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Darkling Cruft (an eye on dangerous)

For, you know, nuncle,
The hedge-sparrow fed the cuckoo so long,
That it's had it head bit off by it young.
So, out went the candle, and we were left darkling.
—King Lear, Act I:IV

This cruft program updates every hour, capturing images from surveillance cameras watching the streets of New York City. An auto-generated animation is created which seems to obscure specific details as it also focuses the viewers attention on new shapes and colors.

In the U.S. the first commercial closed-circuit television system became available in 1949, called Vericon™. Very little is known about Vericon™ except it was advertised as not requiring a government permit.

The system called Vericon™ requires no government permit.

vericon_popular_mechanics_1949
Popular Mechanics, February 1949


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