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Mexican Tricolor Popsicle by rosalieyu on Sketchfab

"In Real Life" is an exhibition of work made by artists concerned with the translation of the physical into the virtual and back again. They are invested in the production of art works and experiences to produce outcomes that probe and examine our relationship to the real and how we perceive it to be.

Christopher Meerdo

Christopher Meerdo, Displaced Desire - White Hot (Medical Center), 2017

While the pursuit and accordant unraveling of artifice is nothing new the current anxiety surrounding "fake news" and the malaise around what is presented to us as real opens up fertile ground to mine new modes of representation.

Christopher Meerdo

Christopher Meerdo, Displaced Desire - White Hot (Medical Center), 2017

Volumetric image capture and reproduction represents an evolutionary moment for photography and other types of technical image making mediums. One that is tied inextricably to the history of the mechanical image but also points to many possible new futures in terms of interaction, and simulation. Central to this shift in types of representation is a set of technologies commonly referred to as 3D scanning.

Nick Bontrager

Nick Bontrager, 2018

Historically there are many precedents for technical translations of the real into mechanical or digital representations. Leon Battista Alberti's De Statua published after 1443 describes a system of plotting or triangulating points so that the measurements of a sculpture or object might be recorded and reproduced at another place and time.

Assaf Evron

Assaf Evron, The Sea Was Smooth, 2016

Fast forward to the mid- nineteenth century and a process known as "Photosculpture" was patented by Francois Willeme a French sculptor and entrepreneur. His method was to take 50 photographs at precisely the same moment and to use these images to record the profile or silhouette of the subject. These profiles were then carefully cut from wooden boards and arranged around a central axis to produce a complete form in 360°.

At around the same time that Willeme was perfecting his method of reproducing form based on profiles and silhouettes German architect Albrecht Meydenbauer invented photogrammetry initially conceiving of the technology as a way to take accurate measurements of a building from photographic images. This idea would later by combined with stereoscopic algorithms to produce a method for accurately reconstructing objects and scenes.

Assaf Evron

Assaf Evron, The Sea Was Smooth, 2016

Contemporary methods of 3D scanning are varied. A common approach is "digital photogrammetry" whereby a data set of photographs from an object or scene is used to create 3D representations of it. Digital photogrammetry is often used in computer games and media productions to create lifelike representations of landscapes, buildings and interior spaces. Another approach is known as structured light.

Tom Burtonwood

Tom Burtonwood, Surface Detail (daybreak), 2018

This type of scanning is especially important to virtual reality systems and video game interfaces as the hardware can accurately track the position of the person in the physical and translate that to the simulation they are interacting with. In this fashion the distance between the real and virtual collapses significantly as a result of this technology.

Nick Bontrager

Nick Bontrager, 2018

Quietly and without great fanfare we are seeing image, object and time based media production collapse into singular streams of productive behavior. Scenes and surfaces are being generated from technical apparatus and fabricated without intervention from the hand of the artist.

Burton Isenstein

Burton Isenstein, 2018

It is within this context that a new form of representation is evolving, a form of volumetric photography, that exists in many different versions congruently – as image, as form, as experience, as data, as transmission, all at once.

Rosalie Yu

Rosalie Yu, Ritual of Habits, 2016 - present

List of Artists websites

Aimee Beaubien

Aimée Beaubien, 2018

"In Real Life" is curated / organized by Tom Burtonwood. Thank you to Maggie Meiners and Justine Bianco of Platform 904 in Evanston for graciously hosting the exhibition.

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