Technology is often seen as a soulless tool to serve our various needs. That’s one reason why “technical discussions” often get boring because it’s like sitting for hours talking about how wonderful a screwdriver is. However, this is not the entire truth. In short, each technology carries a piece of its creator’s soul and behind each product there is a story of ups and downs and a lot of perseverance, that made those things possible.
Still, technology as a concept tends to go on a completely separate road from the human factor: We want cozy homes but we don’t want all the pipes and wires. We want a good car but we hate the gasoline smell. We cut, drill, weld but the molten iron burns our fragile skin. Maybe our technology is just too incipient and needs hundreds of years of evolution to properly start to embrace the living world.
The living world on the other hand, screams for life. We call it art and it is the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.
Can the two worlds go together? Apparently they can. Modern artists found ways of bringing tech and emotion together. The result is mind-blowing.
Yuri Pattison works in digital media and sculpture, exploring ways in which the virtual world permits material reality. His work addresses the relationship of visual cultures to emerging communication technologies and metadata circulation.
At Frieze London 2016, Pattison installed a networked artwork entitled Insights (crisis trolly) throughout the fair, involving a series of ‘Big Board’-style monitors – often used by media companies to visualize sales statistics or popular news articles, enabling a live response to consumer behaviour. The screens collected information from the fair environment as well as the ‘Internet of Things’, speaking to visitors about the ever-expanding universe of data being produced and consumed daily – as well as the politics of data-driven systems, as prophesized in science fiction.
At mother’s tankstation London 2019, a sculpture confronts us with ecological cycles. “At the centre of Pattison’s exhibition, is the work sun(set) provisioning a sculptural reiteration of the digital renderings of atmospheric conditions familiar from video game designs. In the work, a solar disk hovers at the horizon’s edge, dispersing illumination across a foreground of clouds and sky that alter according to the localised weather conditions of the place in which the sun(set) provisioning is displayed. The sculpture-internal conditions visualised on screen are produced using a uRadMonitor, which records atmospheric data which can then be reproduced visually. The monitoring programme was originally developed by a Romanian developer to provide an accessible means of monitoring atmospheric conditions independent of recourse to governments.” says Artland.
“Oil spills, ongoing toxic waste disposal and emissions manipulation scandals by corporations and national governments (sometimes in collusion with each other) have proliferated in recent years despite supposed advances in technologies of safety – not to mention the continuing consequences of the Fukushima nuclear disaster – thus the values behind the creation of the uRadMonitor: openness, accessibility, and scepticism of official information channels have come to take on even greater significance in a contemporary moment disfigured by institutional climate denial, corporate disinformation, and the hyper-individualised discourse of environmental activism. Every person’s actions may affect the totality of the globe, but no one can solve the crisis alone. sun(set) provisioning will operate in real time, responding to the weather conditions for the duration of the exhibition, recapitulating the complex relationship between observed, experienced phenomena and the mediated representation of that same information. The kind of transparency sought by the creator of the uRadMonitor, thus confronts the structural and economic mechanisms by which it has become at once nearly ubiquitous and invisible: as the primary methodology for presenting “realistic” weather conditions for the often fantastical narratives of video games. The interaction of the fantastic and the realistic is now not solely, or even primarily, the province of consumer entertainment, but has crept into the way all information is presented, distributed and consumed.” explains Artland.
Giulia Civardi also reviews the setup for thisistomorrow:
” A monitor hung on a metal framework shows the rendering of a sunset. The blazing skyline splits the screen horizontally, while a nebulous sea and sky restlessly change colour. The ethereal video-game-like landscape of ‘sun[set] provisioning’ is closer to reality than it seems. An air monitoring station embedded in the skeletal sculpture records in real time the air in the room. The sampled data is translated by a graphic software into abstract visions of our current reality. The sky is under a spell, forceful and storied. In the cloudy atmosphere, an invisible world rises to the surface.
Pattison invites us to look with the same degree of attention to space, the materially of objects and the experience of seeing itself. As the fragmented framework of the sculpture suggests, he deconstructs technologies that record and shape reality – to make it seen again. Combining air sampling software with graphic abstractions, Pattison conjures a fiction which sharply exposes facts. The green-tinged sea recalls a radioactive spill, suggesting that human activity – be it breathing in the gallery room or chemically on a global scale – contaminates the planet. The work connects, in a subtle way, the erraticism of weather cycles to our actions and movements. Just by being in the atmospheric field, we inevitably pull its threads” .
U. Kanad Chakrabarti
U. Kanad Chakrabarti is a writer and artist based in New York and London. His software installations – `film-essays by other means’ – illuminate the ambiguities inherent in technological capitalism. Selected group exhibitions: CAC (Vilnius), Queens Museum (New York City), ICA (London), Nottingham Contemporary, Whitechapel Gallery (London), CCA (Glasgow), Shanghai Minsheng Art Museum, SongEun ArtSpace. Education: MA, Painting and Art Theory (Slade School of Fine Art, UCL, 2015); BSc, Computational Finance (MIT, 1994). ukc10014.org
Data from uRADMonitor A3 unit 82000034 installed in Alba Iulia Romania is accessed via the Internet thousands of kilometers away for a browser app which is part of an exhibition in NYC. More on the gallery here.