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Animated geometric shapes and colors in a video installation on the history of the universe

by Maggie York-Worth
on 20 April 2010

The video exhibit "Ouroboros" at ISE Cultural Foundation explores the creation and history of the universe, using the iconic image of a snake eating itself as center to the work. The piece consists of six projections in 3-D, using geometric shapes and imagery to transform the space.

This compellingly unique mix of science and art fits the talents of Ourobos' creators exactly. Renaissance man Ali Hossaini, and video artists/programmers Blake Shaw and Bruno Levy of Sweatshoppe, collaborated on the piece. Ourobos combined Hossaini's "investigations into the psychology of vision" and Sweatshoppe's software and tech know-how.

In an interview with the artists, they discussed the project.

What's Ouroboros about?

Ali: It was an ode to the history of the universe in three layers: the physical, the biological and the psychological. The material world, the life world and the cultural world. I did about 30,000 into different files, just arranged them sequentially. And then we talked about what would work where.

Bruno: When we came down to the gallery, we realized there's more of a story that can be told. We had been doing this basic geometry and these shapes for awhile. And what we really liked about them was they had this energy, and this thing where you look at them and you become entranced.

How did you meet?

Blake: We started trying to figure out a way to create 3-D video in real time about a year ago, writing a piece of software that allowed us to create anaglyph video, which is like the red and blue glasses. But we quickly realized that that effect is old and outdated, and it also gives you a headache quickly. So we started working with ChromaDepth. Right about the time that we finished the software, we were doing a performance at Jonathan LeVine Gallery. And it was an event that Ali was producing for the Metropolis Art Prize. Instantly when he saw our effect he went, "Oh man, that's awesome!"

Ali: It was pure chance, actually, because I was producing this art competition and the awards were going to be given at the Jonathan LeVine gallery. And I walked in when they were setting up. I'd been wanting to do 3-D for this concept of Ouroboros, which was a history of the universe told through juxtaposed images, and I'd worked in 3-D before. When I saw what they did, it just seemed so on target for what I wanted to do and I think their work is really expressive and it's a really powerful aesthetic. I'd never seen anything like it before.

What led you to combine images and geometry?

Bruno: we just have these really simple geometric shapes that are being animated through space, or through depth, and they're connecting and recreating other shapes when they cross. We basically have these three different layers that are looping with different start and end points. So they're kind of looping on top of another on top of another and creating different shapes. And when they cross, they create different colors.

We've been really into mandalas and yantras and all these symbols or these machines that are meant to be these geometric shapes that you look at that elevate your consciousness. But we would almost rejuvenate them or recreate them using this psychedelic, technology driven 3-D media. And try to bring them to life.

Blake: We're looking at simple geometry as the atomic unit. And we're moving from simple geometry to more complex geometry. And then from complex geometry to representational imagery. And we're also trying to address the higher experience of the cosmos. Considering we only can understand the world from our immediate human perspective, we're trying to break you free of that and open your consciousness to greater dimensions of reality.


Ouroboros runs through 30 April 2010. Read more of the interview after the jump.

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