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Student artist creates third space at 'Ars Electronica'

October 20, 2003

Photo of Shirley ShorFor Shirley Shor, the fusion of art, technology and information commonly referred to as "new media" is the best way to express her artistic vision.

Two of her pieces, "Crossing" and "Nomadic Lines," were featured at the new media festival Ars Electronica, the most prestigious show of its kind in the world, held last month in Linz, Austria. Artists selected to showcase their work are among the most provocative and innovative in the world of new media art. Shor's software installations were among the several hundred pieces selected from 2,714 submissions for the event. About 30,000 visitors attended the weeklong new media festival.

Pursuing a master's degree in fine arts in the Conceptual and Information Arts program, Shor, 32, was drawn to computer and technology while an undergraduate at Tel-Aviv University in Israel. Her interests in art, philosophy and technology coalesced, and she began producing computer art.

Photo of Shor's art installation "Split" which features computer-generated images projected on to screensShor writes sophisticated custom software in the computer language C++ that generates non-repeating moving images projected onto a physical space, such as a room, wall or weather balloon. Shor has named this new form of art "software installations."

"Software is raw material that can be merged with different materials and media in order to maybe create something new," says Shor, who lives in San Francisco. "I take a simple code and create complexity with it."

But unlike other artists who work with software art, she was not content to leave the artwork on the screen. Instead, Shor found ways to make the software interactive with her audience and the exhibit space.

"My work is about the playful vitality of space and about movement generating spaces. I want to think about space not as a noun but rather as a verb, as an action," Shor writes on her Web site.

Shor is able to change "space" from a noun to a verb by projecting her software-generated images onto any pre-existing object. The combination of the pre-existing object and her projected images becomes a "third space" through the viewer's experience of the installation, Shor says.

Shor's inspiration for her artwork comes from "links," which she defines as people, places, objects, situations, events, books, music and thoughts.

Art Professor Stephen Wilson believes Shor has earned the attention of the art world.

"Shirley's work breaks new ground in generative algorithmic art and investigation of fluid architecture,” Wilson says. “Algorithmic art is a movement growing internationally in which the artists create software code that then generates images or sounds. Shirley's application of these systems in architecture is quite an innovation."

Through her unique outlook, Shor has enriched not only the art world at large but also the arts community at SFSU by bringing into the classroom a range of experiences from experimental art, her international background, and her knowledge of philosophy and art history, says Wilson.

Shor is enjoying a great deal of success and exposure in the art world. In addition to her recent recognition at Ars Electronica, her installations are being exhibited by the San Francisco Arts Commission in the "Visual 150" space, Limn Gallery in San Francisco, and Singapore Art Museum.

-- Matt Itelson with Public Affairs Student Writer Javier Jimenez


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Last modified October 20, 2003, by the Office of Public Affairs