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Angry Meditation Cruft (stone mind)

THE STONE MIND

Hogen, a Chinese Zen teacher was walking on the mountain pass with one of his young students.

The teacher kept silent while the student spoke the entire time of Zen and the mind. After some distance the student and her teacher reached a giant boulder.

The teacher inquired softly of the student, "There is a big stone. Do you consider it to be inside or outside your mind?"

The student replied confidently, "In Zen everything is an objectification of the mind. Therefore I would say that the stone is certainly within my mind."

The teacher smiled. "Your head must be very heavy, if you are carrying a stone like that in your mind." The two walked the rest of the way in silence.


CRUFT: Art from Digital Leftovers

The relentless flow of information on the Internet that quickly becomes digital leftovers is examined by my art practice 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 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 analog 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 Cruft produced by automated computer processes.

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 art practice 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.

Robert Spahr
Carbondale, IL
August 2018