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Interview of John Klima

By Rhizome

0johnklima.jpgJohn Klima's work is probably one of the most curious, challenging and fascinating i've ever read about. He has exhibited all over the world his remote-controlled fiction piece, a bunch of "robugs" that think they are the new Jackson Pollock, a kiddie ride inspired by the conflict in Afghanistan, a pre-Google-Earth installation, his coin-operated arcade game which puts at risk the life of a real golden fish and some maliciously user-unfriendly interfaces.

Klima is currently a research scientist in the Mathematics department at New York University, and adjunct Professor of Digital Media at the Rhode Island School of Design.
His bio states that: "Consistently connecting the virtual to the real, Klima builds large scale electro-mechanical installations driven by 3d game software he programs from scratch. The virtual computer imagery mirrors and extends the potential and agency of the physical components to produce cohesive worlds that are both humorous and sinister." Well, as you'll read in this interview, if one had to choose between "sinister" and "humorous" to define Klima, the latter adjective would by far be the most appropriate.

What's your background?

When I was a kid, I always messed around with electronics and computers. I built lots of kits, and I had a TRS-80 model II, with 4k ram, we eventually upgraded to a whopping 16k. The TRS-80 was essentially the very first PC. Back then (1978?), I taught myself programming in BASIC. At that time, bootlegging software essentially consisted of typing in the code from a book or a magazine, or doing an audio tape-to-tape copy. Those were the days. I wrote a bunch of games in BASIC, the most complex being a rodent control simulation in an urban setting I wrote as project for my biology class. The teacher refused to believe I did the thing myself and accused me of plagarism.

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