program in Amsterdam and Rotterdam, and is currently a Lecturer in Lancaster University’s Institute for the Contemporary Arts. He ran his own production company to finance his arts practice through commercial work from 1997-2005, co-founded Mesh Performance  Partnerships with Susan Kozel in 1999, and has collaborated on performances with Charleroi Danse, Diller+Scofidio, and igloo. Kirk has won numerous grants and awards from Ars Electronica, ISEA, Arts Council of England, Amsterdam Arts Council, South-East Dance Agency, Ministry of School and Science North Rhine-Westphalia, and others.  Most recently, he has shown work at Ars Electronica and ARCO’06.

Artist's statement on process

Will.0.w1sp is slightly different from most works of visual art in that it was conceived of as an interactive piece. The original idea came from a desire to create a work that could not be viewed directly. Ideally, the piece would continually avoid the viewer’s gaze. Eventually, I decided the apparatus required to track a  viewer’s gaze was so cumbersome that it would overwhelm the piece.  Aesthetically, I did not want viewers to think of it as a ‘digital’ piece, so I removed as much technology from the piece as possible. I used position-sensing techniques that were hidden from the viewers. I also decided to avoid traditional CGI aesthetics of hard geometry, and even harder, fully saturated colours. For many years now, I have experimented with organic ways of using digital imagery. Before building Will.0.w1sp, I spent several years exploring particle systems. I wanted to have the will.0 dancer constructed of particles flowing through motion capture data. This idea was too abstract to describe to funders and colleagues, so I spent several months in late 2002 writing software and experimenting with relationships between particle flow and motion. When I finally got my ‘Particle Man’ working several companies understood what I was doing and offered me a great deal of software created for the film and video game industries. I was quite interested by this but eventually realised I could not create anything outside of their aesthetic using their tools. I went back to the software I had written almost 2 years earlier. During this time, I learned of research done in psychology relating to ‘mirror neurons’ and specifically became interested in notions of ‘biological movement’ or the ability of human beings to recognise human movement. I spent a great deal of time balancing the particle flows to keep the imagery on the border of what was and was not recognizable as a human being.