M a r k ,,L e e,, K o v e n

[ Flock | Play | Describe | Swarm | Cummunal | Meandor | Airmail | PinWheel | Stones | Seedling | Blowing Emma | Beginning | Hood | Heart | Spit Culture | Jerusalem | 537 | Arrival | Realtime | Entropy | Cream | Gape | Here | Turn | Moth | Observations | Can You Pass For One | Come | Kohelith | About Artist / Contact ]

Flock of Sheep

Utilizing reclaimed and salvaged wood from various sources, crates were built to mimic the crates pctured in the book The Little Prince, and then hung from the ceiling.As individuals come into close proximity of the hanging crates, the water ionizers installed within each of the crates are triggered and begin to create water vapor, essentially clouds, that then eminate from the crates.


Play Generation

A public art piece designed and created in collaboration with Sara Sanders and the N.C. State Mechatronics department, "Play Generation" is a electricity generating hang from Merry-Go-Round that when played with, generates electricity to power a large interactive LED Lite-Brite array.

With the completion of the 14 foot tall by 12 foot in diameter Merry-Go-Round component, currently the project is in phase two of fabricating the 5 foot by 12 foot LED Lite-Brite section.

Decribe to me a Sheep

Describe to me a Sheep is an installation that utilizes a MAC Mini connected to a series of Microphones and Video Projector that records and then translates their speach into randomized phrases which are then projected onto the screen.In addition to the projection of the spoken words, each time a person speaks into the microphone, a bubble machine is activated, producing long lasting bubbles which accumulate throughout the length of the installation.This peice was inspired by Antoine de Saint-Exupery's book titled "The Little Prince"



This work examines and compares a phenomenon of nature known as Swarming utilizing two types of bacteria and one type of fungus, all of which are bioluminescent. Each petri dish is innoculated with a measured mixture amount of both fast and slow growing micro-organisms. During the run of the piece, microscope video cameras, along with video projectors, project the comparative growth in the various dishes.Comprised of 48 to 64 innoculated oversized petri dishes, each petri dish becomes a test of which type of behavior is most effective, that of numbers versus growth factor, and where the tipping point is in one strategy versus the other.


Communal Blow

Using people powered wind turbines that produced electricity, dragonfly and other types of insect wings are activated through use of generators, recipricating gear mechanismes and muscle wire. The pieces are engineered to be neeing two or more individuals blowing at the same time in order to generate the needed current. The series is comprised of a number of various sized pieces currently ranging from desk top models of 8 to 14 inches to large floor and ceiling mounted pieces in excess of 8 feet height. Materials are brass, aluminum, wood, and the electricity generating turbines in combination with electric motors.



With the mystique and rich history of Black Mountain College as the basis for the piece, participants use a bubble umbrella fitted with a touch activated MP3 player that takes them on a audible tour of Lake Eden and the surrounding original location of Black Mountain College.

The stories and landmarks are pointed out and told to the participants as they physically move about the landscape.


Airmail (series)

Airmail is a series working with Sound and interactive wooden wings that are activated by gallery goers pulling on the handle. Current sizes range from 15 feet to 21 feet in wingspan.As the handle is pulled to activate the flapping motion, sound is captured and amplified through a the use of contact microphones and wireless sound systems which fills the space with a growling hurrican like sound



Involved a 8 Foot mirrored surface Vertical Wind Turbine (VAWT) atop a 42 foot tower surrounded by 36 ground level motion activated LED focused spotlights controlled by microprocessor. Turbine powers interactive lighting array that shines back on itself creating, a “Disco Ball” lighting effect across the city.

Chosen by juror Jerry Saltz as winner of Hillsburrough County public art open call in 2007. Project was defunded due to State and City budget cuts

A Stones Throw

Gallery goers are invited to make a stones from sand they bring or on location at the gallery. Once they have made a stone using the metal casts provided, they set it aside to dry for someone who comes after them.For their effort they are allowed to pick up a stone made by someone previously and make a choice, they can either throw and skip it across the sand or use an ancient Catapult, called a Ballista, to launch it at the wall where it is obliterated back into sand.


Social Seedling Seedlings

Social Seedling is an ongoing migratory project engaging ecology, community and individual.  Its primary aim is to reconnect us to our food source in a direct physical experience.  Viewers are encouraged to cross a metaphoric line in becoming a participant by planting Seeds of various food bearing plants such as: soy, eggplant, lima beans etc…  Visually seedlings are displayed on shelves ringing the space growing in spun pumous rock while others await planting for future owners. Using Bronze casting, the exhibition also includes a cast series of sculpture showing aspects of plants and the progression of growth in steps.

For their effort, besides the pleasure in getting their hands in dirt, participants receive a Seedling to take home and nurture to maturity, thereby experiencing direct contact with creation, plants and producing their own food.  They also will have the satisfaction of starting life for someone in the next show creating a cycle of life, sharing and reward. In addition, they will be able to track the progress of their plant and others online, as it grows to produce food.

Blowing Emma Emma

Blowing Emma is an interactive installation that utilizes fans and electricity producing wind turbines that power audio recordings.  By blowing on or pointing fans at the various wind turbines placed around the space, the participants control the playback of previously recorded audio segments.  These recordings are comprised of a word or series of words derived from a quote by the anarchist, Emma Goldman.  As viewers take this active role by interacting and affecting the playback of the recordings through their aiming or blocking of the wind, they create a living shifting work of Emma’s commentary on life.  Which fans turn on and in what sequence they operate will be determined in part by the actions, number and positions of the individuals within the space.  The result could range from a single word being heard to a cacophony of words and phrases that sound more like an angry crowd than a cohesive monologue.   If participants attempt to control or follow the constraints and rules of “Blowing Emma” by playing them in order, in the end they will hear the words of an anarchist blown back at them.  That this tangle of control could produce the words of America’s most influential anarchist is another irony generated by the character of this piece.


In the Beginning nCAD 3-D eginning

It is a widely held scientific theory that all life on Earth, including humans, owes its beginnings to Bacteria.  This series utilizes Computer Assisted Design 3-D software to create and draw imagery that depicts various types of bacteria that represent the beginnings of life.  These designs are based upon still and motion imagery taken from live bacteria colonies grown from other pieces such as “Projected Growth” and “Spit Culture”.

The final output of the imagery takes several different forms including: prints with color pencil added onto the surface of the print, stereographic drawings that recreate 3-D imagery, as well as photographic lenticular images.  These drawings will ultimately be used to produce physical sculptures utilizing various types of casting.

Neighbor-Hood - Hood

Collaboration with DEREK CURRYNeighbor-Hood (or its working title: Isn’t Gated-Community an Oxymoron) is a project where bandanas, instructions on how to wear them and how to make gang signs with your hands, are distributed to residents of gated communities.Two methods are utilized, the first was to design and build a wooden siege weapon called a Ballista, to lob them over the walls of communities. The second method was to fold them into flowers, placing them into gift baskets at the entrances.  In this method the stems of the flowers are made from the instructions for how to wear a bandana and make gang signs.


Heart to Heart to Heart

This research initiative explores the heartbeat as a piece of information. As data, what kind of information can a heartbeat provide? And how can access to this information – normally hidden between individuals – affect communication?We will create a device that transmits one person’s heartbeat to another. This will be communicated through a discreet device such as a bracelet or necklace worn close to the individuals own pulse. Individuals can wear this device in proximity to one another and access information that is physiological and/or emotional. We are interested in extending the type of information one accesses or works with on a day-to-day basis (verbal, visual, or number based data that one is constantly processing/negotiating) to potentially change the nature of interaction/understanding between individuals.


Spit culture/Projected Growth

Spit culture is an interactive installation that invites the participant(s) to spit into Petri dishes prepared with agar, the standard medium used by biologists to culture bacteria. Sixteen to Twenty-Four of these giant Petri dishes are installed in a space labeled through economic hierarchy based upon individuals gross income. Projected Growth takes the finanacial section of the Wall Street Journal to cultivate bacteria, showing the parallel between the growth cycle of bacteria and the mirroring cycle of Markets accross the globe. Hand drawn graphs and charts are exhibited throughout the space so visitors can explore the parallel. In both cases, the bacteria are illuminated while a digital microscopic camera system hovering above the dishes allowing participants to view magnified images of the bacteria on the Internet. This camera system affords a visitor to attend the show, contribute bacteria in the form of saliva and track the growth of the created culture.


Going to Jerusalem

A competition dating back to the 12 Century, utilized during the time of the crusades, the game of "Going to Jerusalem" is now a child's game we know as Musical Chairs. "Going to Jerusalem" is a nomadic performative installation that combines technology including Web Cam and Internet participation with first hand patron participation. As a participant on site, you will play a one on one game of musical chairs against a hired champion. Viewers may participate either by playing the game on location or through the Web. During game play, web surfers have access through this website to one of two links, a live video feed with tilt, pan and record control while the second link is a stop button for the music. You may exercise control or just simply remain a voyeur. However, if you find yourself on location during an installment of the game, come and compete or remain a spectator, where the play is passionate, the action suspenseful and the prize is real! Just as crusaders were privileged in being sent on the crusades, here too the Winner receives a one-way ticket to Jerusalem!


537 Butterflies
An installation consisting of 537 live Butterflies located in a hotel room in West Palm Beach making reference to the 2000 election in which G.W. Bush won the election by this margin of votes.  The controversy was not just over hanging chads, but also the Butterfly Ballot.  More than 4000 People reportedly voted for the wrong candidate, and 19000 voted for at least 2 of the presidential candidates, negating their vote.  Palm Beach has more than double the national average for wealth and income, while West Palm Beach is almost 20% below the national average.  Walking inside the room, participants will experience the beauty of live butterflies along side the carnage of the dead and the dieing bringing into question their role as monitor versus co-conspirator.  Upon completion of the show, any surviving butterflies will be liberated if individuals have not already interceded on behalf of the butterflies.

The Arrival is a performance and installation using live performers and 3-D animated lenticular photographs. This work is an investigation of the cultural differences in protocols of how people greet one another and how different societies create varying degrees of physical separation between people. As the audience makes their way inside the space, they are greeted and hugged by strangers, while inside 3-D animated photographs depict people waiting for friends and relatives. In this work I am interested in the effects of our frequent leaving and arriving, including what anticipations, anxieties, and expectations arise from separating and reuniting? As the strangers confront the audience, reactions range from stiff armed denial to reciprocation of the hug, even instances of apologies and promises of "getting together real soon."

Real Time Loop
In this work, I was interested in playing with the blur between the mediated and the actual, modified and unmodified, simulated/ recorded life versus actual living.  This video installation mixed 4 live video feeds with 4 recorded video loops. These were shown on eight flat panel screens installed within the Lowe Museum in Coral Gables, Florida.  The loops became clues as to which panels were live and which were recorded. For many years I have been intrigued by a love of watching.  Additionally, as the surveillance feeds are available to the audience, the fact of the ubiquity of surveillance becomes known.  The audience is both viewed and becomes voyeur, which is also meant to challenge our complacent relationship to technology and surveillance.
Entropy utilized an orthodontist office for a site-specific performance/installation. Elderly individuals shot the audience multiple times in the back with rubber bands, while food and drinks were served exclusively in exchange for rubber bands. This work was meant to call into question the ramifications of our society's ideas of perfection and order by creating an environment whereby the audience was forced to look at their own value system in calling to attention the materials we use as currency. Entropy is the measure of chaos within a system. It is also what gives rubber its elasticity. Orthodontics straightens, rearranges and makes order out of chaos using rubber bands. Rubber was chosen for its ubiqiutous nature, that of being found in everything from weaponry to beauty augmentation, greeting us at birth and preparing us in death.


By serving free Ice Cream, Cream examines an individual’s cultural heritage and personal level of tolerance while commenting on global events when viewers unwittingly become participants in this covert performance/intervention.   An ill-tempered ice-cream man gives away free ice cream: cracking cones, arbitrarily deciding which flavor and quantity to serve, and if he will serve them at all.  3D images of Boy / Girl Scouts frozen in the act of eating ice cream surround the Ice Cream cart while sounds of the Cure's "I am killing an Arab" permeates the area.  With no napkins available, ice-cream eaters are left with dirty hands. Unresponsive to customers, the ice cream man is an American childhood icon gone wrong serving as a metaphor on a global scale!

Female Gape
The Female Gape series is comprised of larger-than-life 3D Lenticular photographs of women mounted onto curved sheets of aluminum which animate a yawn as viewers walk past them. They highlight an essential aspect of my work -- that of subtle viewer interaction and participation combined with a time-based medium. By becoming physically interactive, the portrait no longer represents mere objects of desire that remain static in time.  In both reacting to the viewer and causing an action in the viewer, the 3-D images elicit both a voluntary and involuntary physical response, transcending typical notions of feminine portraiture.

"Here" was a one night only exhibition using a combination of installation with performance. The installation involved four Jeep Cherokees parked outside in front of a black box space called PS 742. Inside the space projection screens ringed the walls with tiered seating in the center of the room. The SUVs parked in front were lined up nose to tail with the lead one being black and the ones behind white. Each had its own video camera with microphone that fed live video and sound into the space utilizing the screens. The performance components included sets of actors in the vehicles and inside the space.

Each vehicle contained actors with specific dialogues and scripts. The lead vehicle contained two women talking about their sexual relationship while the second vehicle involved 3 women discussing their views on abortion. The third vehicle in line contained a female and male actor discussing the parameters of their relationship. A solitary actress singing along to songs on the radio and intermittently talking to people via her cellular phone occupied the last vehicle in line. All this was ongoing while a pair of actors, one male and one pregnant female, played out rolls as husband and wife with their dialogue always ended in an argument. Their instructions were to enlist a patron in trying to settle the their arguments. The live video feeds were piped into the space and projected onto the screens around the room. I was located at a mixing board that allowed me to control which dialogues could be seen and heard by the patrons.



Turn is an installation using sound and 3-dimensional animated lenticular photographs. Turn is based on Ecclesiastes, the only section of the Old Testament derived from human observation rather than divine inspiration. Among the earliest writings concerned with existentialism, Ecclesiastes addresses diverse subjects ranging from cycles of nature, economic and political hierarchies, and the futility of human endeavor. It focuses on manĖs search for understanding where the self-proclaimed authorĖs (Koheleth) answer is that only the here and now holds meaning. Palm fronds ring the edge of the ceiling, recreating the look of a Sukkos, while the floor consists of lenticular photographs of alternating imagery that flips between day sky and sand as viewers move about the room. The wind like sounds revolve in a clockwise direction around the room mimicking the authors observations of cycles within nature and referencing the many Ïall is as chasing after the wind.
Moth is an exploration of social interaction, collaboration, ambivalence, and blind faith. In this work, a series of images were created and enshrined in keychain light boxes, each one being one half of an whole 3-D image. Upon entry to PS742, audience members were given a single keychain and invited to seek out their mate in order to experience the image in 3-Dimensions as each keychain has a mate forming a stereo pair.  When viewed simultaneously through the left and right eyes, the stereo pair merges to form a single 3-D image. 

The act of looking into an open doorway for no other reason than it is open. The dark opening that we peer out of while people pass by glancing in on us. What is this instinctive curiosity buried within our psyche? After filming for many hours at the same location, this footage is edited down to a 2-3 minute piece to create a rhythm and feeling of expectation. These observations are not merely about looking vs. seeing, participation vs. observation, but ultimately asking the question as to who is the voyeur.

Can you pass for one?
The film "can you pass for one"? is one segment of a series of documentary films I am currently working on using street games as a lens to view the variety that is Miami. Being a native of Miami, I have witnessed many changes that have occurred over the years. I feel that portraying Miami through a variety of segments more accurately reflects the atmosphere and personality of this city. These individual fragments that make up the whole. This particular segment gives the viewer a glimpse into Miami's Little Havana area through a back alley late night dominoes game frequented by a mixed group of individuals.

Can You Pass For One
"Come" was an exhibition that existed for one night only. It was a multi-media exhibition featuring work presented using video installation, performance art, sound, and lenticular photography. All this was the backdrop for the performance where the viewers became unsuspecting participants. 10 actors and actresses of various ages and ethnicities had been hired to move about the space interacting with the viewers acting as one of them. Their job was to rub up against the viewers multiple times while not engaging them in any other way other than their gentle rubs. Hanging in mid air and lying on the floor were animated 3D lenticular photographs. The imagery of the lenticular photographs and video installations dealt with common tasks such as eating, touching or petting a pet. Mundane acts and their possible transformation into the sensual and the grotesque were the common theme for the imagery. In addition to the main room, a secondary room housed two luxury SUVs, a Cadillac Escalade and a Lincoln Navigator. The SUVs were used to play sound pieces dealing with dialogues and monologues, giving the viewers a chance to sit inside while experiencing both the sound pieces and the performance.

Kohelith Wrote
"Koheleth Wrote" is a book piece consisting of 8 pages of 3D lenticular images, each of which include a CD-R.  The pages themselves are a combination of 3D images that depict asphalt in various stages combined with layers of text visible only at specific viewing angles.  The piece is based upon a section of the Old Testament, Ecclesiastes.  The construction uses a scroll or Rolodex like design, mirroring Ecclesiastes many references to cycles, thereby allowing the viewer to flip through the pages continously.  Each individual page is lashed to a three inch stained Maple wooden dowel which than sits in a matching wall mounted Maple cradle.  The included mini CDs slide into the back of each page from the side and are manipulated sounds derived from recorded air movement ranging from wind to the sounds of breathing. 




[ Flock | Play | Describe | Swarm | Cummunal | Meandor | Airmail | PinWheel | Stones | Seedling | Blowing Emma | Beginning | Hood | Heart | Spit Culture | Jerusalem | 537 | Arrival | Realtime | Entropy | Cream | Gape | Here | Turn | Moth | Observations | Can You Pass For One | Come | Kohelith | About Artist / Contact ]

Copyright 2015 by Mark Koven

mark at markkoven dot net