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Lifejacket Cruft (Prospero's Prism)

This cruft image is created using a sequence of images captured from a closed-circuit television (CCTV) camera positioned in a barn looking at cattle. An image is collected from the United States Air Force website, and with the images from the farm, an animated composite is made.

But how is it
That this lives in thy mind? What seest thou else
In the dark backward and abysm of time?
If thou remember'st aught ere thou camest here,
How thou camest here thou mayst.

Prospero, scene ii

— Shakespeare, William. The Tempest. Retrieved July 30, 2013, from http://shakespeare.mit.edu/tempest/full.html

Further Resources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PRISM_(surveillance_program)


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