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Scott Snibbe


"What I hope for most of my pieces is to have people get out of their sense of themselves ...."
-- Scott Snibbe
View Spark segment on Scott Snibbe. Original air date: April 2005. (Running Time: 9:52)

For more than a decade, Scott Snibbe has been combining interactive computer technology with Eastern philosophy to create artworks that are at once technologically sophisticated and hauntingly lyrical. In the Spark episode "Shaken and Stirred," get a glimpse of his recent work, including the large-scale interactive sculpture "Blow Up."

All of Snibbe's work depends upon the participation of its audience to work. Using a projector-camera-recorder loop and Snibbe's own recognition software, several of his pieces produce a kind of video based on participants' actions. "Cause and Effect" (at Rx Gallery in November 2004) allowed audience members to produce projected silhouettes that trace their own movements. In "Shy" (at the Exploratorium through February 2005), a projected geometrical form timidly withdrew from participants' advances.

Much of Snibbe's work finds its roots in ideas that come from Buddhism. Snibbe attends several classes a week at the Tse Chen Ling Center for Tibetan Buddhist Studies, in San Francisco. His concept of interactivity is closely related to the Buddhist belief that the central delusion of human existence is that each of us exists independently of everything else around us. Through their ceasing to exist without the input of participents, Snibbe's interactive works demonstrate that all things are connected.

Designed for the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, "Blow Up" is Snibbe's first large-scale sculptural piece. It is conceptually continuous with the works that came before it. Participants can blow into a set of sensors, which then activates a corresponding grid of industrial fans. Through the movement of the fans, the participant's breath is both represented and amplified. The piece links breath to wind, connecting the personal with the cosmic, the inside of the body with the space that surrounds it, and demonstrating the lack of difference between the two.

Scott Snibbe's work has been shown internationally at venues that include the InterCommunications Center, Tokyo; Ars Electronica, Linz, Austria; Eyebeam, New York City; New Langton Arts, San Francisco; ICA, London; and The Kitchen, New York City. He holds B.A. degrees in computer science and fine art, and an M.A. in computer science from Brown University. Snibbe studied experimental animation at the Rhode Island School of Design and has taught media art and experimental film at Brown University, The RISD and UC Berkeley. He has held research positions at Adobe Systems and Interval Research.

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