Michael Bergeron
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The Aurora Picture Show opens an installation from artist Nick Bontrager titled Signals. A reception and artist Q&A begins Friday, February 6 (6 to 9 pm.). The installation will be on display at the Aurora for the next week.

From the Aurora press release: “Texas artist and New Media Art professor Nick Bontrager returns to Aurora Picture Show with Signals, a new media project where the audience participates in creating the work by interacting with the artist on screen. Toying with the interaction of a virtual self and the idea of the Mechanical Turk, Signals  is an interactive video installation utilizing artificial intelligence, allowing the viewer to visually communicate directly with a projected entity while bridging the gap of science-fiction and near-future technology.

By sending a cellular text message, visitors will create morse code messages that are flashed to a virtual representation of the artist on screen via a military signaling lamp. The artist will then respond from an unseen location, signaling back to the participant through video in morse code with a similar lamp.  Visitors are invited to decode the video response, thus customizing the content and crafting a unique exchange. Taking place in different biomes and locations reminiscent of film history (forests, deserts, an iconic bridge from the 1986 film Stand By Me, etc), Signals creates the illusion that the character in the film is communicating directly with visitors in real time.

Nick Bontrager is an interdisciplinary artist whose work and research explores the physical and conceptual nature of the moving image, game-based interactions and exchanges, and the idea of replicas or facsimiles as tools of preservation.  Bontrager is interested in the intersection of real and virtual spaces, and how those spaces can harbor a memory.  By openly questioning this conflation of these memories and locations, he hopes to engage in a dialogue between artist and viewer which results in a unique and evolving experience on behalf of any involved parties.  Bontrager’s studio practice engages thematic elements of failure, chance, autonomy, and agency while fusing emerging technologies with traditional tools and techniques.”

— MB