Twittering Machine Object/Performance

This twittering machine object is wheeled forward on to the stage, a small wind chime hangs inside the cage like structure, ringing as it moves. The mixed audio of Donald J Trump and Frank Sinatra begins to play, amplified by the orange cone. A handle is turned, and a small camshaft raises and lowers a platform covered in feathers inside the cage. As the handle is cranked, white feathers begin to squeeze through the wire mesh of the cage, falling to the floor. The handle continues to be cranked, feathers issue forth. The twittering machine is then wheeled off stage.

Twittering Machine
Twittering Machine was performed at the Out of the Box Festival, as part of Jay Needham's Radio Piano performance in Shryock Auditorium at Southern Illinois University, 2016. A collaborative group performance with Todd Birdsong and Jay Needham.


Creative Research

CRUFT: Art from Digital Leftovers
My art practice produces code-based automated art, live art performance, drawing, painting and sculpture all of which examines the relentless flow of information on the Internet that quickly becomes digital leftovers to reveal a relationship in which we don't simply consume media, but are also consumed by it. I explore the Internet as source material to be appropriated, taken apart, juxtaposed, and recycled by writing computer code that is automated and runs on a 24/7 schedule producing a form of collage I call Cruft. The resulting digital artwork allows me to investigate broader issues of originality, authorship, reproduction and temporality.

In response to the intense pace and constant change happening online, my art practice includes a slower and thoughtful method of applying traditional media such as charcoal, paint, wax and ink, to prints of selected Cruft images. These mixed-media images are created over longer periods of time resulting in a meditative process that subverts the goals of speed, spectacle and distraction, offering an opportunity for slower looking and deeper thinking compared to the crushing overload of an endless stream of automated Cruft.

The Internet has the ability to provide freedom by connecting us at great distances, democratizing the world's knowledge, and facilitating disruption and resistance to systems of power. It can also simultaneously provide control by restricting and regulating our thoughts and actions while propagating fear, divisiveness, surveillance and repression. My artwork delves into the very nature of the Internet, pulling at it’s strengths and exposing the flaws, producing what has been coined Post-Internet art, that by definition references the "network" that we all inhabit, and ultimately, it's effects on our society and culture.

My art is a personal inquiry into fundamental questions about our values, ideas, fears and dreams. I am interested in how the humanities and technology shape our individuality and communities, and how the arts and humanities can inspire us to ask who we are and what our lives might mean.

Robert Spahr
Carbondale, IL
August 2018

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About Me

Past exhibits include the Artist Statement: Exhibition and Publication, Czong Institute for Contemporary Art , CICA Museum, South Korea, 2016; Art2Code Exhibit and Catalog, College Art Association and Arts Collective V1B3, Washington D.C. 2016; Unknown Territory Exhibition: New Art From The Hacktory, Grey Area Gallery, Crane Arts, Philidelphia, PA, 2014; InterArtive, Culture + Urban Space, Issue #65, Barcelona, Spain 2014; Hz Journal #19, Stockholm, Sweden, 2014; Synthetic Zero Event, Bronx Art Space, Bronx, NY; Generative Art International Conference, Rome, Italy 2013; PRISM Breakup @ Eyebeam, NYC, ReFest / Art+Tech Festival, organized by CultureHub at La Mama, NYC; Neuromast: Certain Uncertainty and Contemporary Art, Franklin Street Works, Stamford, CT; Interrupt II Festival and Conference - Brown University, Providence RI; cgiv2011, Digital Art Gallery, Computer Graphics, Imaging and Visualization, Singapore; DRHA 2010 Conference: Digital Resources for the Humanities and Arts, London, England.

I am currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Cinema and Photography at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

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