Marten Berkman
Independent new media artist

George Legrady Paula Levine Munro Ferguson Willy Le Maitre Steve Dietz Perry Hoberman JoAnn Kuchera-Morin Marten Berkman Sid Fels Ruben Moller Leila Sujir Maria Lantin Jaanis Garancs Henry Daniel Catherine Richards Glen Lowry Henry Tsang Alison Reiko Loader
Remote Sensibility: Binocular Sensing

Is meaning born in experience? Is experience born in the medium?

I have questioned the meaning of my images of "nature" for a culture that often has no shared experience of the subject. What does a pretty picture of the wild mean, if the first place we encounter it is in a shampoo or automobile ad? Is the manufactured world cutting us off from intimate relationship with the larger community of life? But isn't technology, the expression of human creativity and industriousness, the very expression of our nature? How then are we at odds with the rest of life on this planet? Is it in fact not a question of technology, but a question of our perception?

Remote Sensibility: Binocular Sensing is my artistic practice intending to push my own horizons as a visual artist, to blur the boundaries between subject and object. From drawing, painting and photography, I have been inevitably drawn to stereoscopy, high definition imaging, and the moving image. In providing an almost tactile window on a remote place (which we will never physically visit), we may have an opportunity to discover our own sense of meaning about it. What is interesting is that this moving canvas (with the depth of sculpture), which seems the antithesis of the landscape photograph, has a remarkable quality - it invites us to be still. Is there a collective, unconscious memory we share, in beholding the blowing of grasses on the top of a beringian hill?

Now, another problem I have had with the classic landscape photograph, of which I have made thousands, is that we are not included in the image. Of course the viewer is part of the picture in the act of beholding, but "nature" is so often described as devoid - of us. And I am interested in this concept, because surely it is a construct of our own making. Thus my research into pure data, and interactivity of the stereoscopic HD video installation: in looking into the land, we see ourselves. Technology becoming ecology, the ecology of our perception


What on earth is a guy who built a cabin in the Yukon doing at an interactive futures conference?

I've been suspended between the "natural" and manufactured worlds since a very young age, and fascinated by both. My epiphanies about nature, and human nature, have been in places as ordinary as a freshwater spring teeming with life beside my childhood home, to locations ranging from Neolithic tent rings in the arctic, to the complex hearts of our manufactured cities. My artistic practice is about the duality (or illusion of it) between the "natural" and manufactured worlds: the ecology of our perception.

Marten's studio is upstream from Whitehorse, Yukon, where he settled after years of exploring remote environments on six continents. His visual art is included in private, corporate and government collections including the Canada Council Art Bank. Documentary, dramatic and experimental films about the land have screened at festivals around the world. Cascade de Lumière broadcasts on seventy PBS stations in the US in 2009.

To reflect the many concurrent and often contradictory layers of meaning between industrial culture and the land, Marten explores the parameters offered by digital and network based media. His current research and production interests include: video art, stereoscopic video and photography, network based art installation, and responsive environments. He received a scholarship to the Optic Nerve residency at the Banff Center (2005), and his solo show Remote Sensibility incorporating new media exhibits at the Yukon Arts Center Gallery (2009).

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