- Mobile Performance
- Electric Speed
- Schematic as Score
- (Re)purposed Clothes
- Collaborative Spaces
- Device Art
- Digital Dub
- Rise of the VJ
- Sample Culture
[Steven Reid / 8 bits of Infinite Contemplation, custom software code, apple IIe, monitors, wood, acrylic on canvas / 2006]
People in the world today seem to have this incredible ability to quickly embrace and consume new technologies. It is built into the media and culture I constantly face, at least here in America. Call it a gadget religion. I find this fascinating. A somewhat obvious approach to this trend is a strategy of negation or rebellion, which is perhaps a thread of what we are calling here “digital minimalism”.
I am not really interested in pixels, grids, bytes, or any such literal reduction in the materials of digital technology. I don’t see the point in that. Of course there are layers upon layers of abstraction in this medium. That is a given. The layers can be incredibly interesting, I must admit, but for whatever reason I believe that instead I arrived at some sort of minimalist approach because I was looking for a way to find satisfaction within a demanding, ever-changing world of new digital tools and mediums. Each promises more and more comfort with their acceptance and inclusion in our lives. This creates a paradox when more comfort is constantly promised to us. Aren’t I comfortable now? Wasn’t I satisfied when I used my VCR or my Commodore 64 or my single tray CD player? When do I have enough?
Scores of people for centuries have brought up the issues and warnings of our becoming too dependent on technology. It’s not a new idea. Many have found that technology gets very tiring to keep up with, and can become a contest. I see artists and designers working on the bleeding edge of technology, and I’m happy for them, but I won’t try to catch up to them. I guess technophilia is just as valid as technophobia. I myself love new technology, but dislike excessive and garish uses of it for the sake of it (something I often call ‘technology materialism’). Advertisers and marketers love to do this. I find that there is often not a deep understanding of it, which is perhaps the case because that takes time to gain - and time is not on the technophile’s side as there is a new revision or competitor coming just around the corner! So I prefer the no-contest approach, an embrace of technology but with caution, one that allows for at least some patience and understanding of the ever-changing medium.
Thus, I have begun to strip away what is not needed to achieve a satisfactory feeling from the technology. What I find is that not much technology is actually ‘required’ for this to happen. It would be nice if I could escape entirely from technology, and feel satisfied. I tried that, and failed. I ended up just feeling stubborn, disconnected, and stupid, as if I were lost. Yes, technophobia for the sake of it can lead to boredom, be warned! Pure negation of technology did not work for me, so I now go for something in the middle.
For instance, in a recent series of pieces generally entitled The Color Channel, the work’s use of technology at first looks low-tech and minimal, yet there are some elements that appear to be high-tech or even digitally excessive. The broadcasted videos shown on old televisions resting on the floor use tens of thousands of computer generated images which are mixed into UHF signals in real-time, but the ‘art’ presented to the viewer at eye-level is mostly invisible. I displayed the piece in such a way as to focus on the airwaves as art medium. In the wall space where one would commonly see painting or photography, there are only simple antennae structures which are displayed in a rather formal manner, taking up most of the wall space, but just barely. The piece has been described as ‘seductive’, yet it was made mostly with technological detritus.