Subtle Technologies Festival 2011 | May 28 – June 5 2011 & Digicult present:

Curated by Marco Mancuso and Claudia D’Alonzo for Digicult

Innis Town Hall, Toronto
02 June 2011


Hidden Worlds
curated by Marco Mancuso for Digicult

When the eye flickers (Quando l’occhio trema)
curated by Claudia D’Alonzo (Univeristy of Udine, Digicult) & Mario Gorni (DOCVA)


A Myriad of vibrant phenomena. The hidden worlds of audiovisual art-science
lead by Marco Mancuso for Digicult

Digicult has been invited by Subtle Technologies festival in Toronto to present 2 Videoscreenings: “Hidden Worlds” curated by Marco Mancuso and “When the Eye Flickers” (Quando l’Occhio Trema) curated by Claudia D’Alonzo (Univeristy of Udine, Digicult) e Mario Gorni (archivio DOCVA) .

“Hidden Worlds” is another chapter of Marco Mancuso’s research on audiovisual art-science which started from Bruce Sterling’s Fabrica Workshop, continued with the lecture taken at Museo della Scienza in Naples in 2009 and fixed with the curatorship at Sincronie Festival 2009 and invitation at Cinema & Science convention organized by University Roma 3.

“When the Eye Flickers” (Quando l’Occhio Trema) is a Claudia D’Alonzo’s critical research on reconstruction of the historical and methodological path of the use of the Flickering technique, togher with Mario Gorni and Docva Archive (Milan)

The videoscreening “Hidden Worlds” was enriched by a critical essay & lecture, led by Marco Mancuso, entitled “A Myriad of Vibrant Phenomena: the hidden worlds of audiovisual art-science”

Subtle Technologies is a gathering of artists, scientists, technologists, engineers and the general public. The festival share cross-disciplinary ideas, explore new technologies, showcase creativity and incubate the next generation of practitioners at the intersection of art, science and technology.

2011 marks the 14th year of festival and organization. The audience and visibility have steadily grown since 1997. The festival is now well-known in Toronto and internationally as a unique venue for bringing together cutting edge science and art. Our events are attended by intellectually curious people from all parts of society—especially those with an interest in art, technology, science, engineering, architecture or design.

The annual June Festival includes a symposium (3 days of interdisciplinary presentations, demos, lightning talks and panel discussions), performances, exhibitions and films, speed networking and more. Starting in 2010–2011, the festival began a series of year-round events, partnering with many community groups to run workshops, literary events, documentary screenings and other events throughout the year—all focused on bringing together art, science and technology.

“Hidden Worlds”
Screening curated by Marco Mancuso for Digicult
: Short Version

The screening Hidden Worlds is a critical reflection upon the existing connection between audiovisual art, energy and science on the borders of cinema, video and digital.

The Hidden Worlds exhibition celebrates one of the most fascinating yet obscure territories of artistic audiovisual contemporary research: the relation between art and science. The video screening produces works that induce into a critical reflection on the existing relation between audiovisual contemporary artistic research (as regards to cinema, video and digital experiences) and applied sciences.

This project, dealing with different artistic examples which investigate new expressive forms for the representation of the sound-image relation, deliberately avoids focusing on the existing common aesthetics among them, as well as on a possible expressive language. It rather suggests an overview on specific systems for sensorial perception, and emotional mechanisms of “saturation”, achieved through the use of hybrid techniques, that today like never before expand the tradition of analog experimental cinema and digital audiovisuals.

What it is today recognized as “immersive art-science” is a form of creative expression meant to rise above the notion of art as abstract representation, in behalf of a multi-sensorial experience. The purpose here is to create aesthetical fascinating objects and also to invite the public to go beyond ordinary perception’s border. Immersivity awakens a synesthetic awareness both in the mental and in the physic space. A myriad of vibrant phenomena, usually beyond the observer’s reach, are instead made reachable through an accurate psychophysical conditioning.

This video screening takes the spectators to wonderful “hidden worlds”, illustrated by artists and scientists who more and more often collaborate and share experiences with one another on the research of new expressive potentialities within specific mathematical processes and physical, optical, chemical and electro-magnetic phenomena.

By watching the audiovisual representation of the existing energetic and electromagnetic phenomena on the Sun’s surface and of current interferences generated from interaction of electromagnetic fields between the Sun and Earth, as possible instrument of aestheticization of the space phenomena by the Semiconductor duo (in works such as Black Rain), the passage to the audiovisual representation of chemical-physical-optical reactions of the Portable Palace duo (Evelina Domnitch & Dmitri Gelfand) is extraordinary short indeed. In their first work present in this exhibition, (Camera Lucida) they study the chemical-physical phenomena of “sonoluminescence”, while in their second one (10000 Peackcock Feathers in Foaming Acid) they analyze the potentialities of optical phenomena generated by investigating the laser light within the nanometric structures of foams. Moreover, the first work by Thorsten Fliesch present in the exhibition (Energie!) shows the scorches on photographic paper produced by an high potential energy flow of an electron beam contained in a cathode ray tube.

The number is an ever present concept, being the fundamental element of every mathematical and algebraic formula which involves not only a single energy phenomenon present in nature, but also a series of disturbing/superimposition phenomena, such as interferences, beats, accumulations, harmonies and other optical event, like Moirè’s (optical illusion created by geometrical sequences of interference phenomena), as shown by the purely glitch and software work by Carsten Nicolai (Spray)

The number, in its highest abstraction of key element for a fourth dimension representation , is still an important part of Thorsten Fleisch‘s video (Gestalt), a sort of recognition of the quaternion worlds (four-dimensional fractals) visualized in a three dimensional space through appropriate software. Yet maybe John Campbell‘s masterpiece (LI: The Patterns of Nature) is the work that mostly evidences the geometric structures spontaneously present in Nature, through a kind of magical and hypnotic audiovisual document, perfect sample of a deep critical conviction: contemporary audiovisual art, today more than in the past, has the technological instruments and the ethical duty to confront itself with the empirical world and the “natural” technologies within it. Technologies that should be collected, observed and manipulated by man, who has already given proof of his skill with light, sound, image and space.


Screening (total time 42’35”’)

– Semiconductor
Black Rain (2009, GB)
col., sound, 3’02”, HD Format: 16:9 widescreen

– Evelina Domnitch & Dmitri Gelfand
Camera Lucida:
Sonochemical Observatory (2006 – Rus, Bel)
col., sound, 8’57”

-Thorsten Fleisch
Energie! (2007, Ger)
col., sound, 5’18”

– John N. Campbell
Li: The Patterns of Nature (2007 – Usa)
col., sound 9’06”, original format: 16mm

– Evelina Domnitch & Dmitry Gelfand
10000 Peackcock Feathers in Foaming Acid (2009 Rus, Bel)
col., sound, 2’52”

– Alva Noto
Spray (2006, Ger)
col., sound, 8′

– Thorsten Fleisch
Gestalt (2003, Ger)
col., sound, 5’20”

“When the Eye Flickrs (Quando l’occhio trema)”
Screening curated by Claudia D’Alonzo for Digicult and Mario Gorni for Docva

Inspired by a 1989 film by Paolo Gioli with the same name, this screening reconstructs the historical and methodological path of the use of the Flickering technique, using a selection of works from the DOCVA archives, as well as from works of a number of authors connected to the Digicult international network.

The “flicker” is a technique applied to a number of art forms, from the experimental cinema on analog film, light installations and environments, as well as video analog and digital audiovisual. This technique is based on a specific perceptive phenomenon. Our perception of moving images normally happens with a 24 frames per second frequency.

If we decrease this frequency to between 6 to 18 frames per second, we create a visual blinking leading to a direct stimulation of the optic nerve and, thus, to a proto-vision where the visual rhythm becomes directly synchronized with our cerebral waves.

The flicker belongs to what Edmund Husserl defines as perceptive ambiguity, for its potentials to go beyond and offer a chance to overcome the habitual conventions that govern our knowledge of the real. This may be achieved through destabilizing—in some cases violently, or traumatically—perceptive common, almost addicted, habits.

Artists experiment with flickering using a phenomenological approach, through the anomalous stimulation of our perceptive apparatus, as well as through the structural analysis of the codes that compose the moving image.

Thanks to the collaboration with the Archive of DOCVA and Digicult, When the Eye Flickers (Quando l’occhio trema) is meant also as a moment of research, a way to conceive the archival material as a dynamic instrument through which to establish relations and exchanges, a point of departure to establish comparisons between the historical experiences of the audiovisual experimentation and the most contemporary developments.


– Claudio Ambrosini
Light solfeggio (Italia, 1977)
2’17”, b/w, Courtesy Archivio DOCVA

– Paolo Gioli
Quando l’occhio trema (Italia, 1989)
12′, b/w, Courtesy Paolo Gioli

– Kurt Hentschläger/Ulf Langheinrich (Granular Synthesis)
Form ( Austria, 2000)
3′, col., Courtesy Granular Synthesis

– Thorsten Fleisch
Superbitmapping (Germania, 2000)
2′ 3”, col., Courtesy Thorsten Fleisch

– Graw & Bockler
Because (Germania, 2002)
3’47”, col., Courtesy Archivio, DOCVA

– Scott Arford
Untitled for television (USA, 2003)
5′ 57”, col., Courtesy Scott Arford

– Alessandrà Arnò
Stars (Italia, 2003)
4′, b/n, Courtesy Archivio DOCVA

– Otolab
Vagina cosmica (Italia, 2009)
video: xo00, audio: _dies, , 4′ 50”, col., Courtesy of Otolab

“A Myriad of Vibrant Phenoema: The hidden worlds of audiovisual art-science”
Lecture by Marco Mancuso for Digicult

Between 1899 and 1904 the german philosopher and biologist Ernst Haeckel published a book of lithographic and autotype prints entitled Kunstformen der Natur (Art Forms of Nature), one of his best known works and a symbol of his zoological research and philosophy, centered on the observation of marine micro-organisms as well of various natural species and animals. The complete volume, consisting of over 100 lithographs, each accompanied by a short descriptive text, obtained a great success even among the non-specialist public and among some Art Nouveau artists, committed to find new models to be used in the nascent industrial design and in architecture.

From the first experiences on the field by Haeckel to theories of fractals and morphogenesis, dreams of genetic algorythms, studies on quaternions, perceptions of Moirè’s and optical effects, computational periodics achievements, recordings of electromagnetics phenomena, chemical-physical sponteneous reactions, cymatics observations on dynamics of sound waves and vibrations, it’s clear that Mother Nature is characterized at the root by a matrix of numbers and mathematical expressions involving a series of physical, optical, chemical-physical, electromagnetic and nanometric phenomena influencing its forms, species, colours, sounds and structures.

If science is considered an organic complex of knowledge obtained through a methodical procedure, capable of providing a precise description of the real aspect of things and the laws by which the phenomena happen, and if the rules governing such process are generally called “scientific method”, then the experimental observation of a natural event, the formulation of a general hypothesis about such event and the possibility of checking the hypothesis through subsequent observations become fundamental elements in modern scientific research.

What it is today recognized as “immersive art-science” is a form of creative expression meant to rise above the notion of art as abstract representation, in behalf of a multi-sensorial experience. The purpose of the this lecture which enrich and complete the “Hidden Worlds” screening, is to critically map those artists acting with a “discovery approach”, observing and recording, sharing experiences and ideas with scientists and science communities, working without the use of cinematographic or video or digital tecniques but obtaining the fluxus of sound and images only by natural and spontaneous scientific phenomena (physical, optical, chemical, mathemical and electro-magnetical). Hidden Worlds wants to create fascinating objects and also to invite the public to go beyond ordinary perception’s border. Immersivity awakens a synesthetic awareness, both in the mental and in the physical space. A myriad of vibrant phenomena, usually beyond the observer’s reach, are instead made reachable through an accurate psychophysical conditioning.

Video Lecture:

– Hans Jenny Cymatics Soundscapes (1967, Switzerland)
– Mary Ellen Bute Abstronic (Usa, 1954)
– John Whitney Permutations (USA, 1971)
– Semiconductor Magnetic Movies (USA, 2007)