Boundary Functions, Scott Snibbe, 1998


We think of personal space as something that belongs entirely to ourselves. However, Boundary Functions shows us that personal space exists only in relation to others and changes without our control.

Boundary Functions is a set of lines projected from overhead onto the floor, dividing people in the gallery from one another. When there is one person on its floor, there is no response. When two are present, a single line cuts between them bisecting the floor and dynamically changing as they move. With more than two people, the floor divides into cellular regions, each with the quality that all space within it is closer to the person inside than any one else.

The regions surrounding each person are referred to as Voronoi diagrams. These diagrams are widely used in diverse fields and spontaneously occur at all scales of nature. In anthropology and geography they describe patterns of human settlement; in biology, the patterns of animal dominance and plant competition; in chemistry the packing of atoms into crystals; in astronomy the influence of gravity on stars; in marketing the strategic placement of chain stores; in robotics path planning; and in computer science the solution to closest-point problems. The diagrams represent as strong a connection between mathematics and nature as the constants e or pi.

By projecting the diagram, the invisible relationships between individuals and the space between them become visible and dynamic. The intangible notion of personal space and the line that always exists between you and another becomes concrete. The installation doesn’t function at all with one person, as it requires a physical relationship to someone else. In this way Boundary Functions is a reversal of the lonely self-reflection of virtual reality, or the frustration of virtual communities: here is a virtual space that can only exist with more than one person, in physical space.

The title, Boundary Functions, refers to Theodore Kaczynski’s 1967 University of Michigan PhD thesis. Better known as the Unabomber, Kaczynski is a pathological example of the conflict between the individual and society: engaging with an imperfect world versus an individual solitude uncompromised by the presence of others. The thesis itself is an example of the implicit antisocial quality of some scientific discourse, mired in language and symbols that are impenetrable to the vast majority of society. In this installation, a mathematical abstraction is made instantly knowable by dynamic visual representation. (Scott Snibbe)

Rain Room, 2012

Rain Room, Random International, 2012

Interactive Plant Growing, 1992

Christa Sommerer & Laurent Mignonneau, Interactive Plant Growing, 1992

Conceptual and aesthetic aspects:

“The rate of growth deserves to be studied as a necessary preliminary to the theoretical study of form, and organic form itself is found, mathematically speaking, to be a function of time. (….) We might call the form of an organism an event in space-time, and not merely a configuration in space.” (D´Arcy Thompson,On Growth and Form, Cambridge University Press,1942.)

“Interactive Plant Growing” is an installation, which deals with the principle of the growth of virtual plant organisms and their change and modification in real time in the 3-dimensional virtual space of a computer. These modifications of predefined “artificially living plant organisms” are mainly based on the principle of development and evolution in time. The artificial growing of program – based plants is an expression of the desire to discover the principle of life, which is always defined by the transformations and morphogenesis of certain organisms.

Interactive Plant Growing connects the real time growing of virtual plants in the 3 – dimensional space of the computer to real living plants, which can be touched or approached by human viewers.differentiation. (Christa Sommerer & Laurent Mignonneau)

The Value of Art, 2010

Christa Sommerer & Laurent Mignonneau, The Value of Art, 2010

The Value of Art are interactive paintings dealing with the economy of attention and value creation in the art world. When we look at prices of artworks at auctions, they often seem incomprehensible. Competing art collectors betting against each other can create skyrocketing values for art works. Relevance and attention in terms of art history, social and critical discourse are important components for becoming a desired masterpiece with high monetary value.

The Value of Art is a series of interactive experiments dealing with the value of art in a conceptual and pragmatic way. The Value of Art is a critical reflection on the economy of attention, the relationship between artist, artwork and audience, and the question of monetary and ideological value of the artists and audiences time and dedication. (Christa Sommerer & Laurent Mignonneau)

Tape Recorders, 2011

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Tape Recorders, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, Australia, 2011

Rows of motorised measuring tapes record the amount of time that visitors stay in the installation. As a computerised tracking system detects the presence of a person, the closest measuring tape starts to project upwards. When the tape reaches around 3 meters high it crashes and recoils back.
Each hour, the system prints the total number of minutes spent by the sum of all visitors. Commissioned by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney