■ "conch "
    ■ Yoshiyuki Katayama (Japan)



    It's a bit like falling in love. At first glimpse you kind of get a tickling feeling in your stomach and as other qualities are subsequently revealed you kind of get more and more enthralled. Land Clock beguiles you. You are not too sure of what is happening, but the colors and the movement draws you into the ever changing landscape. Time is ticking away and you almost feel like you want to reach out and stop it as it all goes by much too fast. I have watched clocks all my life, but never before had I had the sense of time ticking away from me as it does in this fleeing landscape.

    But it doesn't stop there. There is the promise of the next four grey tabs enticing you to explore deeper into Yoshiyuki Katayama's captivating layers in his project Conch, and, as the layers are revealed, so the tickling in the stomach increases with each vignette. In Marked Site we are following someone's footsteps across grass, stony terrain, leafy forest floor and pebbly beach. Are they my own footsteps? It's easy to fall into this illusion as the crunch of each step does sound very much like my own. Here again, time is ticking past; on each step, time is stamped into my print; whether it is my shoe print or my naked footprint marking my path - to where? The laughing children in the background suggest that I am on a deliberate path - but to where is anyone's guess.

    Clearly we are not alone in this world. We have clearly fallen into someone else's world and we are instantly made aware of the fact that although we tread our path alone, we navigate this world with an understanding that we are part of a system; a holon within a holistic whole. This year we sought artists who reveal the ghost in the machine, and as time ticks away in the world of the Conch, it is clear that even if we oursleves become the ghost in this machine, we are certainly not alone and some sort of governing hand is helping us navigate through the landscapes.

    Our Hands captures the sun's rays in the palm of our hands. By this time I am completely caught up in the interface and these hands are already mine. The mouse click proves it. Again the soundtrack is subtle, but it does give me enough information to hold on to the sunrays until I am really ready to let go. By this time I am completely wrapped up in this world and can't wait to see what the next grey tab will bring.

    With Lined Stone I am totally enthralled. The sounds of clicking stones lead me through this maze of pebbly pathways - always keeping to the line that is etched on the pebble, and always ready for the next stone to get to where ever it is I am/he is going to. As the incline changes so the little figure adjusts its journey - sometimes walking or running, while I/he effortlessly change to crawling when the incline becomes too steep. As each pebble bridge is breached the stones come together with a little 'clack' - a reassuring sound that encourages me/him to go on with our precarious journey.

    The last in the series is driven by Rain. The raindrops pound on the flashes of wet scenes, gradually building to a crescendo as the storm increases. My only problem with Conch is that it comes to an end. The scenes can be replayed over and over again, and they still emit the same wonder, but the truth is - as in all good affairs of the heart - you simply want more and more.

    Congratulations to Yoshiyuki Katayama and thank you for the beautiful and compelling landscapes you have created for us!

    Cloud of Clouds

    Congratulations too to Miguel Leal (concept and coordination) and Luís Sarmento (programming) for their minimalistic yet original rendering of cloud matrixes; drawn from 1.000.000 photos of clouds that they have linked to Flickr. If the palette of previous generations of artists depended on oil pigments or acrylics, these artists have plundered the databases of perhaps the largest collections of images ever harvested and have integrated the notion of 'clouds' to create their own meta-clouds; each formed from the semantic interpretation of what the idea of a cloud means to you and me. You can probably spend hours moving from one cloud in these clusters to the next and discovering for yourself how the collective we envision our world, and how we connote what the term 'cloud' means to us.

    Self Portrait

    Ethan Ham has also interrogates Flickr in order to determine, by how software process can recognise his own portrait from the thousands of images the interface scans in the background. A project commissioned by, Self Portrait reflects on machine generated art, and provides us a glimpse into the machine and an ideal opportunity to spot its ghosts. In this case, having been primed to do by the artist, this machine selects only those ghosts from the thousand of images at its disposal who look like - according to the code provided by the artist - Ethan.

    The Disagreeing Internet

    It's annoying, it's dizzying and it's alarming, but most of all it is foreboding! The Disagreeing Internet reminds each of us of how dependent we have already become on this beast - and by its shaking its head back at us we detect a sense of disapproving scorn that the machine itself is mocking us. How dare it say 'no' to us!

    Susan Hazan