Memory, and its loss, are a central theme in my work. Unless we remember, we are condemned to an amnesiac present, textureless and flat, lacking the perspective of time.
My artwork tackles such issues in different ways. I have scoured junkyards, recycling centers and flea markets, looking for examples of aging technologies that defined our existence in the not-so-distant past. What we throw away holds an accurate portrait of who we were. VHS tapes, 35 mm film, hard discs, CDs, to name just a few obsolete mediums that I have used in my art, are all depositories of our memories. When tossing them out, we are also discarding an important part of ourselves. By projecting video animations onto old media, I attempt to reignite life back into them so as to reveal the shared memory they hold within.
Recently, our archives are being transferred from material-based media to online platforms. From Gutenberg's printing press to the DVD, a significant historical arc of material culture has come to a close. Knowledge is now deposited in liquid-like libraries that are ever-expanding, virtual and in constant mutation. The epistemological challenges of this shift are profound, ones that we are only beginning to understand. My dataworks are an attempt to capture, and cognitively process, the implications of these dramatic technological changes. These artworks are generative and driven by algorithms coded in my studio. They react in real-time to different data-sets, including climate-change information, the barrage of 24/7 news cycles or trending searches on Google. The dataworks are also an attempt to insert generative art into the history of art, exploring unsuspected aesthetic influences including postwar Abstract Expressionism, Performance Art and Op-art from the 1960s.
The ceaseless ebb and flow of information coursing through my artworks has invited me to question their materiality. For example, my large-scale projections on emblematic buildings transform their façades into ever-mutating surfaces. My public-participation projects are a good example of this approach. Using green-screen technology, I often record performers acting out climbing motions that when projected onto a building’s façade, create the illusion of their ascent to the top. By “conquering” these buildings, they become active participants of a shared history, rather than mere spectators of an urban reality.
The material stability of the screen itself has also become a source of artistic exploration. Plugged into the internet, the information coursing through my artworks seems to erode their physicality. Screens become skin-like membranes that stretch, twist and fold. Their curving shapes are better streamlined for the constant flow of information they process. After years of research, I have developed a flexible LED tile that allows me to create screens with complex curving shapes. Thus, I can make screens that respond to the specific features of the architecture that contains them.
My sculptural screens invite viewers to seek out multiple perspectives in discovering the artwork, incorporating their movements in and around the work as a crucial component of their experience. To be a spectator all too often means to remain on the sidelines of what we are watching, a numbing experience that provokes alienation and disengagement. I want my artwork to activate an engaged viewer, one that experiences seeing as grounded in a moving sentient body. These heightened states of attention allow memories to settle more deeply. Informed by these more vibrant recollections, I believe we are better equipped to face the many challenges that lie ahead.