Thursday, November 19, 2009

From Virtual to Physical

I really enjoyed attending all of the artist lectures over the past week and seeing each artist's unique interpretation and manipulation of our current technological situation. Every lecturer seemed to be intelligently critiquing the various modes of technological communication in modern society (via manipulation of cellular devices, youtube videos, engineering-heavy robots, etc), but what really struck me were the installations and concepts that involved the mapping of the virtual space of technology in the physical space or the real world. Both Chris and Jonah work extensively in this realm, but Jonah really seemed to critique the idea of software's ability to make "the invisible visible and the visible invisible" as professor Chun would say. By creating a literally tangible link between software (occurring in the virtual realm) and its power in the physical realm, ie in creating the literal website "hit counter", Jonah truly succeeds in making visible the power of our actions in interacting with software (a power that remains invisible for the most part, other than the opening of a "folder" on our "desktop" or something of the sort). Software creates a world similar to our physical world in which information files resemble actual files (with icons that resemble sheets of paper) and folders represent a common method of organization in the real world. Many of the results of our interactions with the computer, however, go largely unnoticed. Importing a cd in itunes, for example, involves a complicated series of tasks for the computer (downloading the songs individually, attaching metadata to each file, registering with Apple online in order to find album artwork, etc) while the user simply clicks "import cd". If only it were that simple. Many computer users will never realize that for every simple action on the user's part, there follows a long series of hidden actions that work to produce simplified results. Jonah, in his installation of the hit counter, establishes this cause-and-effect relationship in a very visible way (although it does not actually represent an effect of accessing the site). For these reasons, Jonah's work was incredible enlightening for me and presented a great exploration of the course material in very visual ways. Much of his other work provide interesting launching points for discussion, but I think I'll end here. Seeing these lecturers really proved to me the importance of being able to think and talk about one's work conceptually and intelligently (something that I have greatly strived towards in my photographic work.)

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