Imagine that hypothetical event when artificial intelligence becomes self-aware and self- improving. South Florida-born artist Ivan Toth Depeña has seemingly pondered that moment and woven its narrative into his latest project,. one that fuses art and science, reality and virtual reality.
In Lapse, Depeña six weaves together publicly accessible murals, a sculpture in Aventura, an installation in the Miami Design District, a walking prose experience at Museum Park and a musical composition aboard MetroMover, then ties them up with a technological bow that takes the experience to a Trekkie dimension.
Or in layman’s terms, a couple of wall paintings, a sculpture, a walking-tour recording and something to tickle the ears while riding the downtown’s elevated public transportation, right?
That simplified explanation misses both the science and science fiction aspect of Lapse.
Overlay each of the works with the Lapse mobile app downloaded to smart phone or tablet, and the art blooms to life with augmented reality.
The multi-location installation is what transpired when Depena, who has a Harvard Master’s Degree in architecture, mixed his artistic talents with his love for science fiction. The work was commissioned by the Knight Foundation, Locust Projects and the Miami-Dade County Art in Public Places program.
“The interest has been there for quite a long time,” Depena says from his home in North Carolina over, of course, a FaceTime connection. “I’m not a technology native. But I am an early adopter.
“I’ve seen lots of transition happen in my career where initially I started putting things in my sketch book, saying, ‘What would happen if we could sense motion across a room using analog cameras to do that?’ Now we have sensors and things can actually take 3D scans in real time.
“There are situations now that only could have been imagined in the past. Now they’re coming to light and being physically produced.”
Depena uses words such as “binary,” “metamorphosis,” “fusion,” and “time and space” when he discusses his work. The result combines that which can be seen, felt, heard and touched in reality and transforms them via the downloadable app, created by Depeña in conjunction with of The Heavy Projects, a software engineering firm based in Southern California.
For instance, when the murals — known as The Visions — are combined with the app, virtual layers appear over murals painted at the Miami-Dade Public Library’s Cultural Plaza façade and at Locust Projects’ south wall in the Miami Design District.
The Sounds becomes an interactive musical composition of multi-sensory sonic landscapes that all differ one from the other as the listener rides Metromover’s Omni Loop.
“The Writing” at Museum Park is a series of excerpts from a fictional notebook whose appearance is triggered when when the user approaches specific GPS coordinates.
Depena is reluctant to say it, but he is partial to The Moment, which takes up most of the exhibition floor at Locust Projects on North Miami Avenue. (In a moment of ultra reality, the app was delayed, and became available only the day before The Moment closes on June 4.)
The exhibit is shaped in the archetype of a suburban home which is seemingly cut in half. The installation illustrates “the moment” a biological being breaks through to an alternate augmented reality dimension.
“The sculpture itself was always intended to be a pseudo representation, almost a stage set.” The keys, he says, is to “suspend disbelief for what is a moment of transfusion and metamorphosis where a computer embeds itself inside a human’s biology.”
If science rather than science fiction is more to one’s taste, then “The Sculpture” outside the public library in Aventura might be the site see – assuming only one can be visited.
The sculpture, created by Depena for a prior Miami-Dade Art in Public Places commission, was designed using wind data from Hurricane Wilma, which destroyed the previous building on site.
Add the Lapse app to it and the thing comes to life as if moved, and sometimes buffeted, by those long gone Wilma winds.
“I wanted to see if there was a way to use some of the wind data that had been gathered by the airport towers at the two airports to define the form of the piece.” Depena said. “I wanted to visualize the natural phenomenon.
“The forms you’re looking at are the wind speed, their duration and direction over a 24 hour period. The lights are controlled by the wind because there is a real-time wind sensor on the roof. At night when the wind kicks up, one can actually see the warmer colors kick up as well.
“I imagined it being nice but I didn’t imagine it being that nice.”
“The Visions”: Use the app to view large painted trigger images that resemble pixels painted on the wall. Hold your device’s camera up to the trigger to reveal the virtual layers, designed by Depeña. Exterior wall of Locust Projects, 3852 North Miami Avenue; and on the Cultural Plaza façade of Miami-Dade Public Library, 101 Flagler Street; use the app to find other downtown locations.
“The Collective”: With the Lapse app, explore small visual components in random locations throughout Miami. Contributing artists include Alan Gutierrez, Brian Butler, Dana Donaty, Jim Drain, Justin H. Long, Kelley Johnson, Kevin Arrow, Barron Sherer, Domingo Castilo, Moira Holohan, Wendy Wischer, John F. Simon Jr, Nathan Selikoff, Jillian Mayer, John Bailly, Natalia Bailly, Caleb Saul, Nick Bloomberg, Matthew Steele, Isaac Payne, Stephen Hayes and Todd Stewart.
“The Sounds”: An interactive musical composition for users traveling on MetroMover’s Omni Loop. triggered by GPS locations at stations. Produced in collaboration Brad Laner.
“The Writings”: A virtual walk-through prose experience in downtown Miami’s Museum Park in downtown Miami, 1075 Biscayne Boulevard. Created in coordination with Miami-artist Jillian Mayer.
“The Sculpture”: Augmented experience activated through Arc, a public art sculpture in Aventura, designed using the wind data from Hurricane Wilma, which destroyed the previous library that existed on the site.
“The Moment”: Site-specific multi-media installation at Locust Projects in the Miami Design District, 3852 N. Miami Avenue. Tuesday – Saturday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. through June 6. www.locustprojects.org