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attrition cruft

Attrition Cruft (Drone Study #3)

This cruft computer code downloads a recent photo from a webcam somewhere in the American Southwest. The colors are analyized and counted. The machine processes each pixel of the image, looking at the data and making choices based on the algorithm I put into the code. The sunlight somewhere on this unknown location has been captured by a webcam, shared on a network, and processed by my code sitting on a distant server, which sees not a landscape, but data to be processed and manipulated.

The algorithms produce a subtle simplification of the complexity of the original image resulting in a painterly shift of color. The vision of the machine is data consisting of 357,603 pixels represented by hexidecimal numbers.

Attrition Cruft images are studies for the project Machine Vision: Images of Drone Landscapes.

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