Aaron Swartz and Taryn Simon – A collaboration between a hacker and an artist.
Art and technology have always run hand in hand, Da Vinci probably embodied this assemble like no one else. Great inventions provide artists with new tools to explore their artistic pulse and creation. From Gutenberg’s printing press to the computer graphics, digital art and even computer robotics, technology provided artists with exciting new medium to work with.
Artworks that specify the type of printer they are using are mushrooming in galleries and art fairs. Some of them even state de brand of the printer – I love the Starn brothers Epson K3 inkjet printed trees, I saw some awesome 3D printed artwork by Robert Buck at Untilted 2012 during ABMB, and off course Wade Guyton’s tense relationship with his desktop printer, just to mention a few.
I recently run into another type of partnership between art and technology. This time not between an artist and a medium but between an artist and a hacker. Please note that when I say hacker I mean it in Pekka Himanen’s sense, as someone who dedicates passionately to programming and believe its their duty to share information and create free – open software. (You can download his book The Hacker Ethic free from the internet)
The late Aaron Swartz (founder of Reddit and one of the leaders of the movement that stopped SOPA and PIPA) and Taryn Simon (photographer and installation artist) where paired in Rhizome.org’s project Seven on Seven @ the New Museum and what became of it was a prototype for Image Atlas. Image Atlas is a website that runs multiple searches in locally preferred engines and compares the images it brings up. A sort of visual image of each country’s collective view of the world that points out that we may be more programmed by these tools that we are aware of.
I did some searches last night to see what came up - you can do so at imageatlas.org
This is a search for the word "now"
and a search for the word "art" - scary how in Kenya and North Korea, art is linked to the military.
a "beauty" search shows how in most countries there is an agreement on the stereotype
I searched the word "popular" and this time organised the countries by GDP. Below, the top and bottom images.
The Image Atlas is an attempt to investigate cultural differences and similarities through indexing visual material from different nations. It studies differences and repetitions throughout nations in popular distributed visual materials. It toys with the idea of a universal visual language and how it would look like.
In her own words: “as people move farther away from verbal communication (Instagram, etc.), it’s worth questioning if visual communication is subject to the same issues of translation and misinterpretation found in verbal communication.”
(Interview from The New Yorker here)
This archival type of creative process was very present in the Bienal do São Paulo last year. It sort of makes sense, if one thinks about the enormous chunks of information we are confronted with daily product of the internet revolution and the need there is to make sense of it all. It’s a struggle to create some order out of the daily chaos.
You can watch the presentation of this idea by Taryn Simon and Aaron Swartz here.
A word on Rhizome. Rhizome is dedicated to the creation, presentation, preservation, and critique of emerging artistic practices that engage technology. Through open platforms for exchange and collaboration, the website serves to encourage and expand the communities around these practices. It is also an online archive of digital art containing over 2,500 art works. In this spirit, Seven on Seven, pairs seven leading artists with seven game-changing technologists in teams of two, and challenges them to develop something new—be it an application, social media, artwork, product, or whatever they imagine—over the course of a single day. www.rhizome.org/sevenonseven