CRUFT: To Synchronize Our Heartbeats

We're in an Internet-induced collective hallucination and it's toxic.

There is so much broken and fragmented information to consume on the Internet, so the task is to build something from the leftovers. This is CRUFT.

I am a visual artist who creates code-based automated art that explores the nature of the Internet, it's strengths and failures, producing what has been called a post-Internet art that reflects the networks effect on our society and culture. The Internet is the raw material I appropriate and remix by writing computer code that is automated and runs on a 24/7 schedule producing a form of auto-generated collage I call CRUFT. The resulting artwork allows me to investigate broader issues of traditional concepts—such as originality, creativity, authorship and eternal value.

CRUFT lacks certainty, it is variable, fragile, and impermanent.

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. New technologies dislocate our ideas of time and place. Smartphones encourage us to not be in the here and now, while allowing us to always be simultaneously present and absent. There is no sense of time or place anymore.

Post-traumatic stress. Post-traumatic growth. Realignment.

Art isn't an aesthetic exercise; it can interrupt our hallucinations and synchronize our heartbeats by offering us a way of being-in-the-world that can protect us from the hostilities in which we live.

Robert Spahr
Carbondale, IL
July 2024

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