Generative Experiences: art-making as procedures and classification

Linda LAI (Curator)

For a long time, I’ve been contemplating an installation work that is a semi-sphere like the Eskimos’ igloo, with seamless projection of moving waters on its inner walls so that when I walk in, the fantasy of being once again in my mother’s womb will be invoked. (Can someone please tell me what it’s like in a mother’s womb?)

Being enveloped is an unspeakable mysterious charm that can only be turned into an experience… I began to talk to people in the projection business about what I can do. I also came across Luc Courchesne’s panoramic video viewed inside a huge upside-down bowl with an open top which he brought to the Microwave Festival 2002. From him, I learned about available products in the consumer that could bring me closer to my dream work. Subsequently, with advice from others I settled on the EGG Video 360 and started to plan on involving students to engage in a series of experiments in conjunction with another colleague’s class on virtual reality. But

I never actually returned to the igloo-womb work since then, for I was very much drawn to a creative process in which a concept, an idea, an image, an object or a tool is turned into a node with multiple possibilities, so that in the end ceaseless processes of divergent transformation become the work itself. This may sound a bit anti-work, but people familiar with 20th-century art history should find this nothing new. In a nutshell, Others call this rule-driven creativity. After Bruce Morrissette and … I call this a generative art principle. In Hector Rodriguez’s language, this is compared to a series of morphological transformation. From this realization,  based on divergent possibilities he playful departure of an assignment for my students in a class on space in conjunction with another class on virtual reality. The SARS scare took away that chance for collaboration….  So from there I keep drifting, into two very different lines of morphological transformation.  On the one hand,

Key ideas:
*anti-perspectival vision: to challenge the assumption that space pre-exists the object conceptually and visually…, the idea that an object in a painting needs a stage or a container…; liberation from the pyramid section to decide upon the angle of viewing and ray paths.
*minute changes in camera angles or optic components (depth of field, shutter speed and exposure etc.) would transform a picture’s meaning – far more radically than the way such changes function in norm film-video-making.
*framing: dispersive, divergent and digressive ‹— —› full enclosure…; the flat donut surface is not only a canvas of a different shape, but a shape that challenges assumptions for the function of a frame when it’s in the normal rectangular 4:3 ratio.  Two extremes: the circular parameters (edges) opens up, invites continuous imagination beyond the frame, or systematically closes up a picture, replacing (or equating) the horizon line and the vanishing point with the “complete frame” and “the vanishing line” respectively.

Space: materialist, performative
Narrated space, space in language action
Mediated perception: seen space
Inventing vision: tool-making
Seen and the Unseen


Lens capture and reeling becomes two distinct processes.

Anti-perspectival space…

Digital canvas…

Panoramic vision of a different species…:

  • immobile body, static position, single viewing position, top-view omni-vision

Unseen and possible space:
*Urban morphology: looking at urban architectural constructions as composing of elements that can be broken down into smaller units, like a English word can be broken up into morphemes, or a Chinese character can be broken down into parts (radicals).
*The urban space as we see it is only one state of seeable space: what is seen is part of a series of conjugational moves (morphological units). When seen as geometric lines, shapes and movements, we can starting talking about what possible structures there are before and after the ones that we see.
*Movements as a focus – a new way of seeing…
*We become more aware of what our city is like, taking a detached view.

Classification as positive knowledge production
Collapsing the strict boundaries between –
Archive and display
Analysis and representation
Presentation and representation



*A playful subversion of panoramic vision: celebration of modernity —› surveillance —› creative in(ter-)vention
*Tools: experimenting with tools / subverting consumer tools / creating our own optical tools
*A playful subversion of realism and perspectival space: exploring the narrative and visual possibilities of a donut-shape “canvas”
*Art +/:/= Research: Database —› Data-space
*New vision of Hong Kong’s urban space