COLLISIONcollective

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*                        For engineers that moonlight as artists and artists that moonlight as engineers                                         *
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“Come Closer”

Proximity sensor and computer-controlled video, length indefinite
2012
“Come Closer”

In this sensor-linked interactive video, a character on a small screen pleads with and taunts visitors as they move through the surrounding space. The proximity sensor triggers the character to give one of fourteen canned monologues depending on whether people are moving closer or farther away from the screen. When the room is empty, the character calls out “is anyone there?” When visitors enter, the character urges them to come closer, yet when visitors approach, the character becomes upset and tells them to back away. He apologizes and begs them to return. This cycle and its various permutations continue indefinitely.

The interaction aims to amuse and frustrate, recreating communication disconnects that occur in real life and when technology replaces human interaction. The character is never satisfied; he is needy and lonely if the viewer is far away, defensive and claustrophobic if the viewer is too close. Yet despite his strong emotions, the character is clearly not a “real person.” The repetition, jumpy editing cuts and Max Headroom-like aesthetic—the character wears a suit and a bald cap in front of a green screen—emphasize the artificiality of the preprogrammed responses and point to everyday corollaries such as phone trees and GPS devices. As technology becomes more sophisticated, it becomes more humanlike. This irony/dichotomy is the content and form of this project. 

Wonder

proximity sensor, 54 servo motors, Arduino microprocessor, MDF panel, acrylic, house paint, spray paint, ink and graphite
2011
Artwork by [user-name]
Artwork by [user-name]
Artwork by [user-name]

Wonder (2011) is an interactive, kinetic sculpture that is brought to life by the movement of others. From a distance, the white dots appear to be a constellation, and the work remains static. As a person approaches, the motors suddenly come to life and the dots slowly coalesce to spell the word 'wonder'. However, much like a pointillist painting, the word is illegible when viewed up close. Because of that, it ideally requires two or more people to participate. The person approaching or ‘wondering’ becomes the artist/performer, physically bringing the work to fruition with their movements. Onlookers are given the ability to see the ‘wonder’ in the making, both literally and metaphorically. The typically passive act of looking becomes a physically active performance, and people in the vicinity are able to watch and be entertained by the spectacle of it. It is the sculpture's playful nature that really interests me. Whether or not viewers ever discover the word ‘wonder’ within the work is not important. Meaning is constructed and elaborated collectively, through a shared and hopefully memorable experience. 

Wonderlust

Polymer clay, acrylic mirror, acrylic panels, proximity detectors, LEDs, pager motors, ultrasonic water foggers, H0 scale figures
2012
Wonderlust
Wonderlust - detail

Wonderlust is a glittering, mysterious, miniature cavern. The floor of the cavern is colonised by vague organic shapes shrouded in a gently moving mist. From the ceiling of the cavern hang a cluster of immaculate mirrored rectangular bars of varying lengths. Bright lights shine shine up from the floor but are dimmed by the mists. Visitors notice the resemblance of the suspended bars to data representations like histograms. The column lengths suggest a measurement of an aspect of the shapes found directly below them. As visitors approach the piece, their curious examination triggers movement of tiny observers contemplating their environment. As they spin, the observers kick up the mists both hiding and revealing aspects of the cavern.

The piece suggests a dialog between Nature and one of the ways in which we attempt to understand it - scientific study. Do we diminish the subject by reducing it to numbers? Does the abstraction really reveal anything more? Is wonder lost or gained when we try to satisfy our curiosities?

This piece is part of a series of works I have made exploring the value we place in scientific discovery and what consequences such reverence might have for making progress - either in deepening and elaborating a paradigm or shifting to a new one. Previous works show data and models rendered either verbatim or abstractly in gild, glitter and rhinestones while all other explanatory information is lost.

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