Jakob Kudsk Steensen
VR experience for Oculus Rift
RE-ANIMATED is comprised of a 15 minute VR work and 3 videos.
“RE-ANIMATED is based on the last Kaua’i ʻōʻō bird, which died in 1987, marking the extinction of its species. In 2009, its mating call - first recorded in 1975 and later digitized in an ornithology lab in New York – was uploaded to YouTube. Since then, the song of the Kaua’i ʻōʻō calling in vain to a mate who was no longer there has been played by people more than half a million times. RE-ANIMATED is a response to this mating call. It is a magnificent reanimation of the bird and its song, inhabiting a distorted digital reconstruction of the Kaua’i ʻōʻō’s original habitat, on the Hawaiian island of Kaua’i. RE-ANIMATED is a video and VR work that meditates on our paradoxical techno-scientific trajectory. As a digital gardener, the artist has collected and planted a myriad of flora and fauna, which he, by the use of algorithms, has programmed to colonize the island. The virtual landscape is equally an entrancing ecosystem filled with water, light, plants, birds, fish, and insects, and a biotechnological laboratory for a resurrected, monstrously-scaled bird. Kudsk Steensen’s virtual island also echoes computer simulation models that climate scientists use to predict future climate scenarios for life on earth.
RE-ANIMATED is the result of extensive field work to collect and 3D-scan flora and fauna, alongside a number of collaborations. The American Museum of Natural History granted the artist access to its restricted archives, which are unavailable to the public. There, Kudsk Steensen handled and photographed preserved Kaua’i ʻōʻō birds collected in the late 1800s. The artist interviewed Ornithologist Douglas H. Pratt about his memories of the Kaua’iʻōʻō, as well as his perspective on painting the bird and documenting its existence in light of its extinction. Parts of these interviews serve as audio in the experience. RE-ANIMATED’s virtual world comes to life with interactive audio that includes algorithmic music composed by Michael Riesman, Musical Director for the Philip Glass Ensemble, as well as environmental audio effects that connect to the digital landscape. Plants, moss, and insects respond to the pulse of music generated in real-time, and the audience’s breath and voice organically impact the virtual atmosphere through a microphone in the VR headset. As a result, the VR experience is unique for every user. RE-ANIMATED ultimately investigates how we relate to nature irrevocably altered by human activity. As a slow-moving, poetic virtual environment, the artwork exists as both dream and nightmare. It provokes fresh perspectives on our ecological future, which may become unbound by the physical conditions governing our present reality.”
Text by curator Toke Lykkeberg for RE-ANIMATED, a solo exhibition by Jakob Kudsk Steensen at Tranen Center for Contemporary Art, November 9, 2018 - February 14, 2019.
Arrival, 2018, 4K video, 10 min 30 sec. Video link.
Mating Call, 2018, 4K video, 3 min 25 sec. Video link.
Bug Zapper, 2018, 4K video, 5min 45 sec. Video link.
RE-ANIMATED is made with support from The Danish Arts Foundation, Bikuben Foundation, Harvestworks, Mana Contemporary and Artist Alliance
Artist, producer and main developer: Jakob Kudsk Steensen
Composer and Music Director: Michael Riesman
Co-producer: Toke Lykkeberg Nielsen and Tranen Contemporary Art Center
Music technical director and audio programmer: Jerry Smith
Character optimization: Jeremy Thompson, 2Nstudio
Programming assistance and audio interactivity: Todd Bryant, 2Nstudio
Narration: Michael Silberblatt
Interview and research consultant: Douglas H. Pratt
Bird song visualization: Andy Thomas
Special thanks to the The American Museum of Natural History, NYC
for grating access to the Ornithology Archive
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Jakob Kudsk Steensen is a Danish artist and art director based in New York. He is concerned with how imagination, technology and ecology intertwine. Kudsk Steensen develops VR and installations, which invite visitors to enter new ecological realities. To make his work, he collaborates with NGO’s, residencies, scientists and artists from different fields, most recently composer Michael Riesman from Phillip Glass Ensemble. Kudsk Steensen ventures on excursions where he collects organic material, which is digitized and converted into digital worlds with 3D scanners, photogrammetry, satellite data and computer game software. Inspired by ecology-oriented science fiction and conversations with biologists and ethnographers, his projects are ultimately virtual simulations populated by mythical beings existing in radical ecological scenarios. Kudsk Steensen’s has recently exhibited internationally at the 5th Trondheim Biennale for Art and Technology, the Carnegie Museum of Art, the Serpentine Galleries Marathon, Jepson Center for the Arts, Time Square Midnight Moment, MAXXI Rome, FRIEZE London, Podium, and Ok Corral. His work has been featured in MOUSSE Magazine, artnet News, The Art Newspaper, Hyperallergic, Politiken, Information, VICE, and the New York Times, among other publications. He is currently a finalist for the Future Generation Art Prize 2019, and he has received awards from the Danish Arts Foundation, The Augustinus Foundation, and the Lumen Arts Prize. In 2018, Kudsk Steensen's work as an art director won him a Telly award, a Webby Award, a Lumiere Award, and a Games for Change Award. He has been the Artist-in-Residence at Harvestworks, Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, AADK, Centra Negra, MASS MoCA, BRIC, and Mana Contemporary. Steensen is an alumni of NEW INC, a technology and culture incubator by The NEW MUSEUM, in NYC.
If you are interested in exhibiting or viewing this artistic VR experience, please send an email to us.