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The Life of a Controversial Philosopher Inspires New Media Artist David Clark
HALIFAX.- Media Arts Professor David Clark, BFA ‘85 has released a net.art work called: 88 Constellations for Wittgenstein (to be played with the Left Hand). The interactive, animated, feature-length film is a complex and non-linear work created for the internet. The interactive piece revolves around the life of the Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889 – 1951).

Best known for his contributions to the twentieth century's principal philosophical movements: the Vienna Circle and Ordinary language philosophy, Wittgenstien is one of the most curious and intriguing figures in modern philosophy. Born into one of the richest families in Europe, he also attended high school with Adolf Hitler which has provoked much speculation that Wittgenstein was one of the first Jews Hitler ever encountered. The preeminent philosopher, Bertrand Russell considered Wittgenstien a genius. Rising to cult-like status at Cambridge University, he preferred to live for long periods in exile in Norway and Ireland where he would wrestle with philosophical questions. Three of his brothers committed suicide and yet another brother, Paul, became well known as a pianist even after he lost his right arm in the First World War.

88 Constellations for Wittgenstein is a lyrical, poetic, and often playful exploration of its subject. It weaves together Wittgenstein’s tersely poetic philosophical writing with threads and observations about our contemporary digital culture. The piece uses collage as its central sensibility and is meant to reflect the experience of browsing the internet. The audience moves from topic to topic through stories of strange coincidences and correspondences that bind this experimental narrative together. The work is tied to the 88 constellations of the night sky that serve as a system of navigation through the many paths of complex work.

88 Constellations for Wittgenstein was the opening work at the 404 Festival of Electronic Art in Trieste, Italy last summer and has recently been included in exhibitions and festivals in Finland, Serbia, The Canary Islands, New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, Sao Paulo, and Girona, Spain. David Clark is now preparing for an exhibition in Montreal and an upcoming residency in Halifax at the Centre for Art Tapes.

Professor Clark recently received a 2008 Nova Scotia Arts and Culture Established Artist Recognition Award. The prize of $5000 is awarded to recognize artists who have established their careers in Nova Scotia.

Clark also collaborated on a non-linear film called ‘Meanwhile’ created in 2006 with the new media collective ‘computer.says.no’ at the Canadian Film Centre, recently won the Reflet d’Or for best interactive multimedia fiction at the 2008 CINEMA TOUS ECRANS, 14e Festival International du Film in Geneva Switzerland. The jury said: “The prize is awarded to a piece of work that put the multimedia feature in the center of its conception and thus allows to develop a new narrative experience. This experience wanders from the inflexibility of cinematic narration and of the interactive scenario of video games.”

Professor Clark has made significant contributions to NSCAD University’s Film Program since its inception. Clark’s innovative 2002 project A is for Apple, garnered considerable international attention, featured at over 50 festivals and venues around the world. His work has won numerous awards including the ‘Best in Show’ at the 2003 SXSW Interactive Festival in Austen, Texas; First Prize at the FILE 2002 Festival in Sao Paulo, Brazil; as well as invitations to the prestigious Sundance Film Festival, the SIGGRAPH Festival, and the American Museum of the Moving Image. A is for Apple remains a popular example of “net.art” and is included in many academic curriculums on new media and interactive art.

88 Constellations for Wittgenstein draws on the talents of a number of Halifax artists including the voice of Halifax actor Neil Thompson and the programming of local media artist Nick Rudnicki, BFA ‘05. The work was produced in Halifax as well as at residencies in Quebec, Toronto, Vancouver, and Bergen, Norway.

A blog of the project can be seen at: http://www.88constellations.net/blog/ and David Clark’s previous work can be seen at: http://www.chemicalpictures.net/ and http://www.aisforapple.net/.




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