“Machines of the Present Consume the Imaginations of the Past” (Moving Images) 2020

“Machines of the present consume the imaginations of the past” is a series of prints and moving images generated by machine interpretations of the canon of Western painting. These still and moving images emerge from interactions between machine imagination and the underlying statistical properties of the training data. Appropriated paintings are deconstructed pixel by pixel where the similarity of colour values determine emergent compositions. Paintings are selected to form a historical arc from the emphasis on realism during the Northern European renaissance, to the surrealist and cubist problematizations of realism that manifest the tension between realism and abstraction. Moving images show the subjective decompositional process from the original to an emergent abstract form.


“Imagined Field from the Decomposition of an Apparatus” 2019

This work was produced in the context of the Leaning Out of Windows project, where artists, scholars and physicists are placed in collaborative dialogue in the development of new artistic works. One of the overlaps between experimental particle physics and my own work is the deconstruction of material in order to inspect the nature of objects and their constituents. The source material for this work is a set of photographs of the experimental apparatus of the TRIUMF particle accelerator. The emphasis of the photographs is the beam-lines that facilitate the transport of various particles in the apparatus, which resembles a industrial factory. The various exotic particles are made through acceleration, filtering and collision. I often work with photographic imagery and machine learning methods to question the relations between objects and contexts, reality and imagination, and realism and abstraction.


“Percepts from Watching (Blade Runner; 2001: A Space Odyssey; TRON)” 2018

Photo credit: Surrey Art Gallery and SITE Photography.

As part of the “Watching and Dreaming” exhibition at the Surrey Art Gallery TechLab. Three 47″ x 47″ light-boxes were produced thanks to the support of the British Columbia Arts Council. Each light-box shows a selection of the visual vocabulary (percepts) from “Watching (Blade Runner)” (2016), “Watching (2001: A Space Odyssey)” (2018), and “Watching (TRON)” (2018) installations. The composition of these works is the result of a machine learning algorithm (the Self-Organizing Map), which arranges percepts according to their colour, width and height. (more…)

“Watching (Blade Runner; 2001: A Space Odyssey; TRON)” 2018

Photo credit: Surrey Art Gallery and SITE Photography.

As part of the “Watching and Dreaming” exhibition at the Surrey Art Gallery TechLabWatching (Blade Runner)” (2016), “Watching (2001: A Space Odyssey)” (2018), and “Watching (TRON)” (2018) where installed in the same space and running in parallel. (more…)

“Watching (TRON)” 2018

The third in the series of “Watchers” following “Watching (Blade Runner)” (2016) and “Watching (2001: A Space Odyssey)” (2018). For this work, the approach was the same as used in the 2001: A Space Odyssey version. (more…)

“Watching (2001: A Space Odyssey)” 2018

“Watching (2001: A Space Odyssey)” is a revisit of Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” using the same generative methods from “Watching (Blade Runner)” (2016). In this case of this work, the visual vocabulary is 50,000 percepts and the audio was generated with a finer granularity compared to the “Blade Runner” version. (more…)

“Through the haze of a machine’s mind we may glimpse our collective imaginations (Blade Runner)” 2017

Promo Package (PDF)


“Through the haze of a machine’s mind we may glimpse our collective imaginations (Blade Runner)” is the result of a machine subject reorganizing the pixels and audio samples from Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner according to colour and spectral similarity. This destroys the composition of the original, but preserves underlying statistical properties. The resulting images are softly undulating colour fields while the sounds flow between constant drone and glitch complexity due to the process of self-organization. The structure of the work is an emergent result of the interaction between the machine’s subjectivity and the underlying structure of Blade Runner. The incremental evolution of each scene’s sound-scape and colour field are realizations of the machine’s learning process, enabled by a self-organizing machine learning algorithm. The slow ambient movement of the sound and image is punctuated by drastic changes occurring in the image and sound corresponding to the cuts between scenes in the original. (more…)

“Watching (Blade Runner)” 2016

Promo Package (PDF)


I think of subjectivity and reality as mutually constructive. Cognitive mechanisms impose structure on reality in the form of imaginary categories that inform prediction and recognition. At the same time, the complexity of reality constantly challenges understanding. Cognition determines the most essential and salient properties of reality, but those properties are context dependent. Is the quintessential an objectively observable property of reality or a projection of imagination? (more…)

“As our gaze peers off into the distance, imagination takes over reality…” 2016

Promo Package (PDF)


The relation between the world as we see it and the world as we understand it to be is all wrapped up in abstraction, the act of emphasizing some details in order to dispense with others. My artistic interest in abstraction and computation is an interest in the world as it is versus the world as we read into and conceptualize it. As our gaze peers off into the distance, imagination takes over reality… is a site-specific public artwork that uses a photographic image of the surrounding site as raw material. (more…)

“Watching and Dreaming (2001: A Space Odyssey) (version 1)” 2014

Installation Video (350MB) | Detail Video (43MB) | Promo Package (PDF)


An image is a reference to some aspect of the world which contains within its own structure and in terms of its own structure a reference to the act of cognition which generated it. It must say, not that the world is like this, but that it was recognized to have been like this by the image-maker, who leaves behind this record: not of the world, but of the act. (Harold Cohen, What is an image? 1979)


“An Artist in Process:
A Computational Sketch of Dreaming Machine #3″ 2012

Video Documentation | Video Documentation w/ Interview

Results of the mini-residency and exhibition of work in progress towards Dreaming Machine #3 at New Forms Festival 2012.

Photo Credit: Scott Kaplan


“Typographic Entanglement” 2010

Jonathan Aitken, Greg Corness, Ben Bogart, Kristin Carlson & Rayann Gordon

Video Documentation

This performance represents a continuing exploration of the role of kinetic typography in live performance. Part of a research project funded by SSHRC, the performance explores the relationship between typographic “characters” and dancers. Through the use of near-infrared tracking systems, the dancers are given a measure of control over the movement of words—influencing meaning through motion. Dancers find themselves in a world of words and attempt to develop a shared language.


“Step & Repeat #2” 2009

Video Documentation


“Step & Repeat #2” is an interactive video installation and is a recreation of “Step & Repeat” (2003) using Arduino and high-resolution video. For each step the user takes toward the screen the character on-screen takes a step toward the user.

Rather than being controlled by the user, the character’s actions are based on an interpretation of the user’s actions. Sometimes this interpretation is correct and sometimes it is not. The character does not respond immediately to stimulus but only after an indeterminate period of time. The character’s behaviour is meant to be mischievous.


“Dreaming Machine #2” 2009

Video Documentation (Hong Kong) (10MB)
Video Documentation (São Paulo) (183MB)
Dream Sequence (Montréal) (83MB)
Selection of Dreams from Hong Kong, São Paulo and Montréal (340MB)


Can a machine dream? (more…)

“Self-Organized Landscapes” 2009-2011

View Landscapes | Promo Package (PDF)


Self-Organized Landscapes are print collages composed of thousands of close-up photos that are taken with a camera that pans and tilts to examine the visual context surrounding a particular site. These landscapes present a fractured and multifaceted alien perspective of a particular place in space and time. (more…)

“Dreaming Machine #1” (prototype) 2008

Image | Video Documentation | Dream Video

Dreaming Machine #1 masthead

Can a machine dream?

Dreams are a complex interaction between our bodies, minds, memories, and experiences. “Dreaming Machine” is a trajectory of site-specific artistic works exploring the topic of dreaming. “Dreaming Machine #1” (prototype) is the first in the series. During the day, the work examines its visual context. Stimulus from the visual context inspires day dreams through its experience. At night the work freely associates elements of its experience and presents them to the audience. (more…)

“Memory Association Machine:
Study of Cognitive Processes #1″ 2007
(aka “Self-Other Organizing Structure #1”)

Images | PDCON07 Paper | PDCON07 Video


“Memory Association Machine” is the first prototype in a series of site-specific responsive installations. Rather than depending on the artist to define how these works relate to their site, the task is given to the artwork itself. The structure of the artwork changes in response to continuous stimulus from its context. (more…)

“Resurfacing” 2006

Ben Bogart & Donna Marie Vakalis

Images | Prototype Video | Installation Video

Resurfacing Website | Resurfacing: Byward Market Website


“Resurfacing” captures and archives snapshots or moments in the urban cityscape. These moments are evaluated both by the dynamics within the frame and by the behaviour of the audience. The public both explores and evaluates these moments through a tactile interface. (more…)

“Reflex” 2006

Images | Video


“Reflex” is my latest improvisational work. It is a creative departure for me since it involves both the creation of sound and image simultaneously. “Reflex” stands out as a generative work since the equation used is not something I wrote nor fully understand. (more…)

“Floatscript” 2005

Prototype Video | Exhibition Video


“Floatscript” is an interactive installation. The viewer is greeted to a touch-screen. The image of the screen shows a number of small words subtly floating in the background. When the viewer touches the screen the words and pulled up to the surface, increasing in size and brightness. When the viewer stops touching the screen the words slowly fade back into the ether. (more…)

“Vector” 2005

Images | Video (low, 25MB) | Video (high, 250MB)


“Vector” is the continuation of Volume Curvature. There is a similar emphasis on form in space, but the main focal point for vector is a strong sense of line whereas Volume Curvature often becomes abstracted to the point of texture. Vector was first performed as part of pixelACHE 2005 in Helsinki, Finland. (more…)

“Volume Curvature” 2005



Volume Curvature is a performance piece settled in the body of work known as Self-Similar. During performance, complex organic volumes are created. I think of these volumetric forms as virtual kinetic sculpture. The colours, structure and style of the piece are inspired by the architectural work of Frank Gehry. The piece is a fusion of the structure of music over time and architecture. This performance is the first iteration of Volume Curvature. In future development the piece will be realized as an interactive installation.

“Self-Similar” 2004

Images | Video


Self-Similar is a visual performance piece centered on the fractal theme of self similarity. Self-Similar generates images though an OpenGL feedback process so that the part resembles the whole. Self-Similar is performed live in response to an audience and musical context. (more…)

“Threads” 2004

Images | Video Documentation


“Threads” is a visual performance piece that uses letters and words as the material of the image. (more…)

“Step & Repeat” 2003



“Step & Repeat” is an interactive video installation. For each step the user takes toward the screen the character on-screen takes a step toward the user. (more…)

“Oracle” 2003

Images | Video Documentation | Project Source (230MB)


“Oracle” is an interactive new media installation. It uses real-time weather data, chaos math, and the presence of the viewer(s), to create abstract narratives framed as oracles. (more…)

“Engineered” 2001



Science is a system of knowledge. Medicine is a branch of science that deals with the human body. Science categorizes, cuts, dissects and projects in order to come to knowledge. (more…)

“Aporia” 2001


Aporia Masthead

Aporia is a network of simulacra. The work exists on two planes, the emotional plane, a literal/metaphorical representation, and the conceptual plane. The conceptual plane consists only of signs. The signified are veiled through abstraction and encryption. Social entities are referred to only by the IP address of their internet presence. Technological entities are represented as patent numbers or diagrams. (more…)

“Seed” 2000


Seed Masthead

SEED is meant to bring attention to the implications of Genetic Engineering, and the Genome project, in our near future. With the evolution of biotech and information technologies it’s not difficult to foresee a future where biological organisms are digitally designed and manipulated. The the casual shedding of a eyelash could lead to a reconstruction of your being at the genetic level, without your permission. (more…)