Article categories: ANAT Member ProfileIssue 57
March 17th, 2010

Adam Nash is a performance artist exploring 3-D multi-user virtual space as a live performance medium. He teaches multimedia at RMIT, Melbourne; and is a writer/reviewer for Digital Media World Magazine.

How would you define yourself as an artist – performer, sound designer, new media artist – a hybrid of these? Or would you describe yourself as an artist-theoretician? I’m thinking here of your interest in theory and how that shapes your work.

Adam: I thing of myself as all of these – my background is in live performance, as well as music and sound composition and production. I see New Media, particularly when it is networked, as the natural evolution and confluence of previous forms, allowing artists to experiment more completely with form, using principles and approaches from across disciplines. Specifically, I first looked at real time networked 3D in 1996 as a music/sound composition technique, but quickly realised the potential offered when sound is simply another object in 3D space just as vision is.

I think of myself as an artist, and am chiefly focused on practice, but of course when the network is the medium, theory and practice are intertwined. I am very interested in theory and try to remain actively engaged with current thinking. I like the real time nature of the current feedback loop between theory and practice on the network, and I try and let it crystallise my approach.

Can you briefly describe some of the key works you have produced in your career?

I was a performer, composer and coder in The Men Who Knew Too Much from 1994 – 2002. Many works were produced during that time, but of key interest was Virtual Humanoids (Melbourne Planetarium 2000, GammaSpace Melbourne 2001, Digital Summer UK, 2002).

As a solo artist, in 2003 I produced Memory Plains Returning, my first experiment in live multi-user 3D space performance using abstract sonified avatars, presented online and across multiple venues in UK and Australia, as part of Lab3D. A single version of Memory Plains Returning was presented as part of FILE WebArt 2003 in Brazil. I’ve also produced some less ambitious web-based projects such as in3face, Old Souls Knew and Far South East of the Soul. These have been part of various new media festivals around the world.

What are you currently working on – and is this part of a clear trajectory as far as your interests go?  That is, can you see any key themes emerging in your practice?

I’ve just presented Scorched Happiness, a live multi-user 3D performance based on the Toccata and Fugue for the Foreigner by Julia Kristeva, at ACMI. I’m keep to keep working on Scorched Happiness as a purely online event, as I feel that the intention becomes a little blurred when there is a physical manifestation to the performance and certain inevitable expectations prevent the performance from achieving its full potential.

I’m also in planning stages for two different projects, both using realtime 3D with strong audio components. One, provisionally entitled The Dead Lover, will be looking at AI to inform bots as performers within a multi-user space. The other will be looking at subverting the customary idea of 3D-for-information-visulisation, by using data as the raw material for sonified geometry. I want to investigate how the shape of society’s data might resemble the shape of our hopes and fears.

On a smaller scale, I’m continuously producing small sonified 3D spaces. These are roughly analogous to a ‘song’ in terms of speed of production and scope of ambition – small pieces made mainly for my own amusement. One such piece was recently commissioned by Liquid Architecture 2004.

The key theme across my work, I think, is the network as a medium for live performance, the examination of what constitutes “live performance” in the digital networked world. I am particularly, but not exclusively, interested in multi-user realtime 3D space in this regard.

Lisa Gye

Lisa Gye is a lecturer in Media and Communication at Swinburne University in Melbourne.  She coordinates the graduate programs in Applied Media and teaches, amongst other things, electronic writing.

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