On Wednesday, Nov. 10, the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts hosted “Through a Different Lens: Innovation Lab Lecture Series.” At this event, renowned intermedia visual artist Claudia Hart gave her lecture titled, “The Real Fake”. In her speech, she discussed the stages of her career up to her present-day, her experimental artworks and the future of art in terms of its relationship to technology. 

Hart began her artistic career in Europe in the mid ‘90s as a part of a generation of artists concerned with identity and representation. She was initially interested in the art of the 18th and 19th centuries. Her journey as an intermedia artist concerned with animation, however, began in 1995, in Berlin, when she was given a free ticket to see a pre-release showing of the Pixar animated feature film, “Toy Story”. 

Hart was fascinated by how the animation seemed to be the intersection of a renaissance painting and a photograph, how animated characters seemed real and cast shadows in their environment and the characters seemed to surpass two-dimensionality. Becoming obsessed with simulated art, and believing that it would bring about the end of photography, she moved back to the United States, where the technology to create special effects were available and began her journey working with “computer-driven production machines”  to create art. A significant metamorphosis in Hart’s artistic career occurred when she was commissioned to create a piece called “The Dolls”. This series of videos began as a six-person ballet and soon became a complex, immersive work of projections that would come to exemplify Hart’s style. 

After speaking of her influences and the effect of the technology she uses, Hart presented some of her artworks, making it so all could see and understand how they both culminated together in her beautiful, mesmeric visuals. Of her works that she presented, the first was “The Dolls,” which was constructed solely out of simulation technology. It was also taken from the projection mapping of an entire room, and that of art studio models, which created a hypnotic, entrancing visual that was both of this world, and not. Its shape and depth were comprehensible to the eye and were certainly synthetic. However, the work could not help but radiate a physical experience to the eyes, as if the visual was trapped between the spiritual and the real world. And as Hart spoke of in her presentation, this effect was done consciously and with intent. 

Hart self-describes herself as a “trance artist” in the lecture, relying upon algorithmic patterns in order to create a hypnotizing effect in her works. She seeks to create art that is ‘liminal,’ which is something that is between the real and the spirit world: between a simulation and reality. As with all properly constructed works of art, whether it be a poem, sculpture, painting or photograph, they all seem to have a radiance behind them or inside of them which makes them much more significant than just words or an appealing visual. 

All beautiful works of art, of which the classification is decided in the eyes of the beholder, seem to radiate divinity, radiate the spiritual world. Claudia Hart is pushing the boundaries of this aspect of art by seeking to create a space of liminality. In this concept, Hart is experimenting, not only with the forms of art but with the subtext of its beauty.

With the invention of Virtual Reality, and the development of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hart was able to adapt and apply her fascination with liminality even further with the creation of her ‘Social VR Spaces’. In this work, those that view her piece are able to experience and move around her constructed simulations. In these spaces, friends of hers and critics were able to virtually gather together and socialize, as though they were living fully in a simulated world; a world where you live in yet another work of art. 

She also shared in the lecture that as a “digital artist married to the physical,” Hart is excited for the future of simulated constructions, especially with the invention of NFT’s (Non-Fungible Tokens). These act as a sort of ‘digital copyright,’ melding digital property with private property and making it so that digital works of art can finally be singular, and can create a closer tie between art and the artist in the digital world. 

Hart is currently a professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where she teaches one of the only courses for art students that is dedicated solely to the application of simulation technologies in students’ work. The course is titled “Experimental 3-D”. Hart’s lecture was recorded and is available for all to view on the ‘Quick Center for the Arts’ website under the ‘Quicklive Archive’ section at the bottom of the homepage. The next event hosted by the Quick Center, as part of the Inspired Writers’ Series, will be a lecture presented by Megha Majumdar, titled “Politics and Power” on Thursday, Nov, 18 at 7:30 p.m. The event is free to attend and will be held virtually.

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