Legible Nature (2006)

Humankind has always defined "self" in relation to both the natural and the manufactured world around us. Increasingly, we see nature and technology merging in unprecedented ways; from the robotic and digital pets available in toy stores to the convincingly simulated animals and plants in movies. I am interested in the personal experiences and emotions motivated by this overlap of nature and technology. In my work, I create these moments in several different ways.

In one form, I take a naturally occurring phenomenon, like the flight pattern of birds, or the way water drops roll down a window pane, and first use computer algorithms to create a digital imitation of it. Once I have achieved a realistic simulation, I manipulate these algorithms, modifying the phenomenon to create a magical or surreal experience.

I also take a more sculptural approach, using inanimate objects to make creatures with needs and ...

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Humankind has always defined "self" in relation to both the natural and the manufactured world around us. Increasingly, we see nature and technology merging in unprecedented ways; from the robotic and digital pets available in toy stores to the convincingly simulated animals and plants in movies. I am interested in the personal experiences and emotions motivated by this overlap of nature and technology. In my work, I create these moments in several different ways.

In one form, I take a naturally occurring phenomenon, like the flight pattern of birds, or the way water drops roll down a window pane, and first use computer algorithms to create a digital imitation of it. Once I have achieved a realistic simulation, I manipulate these algorithms, modifying the phenomenon to create a magical or surreal experience.

I also take a more sculptural approach, using inanimate objects to make creatures with needs and demands. I add robotic elements to both repurposed and handmade objects, giving them voices and personalities. Through tactile and audio interactions with the objects, users develop immediate emotional bonds which can take many forms, such as tenderness, repulsion and joy.

In a third manner, I use existing and customized video editing software to deconstruct theatrical elements of cinema, such as time and choreography, to create allegorical new works with a painterly and a poetic sensibility. These pieces often begin with existing popular films and, while retaining clues as to their identity, isolate and emphasize one or more formal filmic element by using it as an artistic tool. I also use my own footage and create looped video narratives that address such issues as creation, faith, and doubt.

In each form, my work addresses the way people perceive and relate to their surrounding world and the myriad images populating the contemporary landscape. By taming and redefining natural phenomenon through programming, projection and imbuing inanimate objects with human characteristics, my work aims to create transcendent experiences that make viewers more aware of their mutable surroundings.

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  • Joan Collins | 3 years, 5 months ago

    Writing on René Magritte’s famous pairing of an image of a pipe with the phrase CECI N’EST PAS UNE PIPE, Michel Foucault argued that the artist creates an “unravelled calligram,” in which text and image operate not in terms of glib resemblance but as a ruined tautology.
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