brich at allegheny.edu
Tue Feb 14 04:12:58 AEDT 2017
The question of audience is what I will tackle first as it is what I’m the least aware of.
I don’t think that the audience generally gets it. That is why the humor and playfulness of it is so crucial. I have a terrible relationship to my audience I think in that I don’t know who they are. This not knowing stems from spending so much of my career so far either doing public workshops or strict gallery shows in niche spaces without much in between. The general public seems to react favorably to the humorous or realteable, like GARRy. There is something concrete to anthropomorphize in a work like GARRy, so it is easy to latch on to. Especially when I program it to follow people. Gallery goers can’t help but have empathy for this pathetic plant/robot hybrid as it slowly struggles to navigate space.
What is interesting is that people may not get the underlying concept right away, but they lose their ability to discern between the robot and the plant and the two elements become intrinsically tied in their mind. It’s like the weakest version ever of the uncanny vision of the future we see in SciFi like Westworld or Ex-Machina. People can’t help but feel for this thing, largely because of the pathetic-ness of the spectacle of a plant autonomously navigating space.
As for humor, I think it has an immense ability to break down a viewer’s wall of disengagement. When you hit them with something that is humorous and kind of pathetic they become vulnerable to everything else that you embed within the work. They may not get the overarching concept right away, but with time as they start to laugh or empathize with the work, they start to have a deepened relationship with it. I like art that doesn’t build up a wall of “expertise” or excludes, but instead invites them in. With time the hidden meanings are revealed, or at least people are more likely to accept the underlying concepts because they’ve connected with the piece. It’s like a weird little broken friend.
I’ve had a ton of fairly visible failures in my time as an artist when I didn’t read the potential audience correctly at all, so now I tend to stick with a slightly more humorous, albeit fundamentally dystopian, vibe.
Assistant Professor of Electronic Art, Intermedia & Painting
Doane Hall of Art, A204
Office Hours, Fall 2016:
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday - 8:30am-10:00am
Click here <https://calendar.google.com/calendar/selfsched?sstoken=UUJyUzlGanlxTzVLfGRlZmF1bHR8YmE3MzU3OGE4MDJhMzY5MTFkNjM0MDFlMmQxNzM0ODg> to schedule an appointment.
> On Feb 12, 2017, at 8:13 PM, Renate Terese Ferro <rferro at cornell.edu> wrote:
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> Dear Byron and all,
> We are thrilled to have you be part of our February discussion “Between Biology and Art.” As I said in my post earlier there is a critical space that I see between any kind of cross-disciplinary venture. Your robotic intervention between ecology, technology, and mapping is great example of this.
> I have observed that within such critical spaces there are many artists who work with irony and humor to magnify the critical issues that the artist is so intent on highlighting. At least for now I’d love to hear more about how you manipulate humor or irony further and if you think there is a limit or what the boundaries are for you?
> Also what about your audience? Do you think that ordinary audiences realize and understand the nuances between the serious underlying intent of your robots yet their ironic missions to transport the ragweed back to North America. Maybe I am simplifying the role that the audience may play but I’m wondering how you have conceived of their role.
> Really looking forward to hearing more about GARRy’s missions. Thanks Byron for being such a sport to start this out over the next couple of days.
> Cheers to all. Renate
> On 2/11/17, 12:31 PM, "empyre-bounces at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au on behalf of Byron Rich" <empyre-bounces at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au on behalf of brich at allegheny.edu> wrote:
>> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>> Greetings everyone. I’m pretty happy to be a part of the conversation.
>> I’ll start with a bit about what I do.
>> I’m really most into designing absurd solutions to ecological and social problems. I like pushing back against the idea of “techno-solutionism” as I find it has a weird relationship to Libertarianism as it’s practiced in Silicon Valley. I worry about the insertion of non-holistic approaches into culture without careful consideration of the context and consequences of them.
>> For instance, when in Germany for a residency two summers ago I was working quite a bit with invasive species, specifically Ragweed. Ragweed runs rampant throughout Germany and was particularly bad in the area of Leipzig where I was living. Every effort at mitigating the ragweed was failing, so I developed a terrible robot to help. What I was sort of struck by was the irony of the panic over this North American species in a way colonizing Europe. What I did was create a robot that could access weather data and Google Maps to plot a course to the port in Rotterdam where theoretically the robot could board a ship and carry a couple ragweed plants back to North America. Of course on the way it would inevitably spread ragweed only making the problem worse. Additionally, the robot could only travel 1 km on a full charge, then would have to wait as a small solar cell tried to recharge the battery pack.
>> Needless to say, GARRy (GPS Assisted Ragweed Robot) didn’t really work as a solution. It did however function exactly as designed in that it could autonomously plot a course and navigate to it’s intended destination. I’m now using the same technology to develop nomadic ecosystems that travel on dirigibles. Aesthetically they are loosely based on La Minerve, a 19th century vision of the future of air travel. I love the idea of extending the capabilities of non-human actors as a kind of reaction to climate change. I can talk more about this project later.
>> Currently I am artist-in-residence at The University at Buffalo’s Coalesce lab where I am working on developing a transgenic bioluminescent yeast biosensor for the detection of estrogen and estrogen mimickers in water samples. There are some problems with the complexity of the transformation in that there are two plasmids in play, one for reporting and one for detecting. It’s still a bit beyond me, but should be doable.
>> Perhaps that is enough of a first post? Please forgive any grammatical or spelling errors as I’m on my phone.
>> Thanks for reading!
>>> On Feb 10, 2017, at 8:14 PM, Renate Terese Ferro <rferro at cornell.edu> wrote:
>>> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>>> We will begin our Introductory posts for the topic Between Biology and Art this weekend joined by Byron Rich. Byron and I will be setting the foundation for our discussion over the next three and a half weeks. These generative iterations create grounds of tension for creative and critical engagement within the fields of biological and artistic research and production.
>>> Historically we all recall the case of Steve Kurtz, SUNY Buffalo and Critical Arts Ensemble member who in May of 2004 was accused of bio-terrorism because Homeland Security agents mistook his biologically based performance inspired by the global GMO contaminated food system.
>>> This is not the first time we have hosted bio science artists into our –empyre-soft skinned space. In February 2013 we hosted a memorial discussion in honor of artist Beatriz DaCosta. Beatriz was a leading voice in socially activist artistic work in the areas of biology, engineering, and technology.
>>> I was inspired to host this topic this month because at this past summer’s ISEA conference in Hong Kong I noted so many young artists who were doing research.
>>> Inspired by all of them empyre invites new media artists, researchers, historians and others to join us to investigate current topics such as germs,
>>> fermenting, probiotics, skin, ecologies and many more intersections between biology, technology, and new media practices.
>>> Hope these comments will inspire some of our subscribers to write in. And I am thrilled that Byron has so valiantly agreed to start things out with me. Here is his biography:
>>> Byron Rich (CA) is an artist, professor and lecturer born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. His work exploring speculative design, biology futures and tactical media has been widely shown and spoken about internationally. He pursued a degree in New-Media at The University of Calgary before finding himself in Buffalo, New York where he obtained an MFA in Emerging Practices at The University at Buffalo. He now teaches Electronic Art & Intermedia at Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania.
>>> Renate Ferro
>>> Visiting Associate Professor
>>> Director of Undergraduate Studies
>>> Department of Art
>>> Tjaden Hall 306
>>> rferro at cornell.edu
>>> empyre forum
>>> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
>> Byron Rich
>> Assistant Professor of Electronic Art, Intermedia & Painting
>> Allegheny College
>> Meadville, PA
>> Doane Hall of Art, A204
>> (o) 814.332.3381
>> Office Hours, Fall 2016:
>> Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday - 8:30am-10:00am
>> Click here to schedule an appointment.
>> empyre forum
>> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
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