Mirror Mirror, Corporate Art, I am the Fairest of the Mart
Boys! Girls! Friends! Lovers!
I was eight years old when I went to the Children’s Museum in Los Angeles the first time. While there, I went into a room that had a weird trail-following back-lit wall. The wall was green and had a trace of my body on it, a trace that followed me in hot pink, like a shadow on mescaline, around the room. I was thinking of that experience when I saw this installation of an OLED-powered device. I can imagine that the piece would be absolutely fabulous as a palette for a choreographer or otherwise visually-oriented stage director, but honestly I don’t see the big deal about this particular piece as an objet d’art. It’s a series of sensor-activated lights that follows you around and, as such, is a newer version seemingly of the whole shadow-wall idea. So the folks at rAndom International, in conjunction with technology powerhouse Philips, and frankly I’m a little frightened.
Now, Now, wait: I know, I know: “but David, part of the FUN behind a piece like this is the technology behind it; isn’t the technology behind the OED so FASCINATING?”
It might well be; and to those of you so technologically inclined, it really is fascinating. I posted the link to the OED Phillips information in part because, frankly, I read the whole thing and still don’t understand it. I am rather excited, though, of the idea of seeing a show like this or this with the screen placed upstage in a couple of choice scenes; but as a piece that stands alone it feels more like an expensive party trick than a piece of art. I suppose that the technological achievements behind pieces like this are meant to be viewed as coequal with their aesthetic value. I guess. but I’m also one of those people who finds digitization to be a little frightening when in overzealous hands. Definitely, the piece looks cool, and is undoubtedly a lot of fun to play around with. The interactivity of art is great for bringing people into the process of it, thereby joining the artist with his audience in ways that were unheard of back in the days of oil paints and water colors. Just the same, doesn’t the synthesis between art and technology run the risk of creating machines that can eventually produce works that are totally fascinating and simultaneously devoid of humanity? Where will we be then?.
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