computational thinking, carnegie mellon
Sponsored by
microsoft research
  Please note: as of February 2013, this site is no longer being actively maintained or updated.  
  Seminar series organized by Roger Dannenberg  
Golan Levin, Associate Professor of Electronic Time-Based Art,
Carnegie Mellon University

Audiovision, Abstract Communication, Interactive Art
September 11, 3305 Newell-Simon Hall 4:00 p.m.
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In my artistic process, I devise new forms of interactive media in order to explore novel conduits for non-verbal expression and communication. I then employ these systems in installations and performances which strive to be educational, whimsical, and sublime. Writing custom software is simply my own attempt to reclaim computation as a personal medium of expression. As my systems are designed to be open-ended, I cannot predict what will transpire between visitor and machine. This unknowability is a core condition and motivation for my experimental art-research. My recent projects have explored the gestures of the hand and voice; in my new work, I now turn to the gestures of the eye, with the aim of creating engrossing, uncanny and provocative interactions structured by gaze.

My research is motivated by an interest in the medium of response, and in the conditions that enable people to experience "flow", or sustained creative feedback with reactive systems. I am drawn to the revelatory potential of information visualization – whether brought to bear on a single participant, the world of data we inhabit, or the formal aspects of mediated communication itself. And I am fascinated by how abstraction can connect us to a reality beyond language, and the ways in which our gestures and traces, thus abstracted, can reveal our unique signatures in space and time.


Golan Levin develops artifacts and events which explore supple new modes of reactive expression. His work focuses on the design of systems for the creation, manipulation and performance of simultaneous image and sound, as part of a more general inquiry into the formal language of interactivity, and of nonverbal communications protocols in cybernetic systems. Through performances, digital artifacts, and virtual environments, often created with a variety of collaborators, Levin applies creative twists to digital technologies that highlight our relationship with machines, make visible our ways of interacting with each other, and explore the intersection of abstract communication and interactivity.Levin has exhibited widely in Europe, America and Asia.

Levin's work combines equal measures of the whimsical, the provocative, and the sublime in a wide variety of online, installation and performance media. He is known for the conception and creation of Dialtones: A Telesymphony [2001], a concert whose sounds are wholly performed through the carefully choreographed dialing and ringing of the audience's own mobile phones, and for interactive information visualizations like The Secret Lives of Numbers [2002] and The Dumpster [2006], which offer novel perspectives onto millions of online communications. Previously, Levin was granted an Award of Distinction in the Prix Ars Electronica for his Audiovisual Environment Suite [2000] interactive software and its accompanying audiovisual performance, Scribble [2000]. Other projects from recent years include Re:MARK [2002], Messa di Voce [2003], and The Manual Input Sessions [2004], developed in collaboration with Zachary Lieberman, and Scrapple [2005] and Ursonography [2005]; these performance and installation works use augmented-reality technologies to create multi-person, real-time visualizations of their participants’ speech and gestures. Levin is now in the preliminary research phase of a new body of work, which centers about interactive robotics, machine vision, and the theme of gaze as a primary new mode for human-machine communication.

Levin's work has been exhibited at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, The Kitchen, the Neuberger Museum, and The Whitney Biennial, all in New York; Ars Electronica in Linz, Austria; The Museum of Contemporary Art in Taipei, Taiwan; The InterCommunication Center in Tokyo, Japan; and the Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie in Karlsruhe, Germany, among other venues. His funding credits include grants from Creative Capital, The New York State Council on the Arts, the Rockefeller MAP Fund, The Greenwall Foundation, the Langlois Foundation, and the Arts Council of England. Levin received undergraduate and graduate degrees from the MIT Media Laboratory, where he studied with John Maeda in the Aesthetics and Computation Group. Between degrees, he worked for four years as an interaction designer and research scientist at Interval Research Corporation. Presently Levin is Associate Professor of Electronic Time-Based Art at Carnegie Mellon University; his work is represented by the bitforms gallery, New York City.