chaz evans

S3BMS (Short Big Mouth Billy Bass Messaging System)

S3BMS is a new platform for singing-fish-based communication. S3BMS is a new international standard for short message communication which combines the informational efficiency of morse code with the semiotic flourish of robotic-singing fish gesture. S3BMS is specifically designed with naval and military aircraft communication in mind, but it is easy to foresee its popularity in the consumer communication electronics marketplace.

The system makes use of three official Big Mouth Billy Bass units, an arduino board and a wireless keyboard. The user types a message on the typing pad, letter by letter, and each letter is translated by the system into a coded pattern of fish movement. The language itself has a semiotic pattern (aka a "bass-glyph") for every letter in the English alphabet and numeral characters 0-9. Bass-glyphs are a combination of three gestures inherent to the Big Mouth Billy Bass unit: a) head turn b) tail flick and c) mouth open. The presence or absence of these gestures determine the content of the bass-glyph. As an open standard, it is expected that the S3BMS community will evolve the bass-glyphs language and find emergent new ways of communicating through the system as time goes on.

Interested parties from the public or private sector can learn more about the device by downloading the
[official brochure].


Apparition (Death)
Spencer Delineascope 750 magic lantern, custom slide

Apparition (Doom)
19th century magic lantern (model and maker unknown), custom slide

Apparition (Abyss)
Argus 200 slide projector, custom slide

"Besides, you never know with spirits. There is no guarantee that they'll come when called. They appear when they want to. So seances are a tricky technique for dealing with creatures from the past. Citations, conversely, are more controlling; the one who cites takes possession of what is cited. Things work differently in a seance. With spirits you must negotiate. And if you lose the upper hand in this process you might end up being the one possessed. Power relations are not predetermined; they are subject to negotiation. In contrast to the act of citation, the ceremony of convocation remains perilously performative and open ended. It cannot coerce a community (among and with spirits) to come into being."
-Jan Ver Woert

"Look well at the fate that awaits you all one day. Remember the phantasmagoria!"
-Etienne Gaspard Robertson

Agonism Machine (I Ching Abridged and Updated)

Software, audio, plasma displays, laptop PC, microcontroller, distance sensor, AV carts, display mounts, work desk
Text by Adrian Vigliano and Harry S. Truman

A media-enabled sculpture roughly set in the formation of political representatives at a congressional hearing. A program (written in processing) is displayed across three large plasma monitors. The monitors bear six real, yetnot altogether recognizable, figures from the United States House of Representatives. They are adorned with the ubiquitous graphics of C-SPAN. Within the program lies 64 hexagrams and 64 divinations associated with each. The hexagrams and not formed of lines, but by the mouths of the figures. The 64 divinations are not the divinations of the I Ching, but a contemporary rewrite of the entire text crafted by my collaborator Adrian Vigliano. The viewer is encouraged to meditate on a question. When a viewer approaches the work, this oracle of six figures is activated. The oracle then dispenses the hexagram, the divination as well as visual and aural feedback, whether or not the viewer is expecting it.

Featured in
I Accidentally Turned Off the Sun
2012 UIC Art MFA Thesis Exhibition 4
April 10-14, 2012
at Gallery 400, University of Illinois at Chicago

Binocular Rivalry (Alabama)

Software, audio, CRT monitors, desktop PC, AV cart

Binocular Rivalry (Alabama) is a representation of hard binaries that continue to oppose each other; an attempt to illustrate a system functioning agonistically, even though all parties involved operate in antagonistic terms. If nothing else, political poles re-produce themselves in perpetuity. If agonism is not only possible but already present in a system, improving agonistic production is only a manner of creating a perspective where one could leave their antagonistic position temporarily to view the systemic whole.

Featured in
I Accidentally Turned Off the Sun
2012 UIC Art MFA Thesis Exhibition 4
April 10-14, 2012
at Gallery 400, University of Illinois at Chicago

Behold, the Oikoborg!

Software, sound, projection, media facade
Text written by Adrian Vigliano
Performed by:
Chaz Evans (Bertrand Goldberg)
Peter Kersten (Jimmy Wales)
Sarah Nelson (William LeBaron Jenney)
Maureen Ryan (Jeanne Gang)
Adrian Vigliano (Fazlur Khan)

Behold, the Oikoborg! is a software-based installation created specifically for the Jackman Goldwasser Catwalk Gallery in the Hyde Park Arts Center. Meant as a platform for human-to-human communication filtered through a media-architecture facade, the piece brings Vera Buhlman's concept of the oikoborg (an architectural media-being who functions as a companion species to humans) to a comically literal level.

The piece transforms the the five-screen, ten-projector array of the catwalk gallery into the hidden persona of the Hyde Park Art Center itself. The extra-wide urban screen is split into five large faces made of basic shapes, separated only by slight differences in the cartoonish eyes and mouths, as well as different colors based on the NTSC color bar standard. The projected mouths and eyes are controlled by the performers' voices via the minim audio library for Processing. Each face contains different personality traits, but it is the grouping of all of their voices together (in the manner of a Greek chorus) which comprises the hidden fictional persona of the building. The catwalk gallery is then the face of the HPAC-as-oikoborg and the rest of the structure its body.

The thoughts and opinions of the five-in-one persona are very loosely based of four important figures in the history of Chicago architecture (William LeBaron Jenney, Bertrand Goldberg, Fazlur Khan and Jeanne Gang) as well as the founder of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales. Their discussion takes the tone of great bluster and declaration yet none of the different sides of this group persona ever fully understand or effectively communitcate with each other. Essentially, the scene is a fragmented media-architecture personality desperately trying to relate to itself and the humans around it.

In a sense the piece is meant as a parody of the oikoborg as a long-standing media trope. In the style of Hal 9000 or Max Headroom, this digital being is bound and integrated with the physical space around it. Rather than glamorize this trope in a dystopian science fiction context, this performance attempts to analyze the problems that might occur in the life of such a being: a sedentary existence, the difficulty meeting other humans and media-beings etc. Although it takes the illusionistic appearance of a sentient media-architecture being, at the end of the day, the thoughts and ideas of the oikoborg are coming from human performers, suggesting that a hybrid virtual/physical existence does not imply disembodiment. Rather, human-to-human communication works in a problematic symbiosis with technology.