2 - 19 November 2011
Tara Cook continues her exploration of technology and detritus in Slip.p_Age/s. The glitched present births Slip.p_Age/s’ constructions from error. Unwanted, random, and accidental, perhaps even mad, chaotic or entropic; they sit in the tense space between the presence of malfunction and the memory of intended but now absent functionality. Thought to be inferior as they lack control and clarity, they are viewed as negative and frustrating occurrences, to be reduced and eradicated. With no use, they’ve lost all reason. Our decaying interest and their disposable fate fill them with thoughts of failure, abandonment and death. These fears of disaster, disappointment and obsolescence breed with the times.
The glitched present births Slip.p_Age/s’ constructions from error. Unwanted, random and accidental, perhaps even mad, chaotic or entropic; they sit in the tense space between the presence of malfunction and the memory of intended but now absent functionality. Thought to be inferior as they lack control and clarity, they are viewed as negative and frustrating occurrences, to be reduced and eradicated. With no use, they’ve lost all meaning. Our decaying interest and their disposable fate fill them with thoughts of failure, abandonment and death. These fears of disaster breed with the times.
Exhibited are a series of interactive post-media works, found cracked 13 inch cracked Liquid Crystal Display, Cold Cathode Fluorescent Tube laptop panels; backlit and framed with slim-line Light Emitting Diode panels. Slips of information and functionality have caused manifestations that are splintered, incomplete and unusual. Faults in the structure of this technology reveal its order, producing abstract outcomes that display the design, structure and modularity of the system. The images contain elements of linearity, flat colour, tone, dots and cubes. These compositional elements can be located as pertaining close proximity to abstraction within art, in particular the movements of Cubism, De Stijl and Pointillism.
The screens have been stripped to bear only their glass paneling, still retaining a segment of their circuitry. Mounted and backlit, the details are illuminated to reveal pixels, lines, colours, cracks and black ink-like areas. Heat radiated from the lighting (both the light box and gallery) will gradually cause black areas to deepen and spill into other areas within each screen. Moreover, the effects of gravity on the crystals within each panel will create fine drips reiterating this idea of temporality, destruction and the state of the object. Advancing these natural reactions is the possibility of interaction with these screens. The participants’ touch may kill pixels, create new cracks and disturb crystals not only affecting the functionality of the object, but its composition and form. The tangible gesture of interacting with the broken media of Slip.p_Age/s is a form of mark making, an embodied technique of gesture in which deliberate and physical interventions into media directly affect the work. These elements of destruction within interactivity can recompose the artworks and express an awareness of the consequence of action. In Slip.p_Age/s there is a self-destructive and auto-creative mechanism inbuilt in the work, which instructs the composition over time; this work is created from itself, the viewer and the artist, an artistic act set in motion and left to chance.
The chance event of ‘the accident’ is evident on the LCD surface. In ‘Accident in Art’, theorist Paul Virilio stresses that a possible accident is created together with each technological invention, but that the accident is necessary for the progress of science and the evolution of mankind. In Slip.p_Age/s, chance is employed through the setting up systems, events or conditions in which the outcome is unknown. Similarly, the Dada art movement experimented with spontaneity and chance as methods of artistic creation to relinquish control and depersonalise the creative process. Dada turned to chance because they were skeptical of reason amid the chaos of their war torn context. Similarly, Slip.p_Age/s is an expression of skepticism towards function within a heavily technology dependent context. Chance artworks can appear to be random, as their causality is not always immediately apparent. Nevertheless, their occurrence is the result of circumstances and their use within art practice is deliberate. Artist Per Platou explains that while ‘one can (and should) allow for various kinds of random actions/events in art-making, technically or otherwise… the conclusion remains: It is impossible to deliberately make a mistake.’
The works focus on the media and its material quality, as opposed to immediate, illusory or immersive representations that it may facilitate. Slip.p_Age/s are a distortion in the interface or communication of a message between a device and a user, breaking immersion and connecting the audience to the materiality of the media. The subject is the object, the works are hypermedia, making the tools are as interesting and significant as the aesthetic experience itself. As Lev Manovich outlines in his ‘The Language of New Media’, the machine or medium, at every instant of interaction, reminds the user of its existence. Just as Martin Heidegger suggests that â€œthe essence of technology is not technologicalâ€, the fundamental nature of Slip.p_Age/s is not a material, mechanical or technical means to an aesthetic end, but rather poetic expressions of the technology, they actively engage a person in their understanding of media before them, their relationship to that technology and ultimately their sense of being.
The anomalies of Slip.p_Age/s pertain to a disobedient entropic quality. Like all error, they are by their very nature unpredictable, unexpected and therefore undesired. In ‘Madness and Civilization’ philosopher Michel Foucault argues that the language of reason controlled and ultimately silenced the dialogue between reason and madness, which in turn limited individuality and the ability of unreason to elucidate truth. The faults and malfunctions within Slip.p_Age/ are a kind of madness that the desire for order suppresses, arguing that error plays an important role in expressing limitations and truth, particularly in terms of functionality and order.
Slip.p_Age/s reinvents found and broken laptop screens, making creations in direct opposition to function, valuing imperfection and finding beauty in fault. The charged subversion of its function by appreciating its defunct state is a bold statement against the expectation of perfection, order and uniformity. Underpinned by an avant-garde belief that nothing new would ever happen without defiance or the subversion of rules, the abnormalities within Slip.p_Age/s ideally open up lateral spaces for thought and effect, giving the viewer a greater ability to appreciate different aesthetics and the artist new platforms to diverge from. The artworks embrace technical error as an art form: seeing slippages as generative, didactic and transformative – technological obsolescence is not an end of something, but a beginning.
- Tara Cook, 2011.