No Horse in Particular (2009)

No Horse in Particular explores the continuum of representation, from depiction to abstraction.

Full Description

For centuries, scholars have wrestled with the concept of meaning in visual imagery. Toward the end of the twentieth century, William Mitchell (1992) presented an observation that captured my imagination, “The existence of horses means that you can take a photograph of some particular horse, but it does not prevent a horse painting from showing no horse in particular. You cannot, however, take a photograph of no horse in particular” (p. 29). While this may initially seem an assertion of common sense, for me, the statement’s implications are profound with regard to the manipulative processes associated with digital imagery. For example, at what point in the process of digital manipulation could a representation of some particular horse be replaced by a representation of no horse in particular?

This composition combines photography, digital illustration, interactive design, and custom software development to create an engaging environment that allows people to explore the continuum of representation, from depiction to abstraction. The composition’s means for exploring this continuum are based on Wang and Hsu’s (2007) methods of abstraction: shape simplification, quantitative reduction, and software-aided simplification. The purpose of this exploration is for people to develop a more acute mode of interpretation in light of the complexity of contemporary media.

REFERENCES Mitchell, W. (1992). The reconfigured eye. Cambridge: The MIT Press.

Wang, R., Hsu, C.C. (2007). The method of graphic abstraction in visual metaphor. Visible Language, 41 (3), 266.

Work metadata

  • Year Created: 2009
  • Submitted to ArtBase: Tuesday Nov 27th, 2012
  • Original Url:
  • Work Credits:
    • robertfraher, primary creator
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Artist Statement

As an artist and designer, I am interested in creating compelling experiences for people through interactive computer-mediated communication. My work explores the context of the computer interface as an environment for both emotional and cognitive engagement. The two main purposes of this exploration are to help people 1) develop a more acute mode of interpretation in light of the complexity of contemporary media; and 2) experience the exhilaration that can result from creative participation.

To accomplish these outcomes, my work involves an interdisciplinary approach to the medium of human-computer interaction. The disciplinary perspectives involved in this approach include art, design, psychology, sociology, computer science, and instructional design. The structure of my inquiry commonly follows a design exploration process, in which the fundamental research question often begins with “What if…” As such, much of my work explores establishing new connections between disparate epistemologies.

My current creative activities center on exploring how interactive design and digital media can be used to facilitate individual expression and community involvement. This exploration includes considering topics ranging as widely as the therapeutic potential of digital media and current trends in online social media. The unifying characteristic of these activities is my intent to help people through creative processes, both theirs and my own.

My previous work has investigated the relationship between multisensory feedback and a person’s sense of immersion, as well as the concept of agency in novel computer interfaces. My immediate goals include pursuing increasingly compelling experiences for the audiences of my work, and continuing to contribute to the next generation of interactive artists and designers as a faculty member in higher education. The shared result of these goals will be the production of interactive artworks that promote understanding and foster community.

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