Saturday, April 13, 2024

Don Ritter

Don Ritter, photo by Luna Leung

Don Ritter is a Canadian artist and writer who has been active internationally in the field of digital media art since 1986. Ritter’s large, interactive installations are controlled by body position, body gesture or voice, enabling audiences to become actors within narratives that are formed by an installation’s technology. Many of Ritter’s installations are intended to be portraits of human social behaviour, such as the installation ‘Vox Populi’ (2005), which portrays that few people want to be leaders. Ritter’s recent writings examine the relationships between aesthetics, ethics, and digital media.

Ritter’s most recent projects include ‘For All The Museums That Forgot To Offer An Exhibition To Me’, a media façade that presents video projections of fire onto a museum accompanied by the sound of explosions and ‘Unnecessary Signage’, a series of prohibitive metal signs based on real world tragedies that order viewers to act more ethically.

Ritter’s work has been presented at festivals, museums, and galleries throughout North America, Europe and Asia since 1989, including SITE Santa Fe (USA), Winter Olympics 2010 Cultural Olympiad (Vancouver), Metrònom (Barcelona), Sonambiente Sound Festival (Berlin), Exit Festival (Paris), Ars Electronica (Linz), New Music America (NYC), and Jack the Pelican Presents (Brooklyn). His most widely exhibited work is ‘Intersection’, an interactive sound installation that confronts audiences with the sounds of rushing and crashing cars in a large dark room. Intersection has been experienced by over 600,00 people in 9 countries.

Ritter’s work between 1988 and 1993 focused on performances of interactive video controlled by live, improvised music using software that he developed as a graduate student at MIT. He has collaborated primarily with trombonist George Lewis, and also with musicians Nick Didkovsky, Amy Denio, Thomas Dimuzio, Ikue Mori, Geneviève  Letarte, Ben Neill, Trevor Tureski, and Tom Walsh.

Ritter completed his graduate education at the MIT’s Center For Advanced Visual Studies, MIT Media Lab and Harvard University’s Carpenter Center, and he has undergraduate degrees in fine arts, psychology, and electronics engineering technology. Ritter’s professors included artist Otto Piene, filmmaker Richard Leacock, and film theorist Vlada Petric. He has held full-time professorships in art and design at Concordia University in Montreal, Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, and currently at City University of Hong Kong. Ritter has lived in Edmonton, Toronto, Montreal, New York, Berlin, Seoul, and currently in Hong Kong. Video documentation of his work is online here.

“For All The Museums That Forgot To Offer An Exhibition To Me” 2015, media façade on Daegu Culture and Arts Center, South Korea, 250 x 107 ft.
“Unnecessary Signage”, 2015, series of 37 silk screen prints on aluminium, each 16×22 in.
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