Chimera Obscura (2004)

Chimera Obscura is a net-based tele-robotic work inspired by the historical anxieties, eugenic fantasies, and emerging realities evolving from the frontier of contemporary genetics research. The project is envisioned as an exploration into the nature of human discovery and the social behavior of collaboration/competition as exemplified by the Human Genome Project. Crossing the boundary between gallery installation and Internet art, the work is constructed around a tele-robotic agent that Internet visitors use to navigate and decode a highly complex maze designed from a human thumbprint located in the museum gallery. The online visitor becomes a hybrid cyborg sojourner through the maze -- the webcam acting as their eyes, the robot as their legs as they transmit their agency across the Internet and into the gallery, remotely controlling the robot that navigates the maze. The project employs a mutative game structure, allowing online visitors to leave a virtual trail of media ...

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Chimera Obscura is a net-based tele-robotic work inspired by the historical anxieties, eugenic fantasies, and emerging realities evolving from the frontier of contemporary genetics research. The project is envisioned as an exploration into the nature of human discovery and the social behavior of collaboration/competition as exemplified by the Human Genome Project. Crossing the boundary between gallery installation and Internet art, the work is constructed around a tele-robotic agent that Internet visitors use to navigate and decode a highly complex maze designed from a human thumbprint located in the museum gallery. The online visitor becomes a hybrid cyborg sojourner through the maze -- the webcam acting as their eyes, the robot as their legs as they transmit their agency across the Internet and into the gallery, remotely controlling the robot that navigates the maze. The project employs a mutative game structure, allowing online visitors to leave a virtual trail of media memes (video, audio, text, etc.) behind for others to read, duplicate, or delete in the search for a unique sequence that will decode the maze. The ghost of the minotaur roams the maze in the form of random mathematical algorithms that yield mutative forces to the memes in the database, frustrating attempts at an easy, linear solution. The process itself is also left open for the visitors; they are not urged to collaborate or compete by the artists; but they find their own way. In the spirit of experimentation, Chimera does not pre-suppose either notion; but creates a social forum in which people play these ideas out and the work evolves.

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