Traces: Online Digital Artwork

Interactive Digital Online Interarts Project


Traces_COVID19 is a research project exploring digital art, resilience and Covid-19. Designed as an interarts project, the aim was to research and develop online and physical interactive works as a way to build resilience for creatives and mitigate artistic impacts during the pandemic.

The final work can be viewed here. The project was kindly funded by CNZ’s Arts Continuity Grant (with supplementary funding by Creative Northland).

From May to September 2020 the artists journeyed on more than 150 walks along one 10km stretch of beachfront in Whangarei, Northland. Each journey was documented via poetry, printmaking, sketching, painting, photography, sound sampling and found-object collection. This content was digitised (through various processes), then hacked and manipulated with data sourced from prominent COVID-19 analytics sites. In this way the global pandemic inserted itself and changed the local experience.

Traces COVID-19 was originally launched as interactive work as part of the 2020 Fringe Festival. It was then placed online and is now part of an interactive, ongoing project in interactive online digital art practice. The research and development blogs are part of the work. The end journey you experience as audience, is really just an artefact of the artistic journey (documented in the Labs) and physical journeys that took place in that location.

Further Detail

Walking for the artists (and for many around NZ) is coping mechanism. A way of connecting to the land and to body but also disconnecting and isolating from the onslaught of digital media. Walking alleviated the mental stress that came from job uncertainty, from observing a new dystopian societal normality and from feeling the existential anguish that comes from the analytics of death.

The work is a journey that urges the audience forward (via the spacebar on their keyboard) through an ephemeral world created by layers of objects and sounds – the traces of things harvested from journeys of coping.

Our world is constantly disrupted by the statistics and analytics of death. In this work raw death data (collected from the John Hopkins site) impacts the journey causing strange glitches in both sound and image. The user may move forward and look from side to side but is eventually forced to face forward and confront the journey ahead.

The journey each day took a similar route but there was always difference (this is represented by using similar images in randomised patterns). And always was the ever present disruption of COVID making white noise, changing perception. At times it coloured the world strangely, at times distorted reality.

To create the work, traces were made of the physical collected artefacts/samples (eg botanica, plastic) by using contact prints (combining the sun, chemicals and vintage photographic paper). These prints were then scanned and processed digitally into a threejs library/environment (an extension of Javascript). These digital images were then also processed (hacked) into raw files and then placed into a sound programme to create background noise.

Both visual image and the resulting sound file were added to the threejs environment. Raw samples of sound from the journey were also added and engaged via a randomising algorithm.

The research and development process has been recorded via the Lab in the category: “Traces_COVID19”. The exploration has been technical, aesthetic and conceptual. While the final work is ultimately the result of photography and sound artistry, research over the four months involved a variety of practices including inner reflection, diary writing, poetry, printmaking, painting, photography, sound manipulation, creative coding, hacking, data analytics, media analysis and interactive digital art.

A prototype of the work was peer reviewed in September/ October 2020.

AwhiWorld is extremely grateful for funding from Creative New Zealand for this project with additional funding by Creative Northland in place to develop the physical interactive work before the end of 2020.

error: Content is protected!