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Rupture Cruft (Drone Study #2)

This cruft image is created by regularly downloading and processing an image from the Great Sand Dunes National Park.

I visited the Great Sand Dunes National Park in the summer of 2013, and climbed the tallest sand dunes in North America, which rise about 750 feet. It was impressive to experience landscape that was in constant motion, like standing in a river as it rises and falls away. The metaphor of digital leftovers flowing through the network came to mind. Grains of sand not unlike digital images streaming past. This cruft image captures snapshots of this moving landscape, and processes them in a way that the motion of the landscape is slowed down. Looking at the image archive one can feel the motion at a new temporal pace. The power of the Great Sand Dunes National Park is that one can experience erosion at an accelerated speed and at a visceral level, as the sands and rocks are blown literally into ones skin.

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


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