Home / Work / Red Ink

Red Ink Cruft

"Money is overthrown and abolished by blood."
- Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West

"Let me tell you a wonderful, old joke from Communist times. A guy was sent from East Germany to work in Siberia. He knew his mail would be read by censors, so he told his friends: "Let's establish a code. If a letter you get from me is written in blue ink, it is true what I say. If it is written in red ink, it is false." After a month, his friends get the first letter. Everything is in blue. It says, this letter: "Everything is wonderful here. Stores are full of good food. Movie theatres show good films from the west. Apartments are large and luxurious. The only thing you cannot buy is red ink."

This is how we live. We have all the freedoms we want. But what we are missing is red ink: the language to articulate our non-freedom. The way we are taught to speak about freedom – war on terror and so on – falsifies freedom. And this is what you are doing here. You are giving all of us red ink.
- Slavoj Žižek at Occupy Wall Street protests in New York

This cruft algorithm extracts data from the Dow Jones and a still image from the live video feed of the Occupy Wall Street protest. This CRUFT provides a simultaneous view of the progress of the occupation and the markets.

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.