Description

“New Dunites” is a site-specific art project comprising research, an experimental augmented reality application and an interactive multimodal installation. It investigates a historically rich geographic site in an attempt to articulate and augment the interaction between human and the environment through creating a unique spatial experience that integrates the digital and the physical, of the inanimate and the animate, of the remote and the present, the visible and the invisible.

Embedded in this research and production, we are focusing on the intersection of two distinct concepts: "Archeology of the Media" -a term coined and developed by authors like Erkki Huhtamo, Friedrich Kittler and Siegfried Zielinski, that reflects on today's technologies by linking them to the socio technical deep histories out of which they emerged -and "Steps to an Ecology"- which stems from the work of the philosopher and cyberneticist Gregory Bateson-. Bateson understood "Ecology" not as something given but as a conceptual place one arrives to through careful preparation.

In order to examine such particular and powerful concepts, Guadalupe-Nipomo Coastal Dunes in California is chosen for the site of inquiry, for it embodies a very complex juxtaposition where the natural and the man-made come together in an unusual way. It is not only an Official Archeological Site containing the buried ruins of the Cecil B Demille's epic film “Ten Commandments” –the largest film set ever built (1923), but also a wildlife refuge, a habitat to 200 bird species including endangered ones. Above the ground and over the dunes is a fragile and diverse ecosystem of many plant and animal species, live in different forms yielding to a highly rich soundscape, while below the ground lay the artifacts of a media-historical landmark (the ruins of the film set), in addition to a continuum of the ecosystem.

The attempt to explore a land of such complexity brings forth many questions: What are some methods artists can use to explore the complexity of this ecologically diverse, culturally and historically rich coastal land? How do we begin to unravel the intricate layers of histories -- real, simulated, artistic, and biological? These questions will be investigated via tools and methodologies that are borrowed from many different disciplines, ranging from acoustic ecology to geography, from cinema to computer science, from archaeology to history of media.

Inspired by a group of intellectuals and artists inhabited the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes during the thirties who called themselves “the Dunites”, this proposal first examines the elements of this unique space, then explores some of the technical tools we can use to gather physical data, and finally lays out a production plan for a media installation.