Artist David Datuna is famous for integrating glass into his pieces. So it is no surprise that his latest work, Viewpoint Of Billions, incorporates Google Glass—and its technology—into the mixed media display. I was able to view this art-meets-technology piece during a special preview at the New World Symphony during Miami Art Week, and to try on a pair of Google Glass.
Viewpoint Of Billions was a labor of love for Datuna, who collaborated with technology company BrickSimple for this multimedia production. It has been a yearlong endeavor, and even as late as 2:30 a.m. on Monday night they were still working on the project before it was open to the media. Kiwi Arts Group, a local cultural association, was also involved in bringing the piece to Miami.
BrickSimple is doing major work with Google Glass, and this is the first artistic application of the technology in the world. They are also developing the first medical device integration with GG. I spoke with Det Ansinn, the President and Founder of Brick Simple, who explained the collaboration. When I asked him what viewers should take away from this piece, he noted that with all of the different perspectives, each person would have unique and diverse experiences.
Viewpoint Of Billions is large art piece of the American flag covered in eyeglass lenses (each of varying prescription strengths, thereby adding extra texture to the work). Visually, the piece is amazing to look at even without Google Glass. However, by slipping on a pair, the viewer unlocks underlying images and interactive content (such as short films). There are 30,000 parts to the artwork.
For my experience, I was given the Google Glass apparatus and walked through a small demonstration on how to use them. One of the interesting components is that there are no speakers attached to the frames. The technology vibrates close to your eardrum in order to provide the sound. I was also asked if I wanted to opt in, meaning did I want to be recorded while I was viewing Datuna’s piece. Part of the artwork’s legacy is that viewers who do opt in (as I did) are contributing to the ongoing nature of the piece. The recordings will be uploaded and will continually create new multimedia artwork for all to see. You can view the glassfeed here.
Once I was up to speed and clad in the Google Glass, I approached the piece. At various points throughout the flag were images of pop culture figures such as Michael Jackson (during the Jackson Five days), Jimi Hendrix and Oprah Winfrey. Sometimes corresponding digital movies would play. Other times, I would see a short film on a different subject. Most of the media I interacted with dealt in pop culture, such as Lady Gaga singing, a clip of I Love Lucy or a press conference with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
One of the things I was struck by is how casually the people from BrickSimple referred to the eyepieces as just “Glass.” No need to say “Google Glass,” I guess. And how casually these same employees were walking around with their “Glass.” For me, the experience was a bit disconcerting, as various images and messages appeared to be floating in front of me. I’m sure there is a learning curve for wearing these high-tech, highly coveted glasses.
I do love the idea of using “Glass” to enhance artwork and other lifestyle projects. While so many people are worrying about privacy issues related to Google Glass, BrickSimple is coming up with both life-saving applications and cultural ones.
Basel-goers can take in this piece—and don a pair of Google Glass—all week in the Design District at 97 NE 40th St., from today through December 8, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. There is a complimentary shuttle bus between Design Miami and the Design District for those who don’t want to stress over parking.
Viewpoint Of Billions will be heading to Lincoln Center in New York City after Miami Art Week (Dec 16-18).