Inside The Flower Matrix
James Thompson Art Gallery
San Jose, CA
March 7 – April 16, 2017
curated by Jo Farb Hernandez
Including a sound installation by Edmund Campion
With special thanks for support from Jeff Lubow at the Center for New Music and Audio Technology, UC Berkeley
The Flower Matrix is a liminal space, an imaginary Alice In Wonderland world of inversion where the rational order of reason and technology turns in on itself. Claudia Hart’s Flower Matrix exists as a virtual reality environment for Oculus Rift and Vive platforms, but it pushes into the real world as well. Claudia Hart hast created hand thrown ceramics, quilts and wallpaper – decor from the Flower Matrix, from which she has designed a custom, augmented-reality app called “The Looking Glass.” When “The Looking Glass” is in play, a viewer can look through the their smart device camera to see animated flowers harvested from The Flower Matrix embedded in them.
Flower Matrix Plates and
Wallpaper Flower Matrix
Hart’s decorative patterns are in fact also computer codes – augmented “tags” functioning like QR – that permit users to see her fantastical animations embedded in them through Hart’s Looking Glass augmented app. Through the Looking Glass one can glimpse a world of pulsing invisible flowers covered with animated graphics culled from Internet signage, computer code and emoji graphics. Programmed by the artist, her multimedia craft objects are metaphors that unfold, using computer-vision to reveal “magical” layers of new information.
Wallpaper and ceramic tiles were specifically created as décor for a new kind of “virtual-reality” lounge, a seductive environment made for viewing Hart’s Flower Matrix VR world. She is building another liminal space, but this one in the real world where one might don VR goggles and view her parallel VR one: a mixed reality fantastical architecture that randomly grows and decays using an esthetic of fakeness where technology has replaced nature, both sugary sweet and chemically toxic in equal measures.
The audio track for the Flower Matrix is a sophisticated composition by composer Edmund Campion, the director of CNMAT, the Center for New Music And Audio Technology at University of California, Berkeley. Creative programming by Yan Zhou, Chicago, IL.
The Alice Quilts, like her more recent wallpapers and ceramics were also inspired by Lewis Carroll’s 1865 Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland but use another augmented reality app for smart-phone or tablet, made specifically for them, the Alice App. As with her more recent work, Hart is thinking about our populist culture, where media has become ubiquitous and citizens have transformed into consumers, so addicted to the devices of high technology that it can only bear a world that is filtered through them. Steeped in the clichés of data-driven, punk and Romantic aesthetics, the works in this show built a space that is interactive and irrational. Each composition was navigable using hand-held devices, which delivered animated and text-based content.
Hart‘s series of decorative multimedia domestic objects are meant to subvert the classic stereotype of so-called “domestic handicraft”. Also a play on the homespun narrative, the quilts deliver stories that are read with embedded pattern tags, all programmed to be viewable with a custom tablet reader. Excerpts of Carroll's text flash on-screen, and augment the geometric abstraction presented in a fabric picture plane. This is a system vulnerable to glitches and decay, as Carroll's original narrative is degenerated into graphics that evoke pop-up banner ads, spam and trashy web design. Strobing concrete poetry emerges, a result of haptic communication between the human and the machine.
The Alices Quilts use remnants of the Alices Textiles, developed by Hart for the costumes she creating for The Alices Walking, a fashion show/opera she produced in 2014 for the Eyebeam Center for Art + Technology.
Big Crazy, 2014, handsewn polyester print and cotton fabric, tablet reader with custom case, quilt: 66 x x 66 x .25" / 168 x 168 x .6 cm, tablet: 8 x 4.75 x .5" / 20.3 x 12.1 x 1.3 cm
Little Crazy, 2014, handsewn polyester print and cotton fabric, tablet reader with custom case, quilt: 58 x 60 x .25" / 147.3 x 152.4 x .6 cm, tablet: 8 x 4.75 x .5" / 20.3 x 12.1 x 1.3 cm
Nayland Split Squares, 2014, handsewn polyester print and cotton fabric, tablet reader with custom case, quilt: 58 x 58 x .25" / 147.3 x 147.3 x .6 cm, tablet: 8 x 4.75 x .5" / 20.3 x 12.1 x 1.3 cm
Blue Ascii Girls, 2014, handsewn polyester print and cotton fabric, tablet reader with custom case, quilt: 64 x 64 x .25" / 162.6 x 162.6 x .6 cm, tablet: 8 x 4.75 x .5" / 20.3 x 12.1 x 1.3 cm
The Mini, 2014, handsewn polyester print and cotton fabric, tablet reader with custom case quilt: 34.5 x 36 x .25" / 87.6 x 91.4 x .6 cm, tablet: 8 x 4.75 x .5" / 20.3 x 12.1 x 1.3 cm
Flower Matrix Plates, set of five patterns, each 9 inches x 9 inches square