The Human Database (2010)

Curated by ckershek
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My exhibition takes on a similar aesthetic theme as does Patchwork Girl, with a similar internal theme that Mary Shelley exhibits in her artwork. My show uses elements of the human body, such as thoughts, internal dialogue, and body parts, in order to visually arouse an emotional reaction from the audience. As I will continue to explain my artwork, my hope is to show how the human database “the brain” has very similar to elements of database, topology, space and time that new media has and can be explained in similar terms that Borges, Aerseth, Viola, McCloud, Manovich, Mary Shelley, and Daniel use to explain these very complicated constituents of technology. The first artwork I chose was "Time spent Alone". To me, this is a perfect example of Bill Viola's work on the perception of space and time. This artwork highlights what the human perception and thought process is like, while at the same time displaying the same form of internal struggle that Patchwork Girl showed in its narrative. As Bill Viola writes, "Humans see life as discrete parts, periods, sections, or highlights." In this piece it becomes quite apparent of how malleable the human mind can be. Our thoughts are scattered and incomplete all the time. We are capable of remembering good times or bad times depending on the situation, but even more so, we are capable of forgetting or "editing"(as Viola likes to say) memories in our life as we wish to remember it. With space (our memories) and time (one day to the next), we are able to manipulate reality. "Time Spent Alone" is an example of how one chooses to pick the thoughts that we experience day to day. I view the art of "Time Spent Alone" as a visualization of a persons thoughts. There are dark thoughts of the world, represented here by the picture of the city as a piece of string is unraveling it. Other times in life, we have dreams, and even hopes or projections for the future. And many times we are stunted by the fact there is so much out there to discover. It is difficult to know where to start, especially since we know we’ll never have the time finish figuring out all the politics of the world. Although much of the time we can search our memories to find the bad ones, we can always remember the good, which Viola describes as the "blessing of editing". "Brandon" the second piece of artwork I chose is a further projection of memory. It creates two associations between two things: the work "JERK" and the name "Brandon". By initially presenting the audience with these two simple associations, we are fooled by the actual meaning of the art, which once the work is explored, it is learned that "Brandon" has much more meaning than the association between the two memories implies. "Brandon" is actually a commemoration for a person named Brandon who lost his life due to transphobia. "Associations,” Viola describes, "are ways in which people are able to connect one thing to another which in turn, creates memories." However "Brandon" is an example of how we have a choice of what we choose to associate to people and things. The social-construction of phobias associated to people is one example. The ability to edit the associations we have in life is a mechanism that was designed to keep the human body sane. If we didn’t have the ability to forget, we would all simply go crazy. Viola’s work on how the distinction is critical when differentiating between the human brain, which uses association for memory, compared to computers and technology, which uses a sort of file system as a memory. It is important to identify these two things because although it can be considered that the human database and technological database are much the same, and they are, the difference that file systems and associations have is also an important distinction to consider. The next art piece I chose was called "las2enancht:t:2". "Las2enancht:2" is a picture that looks like neon brainwaves wandering in no definitive order; going every which direction, as if the brain is a labyrinth of knowledge. Brains are similar to computers in that inside the computer, there is a database and at the same time it can create a piece of work that is a narrative. This is similar to the brain in that the brain is like a database that can create ideas that are linear and narrative, or not. Databases and Brains are alike in that, it is up to the human or player to decide which direction they chose to go and at the same time they are not destined to end up any certain place, as if were an algorithmic game/life. However, at the same time, the brain and database can both be considered linear. Manovich describes narrative as a "structured, organized method of accessing data. “The ‘user’ of a narrative is traversing a database, following links between its records as established by the database’s creator.” Manovich's ideas of links between its records are similar to Bill Violas ideas of space and time linked by associations. In this way a brain can be thought of as groups of memories, which are accessed in a database, where the memories are linear because they are concrete and not changeable. Memories are the past and what one chooses to remember is simply the "transversable records as established by the database's creator"(Manovich). The human brain is completely user functional(a term Espen Aerseth uses in his paper "Nonlinearity and Literary Theory" to describe ways in which users can change parts of the database). This is similar to the way humans are unable to choose our exact destiny but why we can chose the path in the direction we want to take. The brain is like a "Garden of Forking Paths" that enables humans to maintain "a world of many possibilities" and it is up to the participant to carve ones own destiny. "Las2enancht:2" brings these ideas to real life by creating a visual of what brain database could look like. The next art piece I chose is called "The Ghost of Vaneevar Bush Hacked My Server". I picked this piece of artwork highlighting some Vaneevar Bush’s great achievements not only because we studied him and because he is a huge influence to my work, but largely because of my belief that if Bush were able to, he would warn us that technology is leading in the wrong direction. The author of “The Ghost of Vaneevar Bush Hacked My Server” wrote in his description of the picture an side that said, “one-day, an image of 0’s and 1;s appeared on his web server. He copied the image onto a white screen and it created a picture that looked incredibly like Vaneevar Bush. The image blinks on and off and now haunts his server, ominously appearing randomly.” With the "Googilization" and the corruption of Google Street View that Geert Lovink and Jon Raufman warn us about, I believe the "Ghost of Vannevar Bush" to be a sign that with the corporatism of our world, centered around computer technology, we may soon have a dark future caused by the internet which the creator of the computer warns us about. However, because as McCloud writes, there is no way to see the future in film, or life, we can never be sure where the future of technology will lead us. What I do know however is that Vannevar Bush would have a large appreciation for not only Patchwork Girl for its visual aesthetics and its technological type look (a second reason why I picked this piece). Although Bush did not approve of the internet because it is a complicated, unorganized mess, he was indeed a scientist interested in technology. And so, I believe that even if Bush would not have liked the premise of Patchwork Girl appearing on the web, he would have liked the aesthetics of Patchwork Girl, especially since the picture "The Ghost of Vaneevar Bush" obviously takes on a similar "Frankenstein" look and body part-like theme that Patchwork Girl does. "A Less Crowded Place" my last chosen piece also reminds me of Vaneevar Bush's work in many ways. I feel like the human body is one of the most, if not THE most technical thing ever created, and it is more complicated than even the Memex. However at the same time, human beings are simple and mundane, differing greatly from the complex internet that Bush greatly disliked. In this form, Bush would have held an appreciation for the human body, as I do. In addition, the human body is a machine, which was intended to be used in a healthy manner. However with the developing creations in technology, the human body is being poisoned with drug manufacturing, evil social constructions marketed on the net harms the mental state of humans, and the tumultuous impact of human attacking one another is elevated by improper use of the computer. While humans were meant to be treated equally, respected, and loved, technology has much of the time turned us against one another especially in the age of war. Similar to the memex, which was intended for the use of calculations, it has now been manipulated by technology to be an evil aid in war technology, corrupting human equality, and perpetuating social constructions through technologies like the internet and television. I like this piece because the author describes its meaning as “an attempt to create a place where there is still space available for ideas, art and creation; conversation and collaboration; listening and viewing, free from interruption…Everyday we are surrounded by background noise and interference pushing into our foreground. Our individual space and time seem to be compressed, to be closing in on us. The internet and other communication technologies are central to this, invading our space and crowding us out. The rush of information occupies the time and space within which our own ideas should be emerging and evolving." It is good to be remind ourselves that although at many times humans can be overcome with technology, greed, sadness, and absurdity surrounded by technology, the human body is such a peaceful creation amidst the raucous. We can always be look upon the human body and be reminded that if tranquility is found nowhere else that the body is one thing that will always show beauty in this world. Representing the human experience is never an easy task, however I felt that these pieces of art were perfect examples of how much in common the human database “ the human brain” and media database really have. Represented in an aesthetically similar way that Mary Shelly designed Patchwork Girl, I was successfully able to associate the human brain, emotions, and dialogue to database, topology, space and time, which are and can be explained in similar terms that Borges, Aerseth, Viola, McCloud, Manovich, Mary Shelley, and Daniel use. In conclusion, it is important to assimilate elements of new media to the human database because nature and technology are believe it or not becoming one in the same. With the technical advances that are happening with media, medicine, and warfare, it is difficult to say where our future will lead. It is important to remember that technology can be used in ways to help or hurt the world, but it is up to us to decide.

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