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cliff dwellers cruft

Cliff Dwellers (Drone Study #4)

A series of images captured from a CCTV camera in New York City are processed to produce a ghost like animation.

Native American cliff dwellers were at the peak of their technological development circa the 12th and 13th centuries when they appear to have left quietly... Some theories include climate change, prolonged drought, topsoil erosion, de-forestation, and hostility from new arrivals. Do you remember Fax Machines, Gaming Consoles, Personal Computers... Are you still on Facebook?

The Cliff Dwellers Cruft images are studies for the larger project Machine Vision: Images of Drone Landscapes .

CRUFT: Art from Digital Leftovers

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.

The relentless flow of information on the Internet that soon 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 explore broader issues of originality, authorship, reproduction and temporality.

Social media platforms encourage divisiveness and Internet search results push us toward tribalized extremes. We have become addicted to our screens and are now captive to our Google / Facebook / Twitter / Amazon echo chambers. 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 offer the opportunity for slower looking and deeper thinking compared to the crushing overload of an endless stream of Cruft produced by automated computer processes. The analog art is created over longer periods of time resulting in a meditative process that subverts the goals of speed, spectacle and distraction as presented by social media and the Internet. My work explores the nature of the Internet, it's strengths and failures, producing a post-Internet art that reflects the networks effect on our society and culture.

Robert Spahr
Carbondale, IL
August 2018