Mark Napier, Empire
October 22–Dec 3, 2005
MARK NAPIER, EMPIRE
October 22, 2005 – December 3, 2005
New media art pioneer Mark Napier returns to bitforms gallery with a solo exhibition of new, interactive artworks, running from October 22 through November 26. Empire, a series of interactive installations, explores power in a post-national world through an unlikely merger of monumental architecture and software. Napier’s home-grown software puts a scale model of the Empire State Building in a three-dimensional environment. Both fragile and unbreakable, the virtual monument can be destroyed and re-created in a moment.
“I’m a little obsessed with the Empire State building.” Napier says. “I love the beauty of the building, but I’m also struck by how prominent it is since the towers collapsed. I see it as a symbol of power, both economic and cultural. Empire is about a virtual monument, my personal take on the real building.”
In this computer-generated space, a ghostly scale model of the Empire State building wobbles, bends, and tilts. Using a mouse, the viewer can lift, throw, bounce, squeeze, bend, and break the building. Every motion of the building leaves a trail behind. Like thin wisps of paint, these traces coalesce as smoky backdrops starkly contrasting with the building’s facade. With programming techniques borrowed from high-end computer games, Napier creates a unique environment and a rich visual vocabulary. Napier uses the Java programming language and OpenGL to create dynamic high-resolution graphics. OpenGL, a graphics standard that provides access to the video hardware on computers, drives the graphics for many games such as Doom3 and Half-Life.
Mark Napier, a painter turned digital artist, is a pioneer in the use of the web and computer as a space for making and showing art. His Internet artwork has appeared in the Whitney Biennial, the Pompidou, ZKM, and at Ars Electronica. In 2002 the Guggenheim Museum acquired “net.flag”, making it the first web-based artwork to be acquired by a major museum. Many of Napier’s artworks are publicly available at his online studio: www.potatoland.org.