Time Slice – Assessment 3

Repetition is a form that is used to create an emphasis.  When something is repeated several times, variation between each repetition is created.  Exposing what these variations can show in media art will often result in an array of outcomes.  I have taken this idea and used it to create my work Time Slice.

I have an interest in photography and photo manipulation, so I thought it would be a great opportunity to use these mediums in this assignment.  Having learnt a lot about repetition, variation and iteration in class I felt confident researching media art works that had used this technique.  I eventually came across an artwork that I thought was absolutely beautiful, Reticulated Time by Nobuhiro Nakanishi.  In this piece Nakanishi explores “the inspiring effects of nature and our perception of it.” (Hidebrand 2014).  It caused me to really start thinking about my perception of the world I was experiencing every day and I wanted to see if I could take this idea and create my own work.

I initially decided to take a photo every day of the same landscape, and I would overlay each image in an editing program, changing the opacity so that you could see each photo at the same time.  However, after the first few days it became clear that my images were reaching the “saturation point” very quickly, where there were too many repetitions and the piece was losing it’s meaning.  Wanting to keep to the same theme I decided I would try to create the interactive element that Nakanishi used in his work.

After a lot of research into whether I could access materials that would work and that I had access too, I found that I could print my images on transparent sheets.  I decided then that I would take 25 images and hang them in the gallery space I was allocated.  I chose to photograph the Wollongong Lighthouse as the audience members would hopefully be able to identify it as something they are familiar with.

I went up to the lighthouse 5 times over the space of a few days and I took 5 different sets of photos.  Initially, I was worried that I wasn’t there long enough to see variation as there wasn’t a lot of change between each photo.  We also had a lot of cloudy weather so a lot of colour change that would have occurred I missed.  On my last visit I stayed for a lot longer, from late afternoon to a night sky and I discovered that there was a lot of change in the photos.  I printed them off and have been able to successfully hang them.

My aim with this piece was to have my audience think about how they engage with time and the world around them.  It has taken a naturally occurring passing of time and visually displayed it as set and unchanging.  The audience can appreciate how quickly the world around us changes and can remove themselves from the situation and observe it in stilled time.  When looking at the piece from different angles, there is a different perception each time. The different perceptions can be said to represent how, individually, we each have a different interaction with the time and space in which we live.

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Artist Statement:

Time Slice – 2015

Chelsea Lowry

Everyday we interact with the world around us in countless ways.  Our senses are constantly interacting with our environment and yet I wonder whether we truly appreciate the world around us and how in only moments change comes and time moves on again.

Time has extensive effect on our engagement with all we see and do.  We can’t stop time, but we can stand back and take the time to observe how our experiences can change.

Time Slice is an interactive exploration of the effects of time.  It attempts to engage the viewer in a reproduced temporality which provides an understanding of our perception and involvement with time and space.  The continuity and fluidity of time is explored in this representation.  It attempts to showcase a real life experiment of lapsing time in an isolated environment that provokes thought into our interaction with our ever changing world.

When looking at the piece from different angles, there is a different perception each time. The different perceptions can be said to represent how, individually, we each have a different interaction with the time and space in which we live.

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Workshop 11: Project Consultations

This week we were working on our project idea development and progress.  We were spilt into our groups again and asked to look at specific parts of the work:

Elijah
Pitch:
Same idea, tweaked a little bit, more defined.
Last week:
Not much, trying to display it on an old tv.
Next week:
Changing code, story line is worked out, removing a lot of the story line elements – basics of video games from the time frame (when text based games were big).
What remains:
Find a screen and figure out how to get it to display, because the computer program won’t be compatible with the screen.

Laura:
Pitch:
Still using digital manipulation, creating some kind of variation of the northern lights, building ideas from the second assignment.
Last week:
Was working on the second assignment but has been thinking about it.  Is hoping to build from last assignment, if she cannot code it, it’d be a series of images.
What remains:
A lot.

My Pitch:
Is still the same, however I am going to display it differently.
Last Week:
I have taken more photos and edited them as planned, but I had a problem in the fact that my images seemed to reach the saturation point very quickly and started to look quite boring very quickly, so we brainstormed as to how I could change it.
Next Week:
I’ve decided to try to hang the images.  I need to go out, find something different to photograph (I think I might use the Wollongong lighthouse), and go to Officeworks to talk to someone about how I can print these images.
What Remains:
The presentation issues.

We then were asked to create a statement and criteria of our work.  As most of ours changed throughout the duration of the lesson, the ones we wrote are now not suited.  When I’m sure that this concept will work I will have mine.

Workshop 10: How Many Repetitions to Create Significant Variation?

In class we looked at Zimoun’s Installations and Sculputures Selected Works 3.6 and as a class were asked to look at:
What are the notable qualities, effects, affects of these works/this practice?
Electro-mechanical, simple
Manual, in-determinant
Emergent
Found objects, accessible/common – people can identify with it, cheap, taking something common and making it interesting (emergent quality is therefore surprising)
Variation in repetition
Space, scale – affects the sound, how interactive it is, big sounds; small processes, specific practice
You couldn’t have the same sound created if there was only one, the repetition creates this sounds
Cumulative emergent feel
The mechanical element is shown (it’s exposed), it’s all disclosed, there is no illusion here, it changes the focus of the art work
Amplification of movement
Precision
Mechanical at a small level emerges at a natural feel (the objects can help to make a larger scaled sound

We then looked at repetition and how many times something can be repeated before a saturation point where the quality is lost and applied this ideal to different works and asked:
How many repetitions are in this?
What would happen if we had less?
What would happen if we had more?
How does repetition work to make us think feel?

Richard Long, Line Mae by Walking, 1967
How many repetitions are in this? A lot, but it’s the correct amount.
What would happen if we had less? You wouldn’t be able to see it, the line wouldn’t have the same definition.
What would happen if we had more?  It wouldn’t have caught the light in the right way, which could change the appearance and the texture.
How does repetition work to make us think feel? It makes it relatable, the audience could create the same thing, it’s emergent because the viewer could physically create the same work, you don’t need anything to actually create it.  Like Sol LeWitt, the individual creating the work creates variation.  There’s variation in the task and in the “performative nature”.

Alvin Lucier, I am sitting in a room, 1969
How many repetitions are in this? 32
What would happen if we had less? The whole work wouldn’t really achieve its goal, if it didn’t have enough repetitions it wouldn’t distort.
What would happen if we had more? It would start to lose its purpose; it would sound bizarre.
How does repetition work to make us think feel? The recording of the repetition uses the structure of the room to create the intended sound, which is the sound of the room itself.  The process is very engaging because you have to listen to the duration of the piece to understand the process.

Canzona, I am sitting in a room, 2010
How many repetitions are in this? 1000
What would happen if we had less? The distortion wouldn’t be an extreme, he saturates it.
What would happen if we had more? It’d be even worse.
How does repetition work to make us think feel? This creates a different outcome. This video demonstrates how digital repetition can have a degenerative affect on the project.  This repetition ruins the affect of the first work.

Ai Wei Wei, Bang, 2010-2013, 886 antique stools, installation view, 2013
How many repetitions are in this? 886
What would happen if we had less? The spatial element that the piece would be changed, this work’s purpose is about connecting families/generations, if there weren’t enough it wouldn’t make sense or be as powerful.
What would happen if we had more?  The spatial element would be lost here too as there would be an overwhelming amount, it would change the affect.  Reaches the saturation point.  You’re overtaken by the scale and lose the meaning, much like how the stools have been replaced by mass production.
How does repetition work to make us think feel? The sense of space is created through the correct number of stools.  The perception of the stools depends on where you are within the work, it is interactive because you are immersed in the work. Family tree, stools are connected, emergent quality at certain points, intentional, there seems to be flow, all unique.

We were then split into groups to discuss our major projects where we learnt what each member was doing:
Elijah:
Text based adventure game, it’s going to play sounds based on the text, it’s going to be projected into a dark room.  Keyboard connected to a projector that is displaying the process.
It’s an interest of Elijah’s, he plays a lot of different games so wanted to create one.

Laura:
Had a rough idea to image trace on Illustrator and manipulate it somehow, it would be cartoony and may have the opacity changed, then she’d put it in processing, do something, save it, and then start over in Illustrator and repeat it.

My idea is based on research I did this week.  I found inspiration in Layers by Nobuhiro Nakanishi, where he hangs photographs of landscapes over time.  I plan to do this, but using image manipulation.  I’ve been taking photos and will overlay each photo, changing the opacity of each layer so you can see them all at once.  I’m just not sure how this will look so I have to see how it goes.

Workshop 9: Back to the Physical World

In class, we were asked to research and analyse Maya Lin’s Systematic Landscapes (2009).

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What are the representations inherent in the work…and what questions do they give rise to?
It is representing a topographic map.  The repetition of the lines creates meaning, it is a signifier.  We interpret those lines on a two dimensional map and understand that those lines actually represent a three dimensional landscape.  She has put this onto a three dimensional material so that her audience can interpret it visually.  Topographic maps only have meaning when they are in context so she has separated each one and is essentially destroying that notion.  However, it is still effective because it is a 3D piece, so we can still receive this information without it being connected.

It shows the same pattern repeated on different pieces of wood that are cut differently, however it appears that they come together to form one large “landscape”.  A question that can therefore be raised is why are the sections separated in the first place?  This could potentially be used to show what modern infrastructure is doing to our natural landscapes, like highways.

What is the experience of the work from the perspective of the human body?
I feel like the way the work is perceived can change based on how you are looking at it, the different “perspectives” change how the work looks.  It makes it more immersive for the audience as they can walk amongst the pieces; the piece ranges from waist to chest height.

What role does repetition/variation play in the form of the work? What does it point to, what does it reveal?
She has repeated the process again and again in a different medium throughout her collection.  You can see the variation in each one.  We don’t see the landscape until it is broken down, through the process of data.  The process of the brain interpreting the data is broken, particularly through the scale manipulation.  We are seeing the worlds natural processes through data collection.  Breaking it up allows you to see the similarities and differences between each block.

Is the repetition in the creation of the work, or in the final form of the work?
Both.  It is in the data collection that she has used but in every cut of the map; the blocks are glued together by particle boards that have the top edges cut to match a topographic line.  There is repetition and variation in each sheet.

Physical Computing/Arduino
In class we were asked to look at works that all draw physical inputs through a technological device (sensor or camera) into a programmed system (micro-controller—tiny computers, or computer with running software programs). The software programs determine how these inputs will be processed and translated into forms of physical outputs.  We looked at Céleste Boursier-Mougenot at Barbican Centre, London 2010.

Can you identify:
The Inputs:
The birds, the electric guitar strings.
The Outputs:
The sound from the guitars.
The algorithm/process that determine how the input is translated to the output?
The birds are moving the strings around and are creating an input signal for the guitar amps, which turns the physical movement of the birds into electrical signals which are then used to produce sound (output).

Assessment 2: Computer Coding Exercises

Iteration is using repetition, but improving each step based on the previous one.  I incorporated this definition into my research and went looking for art works that use this process.  I came across Shannon Rankin, an artist who explores the “connections among geological and biological processes, patterns in nature, geometry and anatomy.” (Rankin, 2015) Rankin explains how her work invites her audience to examine their relationship with each other and the world we share (2015).  Her piece “Germinate” caught my attention.

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Shannon Rankin, 2010, Germinate, map, acrylic, pins, adhesive, paper, 30 x 30 inches, Gallery Voss

The position of the circles in “Germinate” were not on an x and y axis and I thought it would be interesting to see if I could code the ellipses to be positioned differently.  I spent a lot of time researching a code that could do this.  I found one by Jim Bumgardner that used a golden ratio, a number that is based on patterns in nature, which is one of Rankin’s ideas.  I decided to use a select range of colours and opacity to reflect a world map.  I incorporated a fudge into my code to slightly change the ellipse size randomly each time it is run, to reflect Rankin’s ideas of how human interaction fluctuates.

This was the result:

 

The Code:

void setup(){ // This defines the environment settings
size(700,700); // This sets the resolution of the sketch
background(255); // This sets the background colour
noLoop(); // This stops processing from continually executing the instruction in draw()
}
color [] bunchOfColours = { // This is a palette of pre-defined colours, with a randomised range of pre-defined opacity
color(255,204,204,random(40,255)),
color(204,255,255,random(40,255)),
color(153,255,153,random(40,255)),
color(255,255,204,random(40,255)),
color(245,35,200,random(40,255))};

int nbr_circles = 500; // This is the number of circles in the spiral

/* When making a spiral, as each point is drawn, the value of the larger radius is changed.*/

float phi = (sqrt(5)+1)/2 – 1; // Golden ratio
/* “The Golden Ratio is a special number found by dividing a line into two parts so that the longer part divided by the smaller part is also equal to the whole length divided by the longer part.” (Hom, 2013) This creates a spiral. */
float golden_angle = phi * TWO_PI; // Golden angle – this is an irrational angle that packs the circles closely together

float lg_rad = width*3; // This is the larger radius size of the spiral, it makes the spiral bigger and smaller by multiplying the width
float lg_area = sq(lg_rad) * PI; // This squares the radius to make the whole spiral bigger

float sm_area = lg_area / nbr_circles; // This is the area of the little circles (the large radius divided by the nbr_circles), but they don’t fill the space properly
float sm_rad = sqrt( sm_area / PI ); // This is related to the equation area = pi*rsquared, it makes the little circle’s radius’ smaller

float fudge = random (1, 1.7);
float adj_sm_diameter = sm_rad * 1.5 * fudge;
/* This is a fudge factor which stops the circles overlapping by drawing them slightly smaller,
this is because the circles don’t actually fill the space properly.
I have changed the fudge factor to be selcted from a randomisd range of pre-defined fudge so that the circles are slightly different each time */

void draw () { // This executes/draws the instructions contained in the curly brackets
float cx = width/2;
float cy = height/2;
//This positions the circle in the middle of the sketch

for (int i = 1; i <= nbr_circles; ++i) {
// This is saying, if i is less than the nbr_cricles (500), draw an ellipse, it continually executes the instructions contained in the {} until i reaches 500
float angle = i*golden_angle; // This is setting the angle of the spiral; it’s doing this by multiplying i by the golden angle
float cum_area = i*sm_area; // This is multiplying i’s value by the area of the little circles, if it doesn’t the spiral is smaller and the circles are bigger
float spiral_rad = sqrt( cum_area / PI ); // This creates the value of the spiral’s radius, without it there is no spiral
float x = cx + cos(angle) * spiral_rad; // This gives the x axis a value so the ellipses can be drawn, but it needs to be mutiplied to have the spiral shape
float y = cy + sin(angle) * spiral_rad; // This gives the y axis a value so the ellipses can be drawn, but it needs to be mutiplied to have the spiral shape
// This is because Processing uses the x and y axis to give an object a position, so without it, an object cannot be drawn.

fill( bunchOfColours[(int)random(0,4)] ); // This selects the colours from the array
ellipse(x, y,adj_sm_diameter, adj_sm_diameter); // This draws the ellipse

}
}

Processing Screen Shots:

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References:
Bumgardner, J 2011, Circles, Spirals and Sunflowers, krazydad, 17 October, viewed 18 September 2015, http://krazydad.com/tutorials/circles_js/

Bumgardner, J 2011, Example 9: Space Filling Phyllotaxy Sprial, krazydad, 17 October, viewed 18 September 2015, http://krazydad.com/tutorials/circles_js/showexample.php?ex=phyllo_equal

Deleflie, E 2015, Workshop Week 8: Some code tricks to play with, MEDADADA, weblog post, 16 September, viewed 17 September 2015, http://medadada.net/workshop-week-8-some-code-tricks-to-play-with/

Hom, E 2013, What is the Golden Ratio?, livescience, weblog, 24 June, viewed 21 September 2015, http://www.livescience.com/37704-phi-golden-ratio.html

Rankin, S 2010, Germinate, map, acrylic, pins, adhesive, paper, Gallery Voss, from Shannon Rankin, viewed 18 September 2015, http://shannonrankin.com/artwork/2429650_Germinate.html

Rankin, S 2015, Shannon Rankin, viewed 21 September 2015, http://shannonrankin.com/home.html

Workshop 8: Further Coding

This week we continued our development of coding.  We were all using a code that contained an executed code of the artworks we had been looking at in Week 5.  As I had been given Bridget Rileys Encircling Discs with Black, I decided it would be interesting to manipulate this code to see if I could make changes and understand how I could’ve created the work a few weeks ago.  I discovered how to make more than two circles and a better way to have a colour palette (an array).

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I began using this array to randomly select a few colours for each circle every time it would play.  To show the difference between a select pallet and random colours I’ve only used the specific range in the outside circle.

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I have an idea of what I would like to do for our second assessment and I would like to incorporate both the ellipses and the colour array into it.

Workshop 6: Repetition & Variation

In groups in class we were asked to look at a work and how repetition and variation might hold meaning in a work.  We were given Canzona, I am sitting in a room, 2010, which is a modern day representation of the work by Alvin Lucier, I am sitting in a room, 1969.  In the piece a work is presented and then manipulated over and over until it becomes intelligible.

How is abstraction used in artwork? (Think of Andy Warhol’s banana and other artworks ‘faxed’ using the Human Fax Machine in week 2).
Lucier: The nature and the resonance of the room result in the outcome.
Conzona: The initial recording, uploading, ripping and converting to mp4.

How is variation used in an artwork?
Lucier: He used the abstraction to smooth out irregularities in his voice.  He expressed the nature of the room, it is created using the physical setting he was in.
Conzona: He did the opposite, he used the conversion to distort the nature of the video.  He expressed the nature of the process.  The setting he was in wasn’t relevant.

One way that variation has been used in art is through iteratively copying a work. The below works explore such variation. That is, copies are made of the original work over and over again. Each time a copy is made, it is degraded. What are the effects?
The work becomes less natural/human and more mechanical.
Lucier: The first one reduces impurities and creates minimalist tap music (another form of art).
Conzona: Through the process of converting, impurities are created.  It destroys the ambient concept of the first work.  The artist is also never truly removed for the work, unlike the first piece.

What thoughts do they inspire in the audience?
You can do the same thing with two different works and it can create different outcomes. There are two emergent aesthetics created.

What do these processes say about the technologies used and our relationship to them?
Analogue processes are more natural and generative, whereas digital is more destructive and degenerative.

Workshop 5: Reproduce (the graphical idea of) an artwork in Processing

In class, we were asked to re-create an artwork in Processing.  Our group was given Bridget Riley’s Encircling Discs with Black:

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We decided that the abstract of the artwork would be: On a black background, draw a grid of discs, the centre of each disc should be white with coloured circles surrounding the white centre.  These colours need to come from a similar pallet.  The circles do no overlap one another.

In our group we had someone who knew how to code, but it used a lot of aspects that I didn’t really understand so I tired to re-created the picture myself based on what I’d learnt.

I used the code that we created in class as a starting point for this art work.  I added a few elements and manipulated it to be a bit more like the artwork. This included having a circle within a circle, making the centre white and having the other colours randomised.  This was the outcome:

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Workshop 4: Abstraction/Iterations

Discuss Lewitt’s Wall drawings:

Where is the art work? (instructions, execution, finished product, all, or none?). Which is most likely to be understood as a commodity?
LeWitt had a very different idea on what a work of art was; his concept was that the idea itself could be the artwork.  However, the art work can come to life in the interpretation of the instructions, so I think that the art work can be found in each step of it’s creation.  The Instructions would be the commodity as they are the product which gives the artwork “life”.

Would you say that his art is accessible? (explain)
LeWitt made the instructions so that people could interpret and create the artwork themselves, so in that way it is accessible.  However, when my group tried to follow the instructions we could not decipher them and therefore could not create the desired artwork, so in that way the art was harder to represent.

How might Lewitt’s work be compared to how an architect works?
LeWitt prepares a plan for someone before they attempt to fulfill the plans, which is like how an architect will create a plan and hand it over to a building team to complete the work.

Do you think Lewitt hopes for variation in the execution of each set of instructions? Does he control the variation?
I think he did.  His whole concept challenged the idea of what an artwork really was.  He deliberately wrote vague instructions so there was a difference in each production of the work.  I think he can control the variation to an extent, but only as much as he put in the instructions.  An individual will interpret the instructions uniquely and that is the beauty of his instructions.

Is there such a thing as a wrong execution?
I don’t think there is a “wrong” execution as the work is supposed to come from interpretation.  However, LeWitt did certify works if the finished product was done correctly, which means there is a “correct way” to do it.

Could his instructions be understood as a system? What would that imply?
I think they can be.  Once the instructions have been interpreted they could be re-written as a code.  This means that yes, there is technically a correct way to perform the instructions and it could be recreated by a computer, however, the aesthetic of the art work could be lost as it can lie in the interpretation.

How does he write the instructions? Do you think he creates the drawings first, then turns them into instructions?
I think LeWitt would have started with a small sketch and then converted it into instructions, I don’t think he would have done the proper drawing as set out in his instructions.

Is it easy to write instructions to create aesthetically engaging artworks? if not, why not?
I think it is a difficult procedure that would require practice.  Ensuring that you have simple instructions that can be easily interpreted is important, but it is also essential that the aesthetic of the image is not lost, as this is essential what makes the artwork. 

How would you go about creating instructions that result in aesthetically engaging artworks?
In class we were asked to essentially do the same as LeWitt, turn an artwork into instructions and have it reproduced.  I found that it was very difficult.  I struggled to explain the artwork simply.  The instructions that I did write were quite complicated as I tried to explain it in a lot of detail.  The drawing made from my instructions actually wasn’t that bad and did have similarities to the original.  I think if you can capture the aesthetic of the drawing in your instructions you do not need to be as in depth and it will come out in the reader’s interpretation.

The drawing I was asked to create instructions for:


Discuss the notion of abstraction. Abstracting a visual aesthetic. Can a system contain an abstraction?
Abstraction is when an art piece breaks away from traditional representation.  I don’t think a system could contain an accidental abstraction, you would have to code the idea into the initial system.  As systems are straight forward and will not run with an error, you couldn’t have a warped version of a system.

After trying our hand at knitting we were asked to research and discuss:

How is knitting different to programming?
Knitting is different to programming as you are doing the reverse.  A person interprets a pattern and then produces a produces a product, whereas programming is taking a product and turning it into a code (or in this case a pattern).

How is knitting similar to programming?
Knitting is still similar however, in the way that a task is broken down into a code.  There are parallels with the procedures too, for example if you have an error in a code the rest won’t work, which is like knitting, if you make a mistake, you must go back and change it.

Research/ Discuss:
Knitting as programmable activity is not the only example when a physical act or craft is related to a computational technology. Babbage’s idea to use Jacquard’s Loom’s punched card in his Analytical Engine and Hollerith tabulating machines’ (precursors to IBM) development of the punched card system are two examples one processing method draw on another.

Can you think of or find other examples?
Weaving, shorthand, crocheting or typing.

Do you think there is correlation between these activities? If so, what are the parallels and why do you think they exist?
I think that each activity has a “hidden” understanding behind it (there is a coded understanding).  They all use a process that requires prior knowledge to be able to perform the task. For example, with shorthand, you have to know what each symbol means to be able to read and write it. 

Is there something common in the languages we use to communicate instructions? What are these commonalities?
With the way instructions can be coded, they are usually a simplistic version of language.  Using the example of shorthand again, with Pitman’s Shorthand, strokes are used in the place of consonant sounds and vowels are indicated by dots or dashes.  Crocheting uses the same techniques, for example Ch is chain, Sl st is a slip stitch and Sc is a single crochet.

When communicating instructions, are we speaking like machines? Or do machines speak like us?
I don’t think simplifying a language is becoming a machine, in the way that speaking another language isn’t speaking like a machine, it’s just a different way of communicating information.  However, I think it is a fine line and there would be examples where instructions could be using “machine languages”.

Assessment 1: Analogue Coding Exercise – Coding and Codification

Technological determinism is a daunting concept that has been discussed throughout society for many years. Harcup (2014) describes it as a perspective that social change is largely determined by the invention, development, and application of technology. Technology is a fantastic development in our society, however this idea that our lives are impacted so heavily by it is a concept that not everyone is comfortable with. Contemporary artists can therefore be influenced by these cultural contexts. Tully Arnot is an Australian artist who has challenged the ideas of technology’s impact on our society today. His piece, “Lonely Sculpture”, created in 2014, blurs the line between man and machine.

Neil Postman is an American media theorist who gave a speech titled “Five Things We Need to Know About Technological Change” in 1998. In his speech he discussed the impacts of technology, one of his ideas is that media tends to become mythic, it is perceived as part of the natural order and it can control more of our lives than is good for us (1998). Modern technologies have advanced so far in the 21st century, that revolutionary work has started to become the norm. Communication, the way we send and receive media, how we seek entertainment and how we socialise has all been coded into technology; we live a large percentage of our lives through a screen. “What I am saying is that our enthusiasm for technology can turn into a form of idolatry and our belief in its beneficence can be a false absolute” (Postman 1998).

Tully Arnot is a contemporary Australian artist whose work casts an interesting perspective on the way in which we perceive technology. When explaining his own work he said that he has “always been interested in how powerful relationships with objects can be. The objects that we interact with today are increasingly complex and the technology used in them really opens them up for seemingly deeper connections” (Underbelly Arts, 2015). This is a concept that is shown in his is artwork “Lonely Sculpture”. In this piece a silicon-based finger is positioned above an iPhone with the dating application, Tinder, open. According to the tags on Arnot’s Vimeo video, the piece is comprised of a servomotor, microcontroller, programming, cast silicone, Perspex, cable ties, glue, electronics, an iPhone 4 and the Tinder app (2014). The finger is “connected to a servo which endlessly swipes yes, looking for something but not finding anything” (Underbelly Arts 2015); the finger is continually accepting every person that appears on the screen.

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Tully Arnot, 2014, Lonely Sculpture, online video, unfinished, un-exhibited artwork.

According to the Seattle Robotics Society, the servo that controls the finger is a device commonly used in robotics. A servo has an output shaft that can be positioned in specific angles, the angle tells the machine how far to turn (2015). ElectroSome explains that a microcontroller sends a coded Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) signal along a control wire to the shaft. The duration of the PWM tells the machine how far to turn (2014). Arnot has worked out the perfect PWM needed for the finger to continually press the button on the iPhone.

When looking at “Lonely Sculpture” and society, the concept that our social lives have been coded into technology is explored. Postman’s ideas can be compared to Arnot’s artwork; one being that technological change is a compromise and that culture will always pay a price for technology (1998). “Lonely Sculpture” addresses this idea; society now spends a large part of their social lives seeking a partner on an application on their phones. The advantages of online dating is that you can successfully pair with someone you may never have had the opportunity of meeting, however the disadvantages highlight “the disconnection and isolation that can be found in entertainment media” (Letourneau 2015). The machine is showing that right now, if you’re currently on Tinder, the match you might’ve just made is with a mechanical finger.

Tinder has changed the way people socialise and Arnot’s piece goes one step further, showing how his simple machine also impacts how the application works. Cascone talks about Tinder and how there was always a basic assumption that there was a real, living, human being swiping back at you, but Arnot’s piece has effectively destroyed that notion (2014).

Arnot has said that the piece has been criticised by people who see it as “the disconnectedness of technology, which it is, but it is also an embrace of it. At the end of the day it’s a functional object that allows you to outsource what could be seen as a mundane task” (Underbelly Arts 2015). This ties in with another of Postman’s idea that embedded in every technology; there is a powerful idea that is often hidden (1998). This idea explores how technology makes our minds, bodies and senses work and react to the world and how it manipulates our emotional and intellectual reactions. Tinder is certainly an example of how a technology has coded our social lives. Today, there is a different idea on how to find partners altogether; having a conversation on Tinder, sending a private message on Facebook and actually texting on a mobile phone are completely different concepts and each is weighted with a different level of significance.

“Lonely Sculpture” is a piece that shows both the positive and negative affects of how our society is being shaped by technology. The app’s description is “Tinder is a fun way to connect with new and interesting people around you…if someone likes you back, it’s a match!” (Tinder 2015). The impact of the app is shown in the final line of the description; “Chat with your matches and get to know them inside of Tinder” (Tinder 2015). The use of inside resonates Arnot’s point that “Tinder is a great example of how technology allows us an unprecedented abundance of connections, an opportunity to connect with thousands of potential partners, but then that connection is so shallow and disconnected” (Underbelly Arts, 2015). If we start to live our entertainment lives through coded programming, we may be at a danger of losing any personable characteristics and individuality that makes us who we are.

References:

Arnot, 2014, Lonely Sculpture, online video, May 2014, Vimeo, viewed 14th August 2015, https://vimeo.com/93852159

Cascone, S 2014, Somewhere Out There, a Sculpture Is Surfing Tinder, artnet news, viewed August 14th 2015, https://news.artnet.com/in-brief/somewhere-out-there-a-sculpture-is-surfing-tinder-206315

George, L 2014, Interfacing Servo Motor with PIC Microcontroller, electroSome, viewed 19th August 2015, https://electrosome.com/servo-motor-pic-microcontroller/

Harcup, T 2014, ‘Technological Determinism’, in A Dictionary Of Journalism, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Letourneau, L 2015, BECOMING QUASI-DIVINE: REPRESENTING SELF IN THE WORLD, Runway Australian Experimental Art, viewed 14th August 2015, http://runway.org.au/becoming-quasi-divine-representing-self-world/

Postman, N 1998, ‘Five Things We Need to Know About Technological Change’, 28th March, viewed 14th August 2015, http://web.cs.ucdavis.edu/~rogaway/classes/188/materials/postman.pdf

Rad S & Mateen J, 2015, Tinder Inc., version 4.5.0, mobile app, viewed 17th August 2015, https://itunes.apple.com/au/app/tinder/id547702041?mt=8

Seattle Robotics Society 2015, What’s a servo, viewed 15th August 2015, http://www.seattlerobotics.org/guide/servos.html

Underbelly Arts 2015, Q&A WITH UA15’S TULLY ARNOT, viewed 14th August 2015, http://underbellyarts.com.au/qa-with-ua15s-tully-arnot/