07 March, 2008
Netherlands Media Art Institute
On our free day in Amsterdam, thinking we were finding the Amsterdam mapping project exhibit, we stumbled into the Media Art Institute. Little did we know, it was not the right place. I was not expecting what we did find. Enter four girls getting into the exhibit thirty five minutes before they close so we are the only people there. We pay the two-fifty euro find some stairs that do not look like they lead to anywhere that we should be going and find the exhibit floor. First off this floor slash building looks like it could be some poorly lit insane asylum, and second the hall is full of closed doors or black curtains from behind which strange and creepy noises are emitted. Needless to say we were a little creeped out. One of the exhibit spaces had horrible loud noises coming from within the room, of which you were already in a smaller dark room and had to find the black curtains you could not see opening into another dark room having no clue what was on the other side. It was straight out of a bad horror film. But we got through the seven exhibits, works dealing with the theme of the cinematic experience. Rather than regarding the medium as a manner of telling a story, the works are experiences that the spectator must undergo. Its the physical and psychological effect of images and sound on the senses and how we construct meaningful and emotional experiences from audio-visual sensory information. We didn't really have enough time there to take it all in and understand the meanings, but after the initial shock of the place not being at all what we were expecting and a little scary, there were some cool things to see. The most interesting exhibit was "probe." Taking the idea of the cinema projection screen as a window giving access to a trip through space and time, it was an interactive installation in which the relationship between the viewer and the screen is central. The position of the viewer within the room determines the creation of generative sound and image that physically take the viewer on an audiovisual trip. The closer or farther back you got from the screen and your position from right to left in the room zoomed and changed the image on the screen, reacting to your movements. Totally not what we were trying to find, but an interesting experience nonetheless.