Future Seasons Past
February 28 – April 18, 2015
536 West 22nd Street & 201 Chrystie Street, New York
Daisy Bell and Left Clavicle
September 7 – November 2, 2008
201 Chrystie Street
Museum Exhibitions & Projects
Museum of Fine Arts, ...
Jennifer Steinkamp: Mike Kelley Projection...
October 19 – 26, 2014
Jennifer Steinkamp: Judy Crook, 4
September 26, 2014 – January 18, 2015
Tacoma Art Museum
Shimmering Tree: A Projection by Jennifer ...
November 9, 2013 – January 26, 2014
Center for the Arts a...
Jennifer Steinkamp: Madame Curie
October 28 – December 1, 2013
Fabric Workshop and M...
Jennifer Steinkamp: The Death of the Moth
March 2, 2012 - Late Summer 2012
March 14 – June 29, 2008
Sundance Film Festiva...
New Frontier on Main, curated by Shari Fri...
January 18 – 25, 2008
The Gwangju Biennale ...
Jennifer Steinkamp - The River of No Retur...
September 10 – November 13, 2004
Rhizome Seven on Seven Conference Jennifer Steinkamp & Rana el Kaliouby
May 14 2016
Women Are Taking Over This Year's 'Seven on Seven' Conference
April 16 2016
The Los Angeles Times
July 15, 2014
February 24, 2014
South China Morning Post
February 13, 2014
The Houston Chronicle
June 21, 2012
December 1, 2011
San Diego City Beat
April 5, 2011
Wall Street Journal
January 20, 2011
September 11, 2010
September 10, 2010
September 7, 2010
August 31, 2010
March 31, 2010
Flavorpill's Daily Dose
January 28, 2009
Men.Style.com Jennifer's Flowers
September 5, 2008
The Moment: The New York Times blog The Insider | Jennifer Steinkamp
September 3, 2008
Art + Auction Making Noise
August 31, 2008
Los Angeles Times Jennifer Steinkamp dazzles at ACME
June 13, 2008
October 1, 2007
July 1, 2007
Art in America
March 1, 2007
January 2, 2007
New York Times
July 1, 2005
June 1, 2004
April 1, 2004
April 1, 2004
Art in America
December 1, 2003
February 1, 2003
January 1, 2003
Los Angeles Times
December 20, 2002
Los Angeles Times
March 3, 2000
October 1, 1998
August 1, 1997
A conversation with Jennifer Steinkamp, artist.
By Holly Willis
Los Angeles-based media artist Jennifer Steinkamp makes large scale light and sound installations composed of projections of computer-generated imagery. Entering a project that she has created is like walking into a virtual space, one creating the effect akin to being literally immersed within an image. Steinkamp's interest in light and projection began in a class taught by Gene Youngblood. He introduced Steinkamp to the work of animators like Ed Emshwiller and Oskar Fischinger, and she was completely swept away. She began making her own films, and then began working with computers. She studied at CalArts and Art Center, as well as on the job at various companies where she had access to high-end tools. She eventually returned to Art Center to teach, and has to date produced a number of exceptional installations and performances. U2 recently hired Steinkamp to produce images for a concert tour, and on October 9, Steinkamp's newest installation, titled The TV Room, will open at the Santa Monica Museum of Art.
Holly Willis: What would you say you are doing when you're working with light?
Jennifer Steinkamp: Basically, I use light to dematerialize architecture. I do this by placing an illusionistic space inside of a real space. The imagery comes from the computer, I image the geometric space of the computer and remap it into architecture with projection, this creates an in-between space, a space between the computer and the real. In this process, the architecture has been transformed into a hybrid by projected imagery. As a result an intriguing phenomenon occurs, light which is not physical creates a physicality.
Willis: Would you say you are influenced by anyone in regard to ideas about light?
Steinkamp: In painting there is a lot of discussion about the representation of light. I recall studying the Impressionists and how some of the artists emphasized light over form or subject. Certain ideas capture your fancy, and I've always been intrigued by the idea of representing light because it is not corporeal.
Willis: Can you talk about how people become part of the projects? It's almost as though you're immersed in the image itself.
Steinkamp: When I'm working on a project I begin with the space. With "Smoke Screen," 1995, there was this ridiculous pole in the middle of the room, I didn't want light to hit it, so I placed the projectors off to the side at extreme angles, avoiding the pole. When you project at an angle, the image distorts, I compensate for the distortions with the computer. There were two projections from angles, when a person stepped in front of one projector, the other projector filled in their shadow, so in a way the viewer became interlaced in the work. I have used this technique many times, where the viewer's shadow becomes part of the image. The projectors are often placed low so the viewer has no choice but to become part of the work. Children immediately understand that they are expected to play in the projection. Humor and play are important aspects of the art, these are ways of involving the viewer as part of the work. As the viewer internalizes the image in her mind, she also experiences it physically in real space as she sees her shadow.
Willis: Do you map all of this out ahead of time?
Steinkamp: I create a virtual diagram of the installation space on the computer, or a simulation of what it will be like. I can calculate where to place the projectors and predict projection distortions using the computer. Fortunately there are tools in the software that work well for calculating projections. Obviously, reality is different than virtual reality, but I can get a pretty good idea of what the installation will be like.
Willis: What are some of the things you actually do working on the computer?
Steinkamp: I play with various software tools and try to create a lifelike motion -- a motion that works, 'lifelike' is the closest term that describes the feeling I am after. Sometimes I feel at a loss to describe what the animation can do best, I wish more people theorized motion, people like Gilles Deleuze, who's philosophical discussions of movement and time-image through cinema have influenced me deeply. In my piece, "A Sailor's Life Is a Life for Me," 1998, I use a tool called a warp. The warp is a primitive shape, in this case a sphere which sculpts the surface, I started with a flat plane. I positioned five or six warps bobbing along, creating waves. I generated eight wave strips reflecting different colors, I then cut and pasted the strips together into another scene. It's sort of a 2-D, 3-D effect because it's not really representing a 3-D space. It's more of a collage. The image is a collage and the multiple projections are collaged throughout the space. It's a piece that can be presented in many different ways depending on where it's shown.
So, in a way, the software company is a collaborator, I try out many different tools. One of the ideas I consistently experiment with is manipulating the Cartesian coordinates that make up 3-D graphics, I play with them in different ways, distorting them, messing them up, and basically changing the dimensions so that I'm no longer limited to a 3-D space. When you fool around with Cartesian coordinates this allows you to reconsider the relationship between the viewer and the subject. Subject and object are no longer a singular binary relationship.
Willis: What do you like about working digitally?
Steinkamp: Well, I've tried painting -- it drives me crazy because I can't control the paint to my satisfaction. With a computer you can't control the image necessarily, but you can repeat the process until you get what you like -- there is not as much precision as you would think with the tools I use. You can run a simulation, let it calculate, and see what you end up with. If you don't like it, you change it, and so on. With "Sailors...," I received many comments about it seeming painterly or more hand done. I thought that was interesting because I didn't set out to do that, the hand-made quality seems to be antithetical to people's conception of computer imagery.
Willis: How interested are you in exploring new technologies like virtual reality?
Steinkamp: Well in a way my work constitutes virtual reality but it's not produced in real time. Eventually there will be more computers available that can generate complex imagery in real time. Brian Eno talks about and creates generative art which is a media art form where new images are constantly created; it's never the same, much like some of his music. I find this idea thoroughly intriguing, the animation has a life of its own.
Willis: Where do you see your own work taking you?
Steinkamp: Lately, I've been approached by architects like Stephen Perrella at Columbia University, who are interested in similar ideas, Perrella calls this hypersurface architecture.
Willis: What's that?
Steinkamp: Hypersurface architecture is what I do, really. One example would be to take the face of a static building and re-surface it with moving images. It can be an amazing experience to see a building pulsate as if this solid inanimate object could move. Rather than making a building come to life, it is more a transformation, it is a between-state, a re-dimentionalization of something already existing in space.
It is the future -- that's what our cityscapes will look like soon. It's definitely the next wave for architecture, the non-static meeting between cyberspace and real space.