Blue Colic Cruft
This computer program downloads an image from the web of a surveillance camera located in Southern Illinois. The camera points at a pastoral scene consisting of a row of trees next to a country road, and in the distance is a small body of water. I was struck by the simplicity and beauty of this image, contrasted with the knowledge that someone for some reason is watching. What is the purpose of surveillancing such a peaceful place? When the CRUFT computer program downloads an image from the camera, as well as a short sample of news from the National Public Radio, they are copied and repeatedly manipulated by the algorithm, creating a short video that mashes together two different kinds of streaming data in what becomes a violent stuttering cough.
CRUFT: Art from Digital Leftovers
My work includes traditional art practices in drawing, painting, printmaking, and sculpture. Recent work includes generative art, performance, installation, and network based art. My arts practice explores the Internet not just as a distribution platform but organized under the umbrella concept of Cruft. I take apart, juxtapose, recycle, and interrupt the relentless flow of media to reveal a relationship in which we don't simply consume media, but are also consumed by it. Computer code is automated and runs on a server which at specified times goes out to the Internet and scrapes source material from the web to then produce a form of digital collage. Each auto-generated Cruft is the digital residue created from the information flowing through the Internet at that moment. This work is then automatically uploaded to my web site for distribution to the viewing public. My work on Cruft has encouraged me to think about the nature of the unique art object and it’s dematerialization, from atoms to bits, allowing for potentially infinite copies.
Misdirection as Mass Deception
Like the magician performing sleight-of-hand to deceive and misdirect the eye, those in power tell us where to look and what to think. The mass media provides the stage where the deception unfolds focusing public attention with emotion and fear. Having been in lower Manhattan on September 11th 2001, I experienced first hand the collision of terrorism and warfare into the visual, resulting in our network connected screens compressing the time between living and documenting an event. The media showed images of the planes impact and the buildings collapse in a repetitive loop. Our screens became weapons of terror, the system of representation was hijacked and we were forced to relive those terrifying moments by viewing images presented as a never ending present. In 2003, as the United States invaded Iraq, I began to notice how the media presented images that contributed to fear and consensus, and as the images disappeared from view, I wondered what became of these digital leftovers and I then started creating auto-generated Cruft.