My curiosity began with an animated, vintage flashing square cursor next to the title Terminal 1.0. Terminal is an installation project at Western Front in Vancouver, Canada. The installation project examines single-user interfaces, along with how technology influences the adaptation of new artistic forms. My mini blog series will follow the four-part installation project through 2017.
Media Curator, Allison Collins has curated the project so that it occupies two available spaces, one physical and one virtual. In our email exchange Collins described the physical location, “The on-site element of the project repurposes an under-used space in the Western Front building, to deliberately offer an alternative to installing a computer into a traditional exhibition space. It allows for a single user to access an intimate experience of a work created to take place on a machine.”
I asked Collins about her specific curation methods for Terminal. She stated, “The methodology was one of pairing and contrasting the possibilities for accurately conveying artworks within those two spaces.” With these methods she considered what the project addressed, which was the user-experience of the computer. What brought together these two different spaces were both the experience of artists who utilize computers to create and the viewers of the computer-based artist works. This is how her curation methodology necessitates thinking about the virtual and physical spaces as separate experiences.
Collins has navigated the different spaces to inquire with an audience for viewing a specific work on-site and other work online. Since she curated the project in Vancouver and I reside on the East Coast of the United States, my text will present the single-user experience from online viewing. The first installation is entitled Terminal 1.0 Programmed Poetry. It considers language within the broader investigations of the overall installation project. The artist and two poets presented on the webpage utilize text, while the written format was modified from a specific technological time-period. This not only demonstrates the experimental process from the 1960’s era to now, but also offers insight to how artists and poets from the Vancouver area had a role in influencing theses specific processes.
From my singular interface experience, I immediately noticed how the curation of the digital content runs parallel with the context of the selected work. The acts of composing text, distributing and reinterpreting language can be distinguished within the curation process. I have observed this by the multimedia choices of text, audio and video. These multimedia elements refer back to Collins’ curatorial selections, made specifically for the virtual space.
Collins’ text, Media Poetics: The Cut, The Context and The Cute, offers the viewer an opportunity to have a detailed insight that reaches beyond the technical elements of a computer-based work. The inclusion of social and cultural aspects of the artist creative process offers a broader depiction to the progression with technology, along with the impact the medium had for contemporary experimentation. The text depicts this with the work of each poet and artist.
Programmed Poetry regards the human element from the creative process with technology. In 1966 Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.) was formed and was based in New York City. The first large project that E.A.T. is known for is Nine Evenings. The electrical engineer at the forefront of the movement E.A.T., Billy Kluver acknowledges, from a 1995 interview with Garnet Hertz, that from his experience with E.A.T. he recognized that involvement of artists with technology has introduced a more humanizing element with the collaborative projects. Kluver’s assessment is derived from his matching of artist’s projects with knowledge from engineers. Part of his evaluation suggests that the artists brought situations to the standards of technology that were not in an engineer’s everyday routine concerning rational problems. Kluver believes the questions raised by artists concerning the use of technology brought the engineers and the technology from that time-period closer to humanity.
Programmed Poetry examines single-user interfaces from poets and artists and their own technological knowledge rather than a specific collaboration between artist and engineer. Poet, bpNichol transformed language and the viewer’s engagement with basic code. In the early 1980’s, a period of technological evolution where computers became affordable and portable, the Apple IIe was accessible on a consumer scale. bpNichol utilized the Apple BASIC programming language to animate, communicate and distribute his twelve kinetic poems, First Screening. He extends the context of code by embedding the virtual accessibility of two of the twelve poems on a 5.25 inch floppy disc that was in an edition of 100. The viewer would have needed to be code savvy to activate the text-based digital animation with the BASIC command (RUN 1748-). Reading Collins’ text reveals the human element of bpNichol’s creative process with code, which was by placing puns and language tricks to play on the commands of the program for the curious viewer. She does acknowledge bpNichol’s perspective of handling code as a space for the invitation of user interaction.
Crossing disciplinary boundaries in the 21st Century is artist and poet Tiziana La Melia. Viewing the Eyelash and the Monochrome images on the webpage, I relate back to the concept of “the cut” with the direct collage composition of each print. The two spaces La Melia is inquiring with are from the software of Word’s virtual page and the visual art space of the image plane. The Eyelash and the Monochrome image titles that begin with (Spread 1) (Spread 2) persuade my thinking of how many variations there could be of these prints. Collins’ text and the image titles inform me that La Melia’s working progress has direct links to the computer. It comes from the input of composing text and output of printed objects. In a broader context, La Melia’s project resonates with the current single-user interface by creating the unlimited ability to reinterpret content and the various transmission methods.
My intimate viewing via the Internet had the curation structure and multimedia elements aiding in my interpretation of the time-periods and specific works. The obvious limit is being absent from the physical object or moment of experiencing the physical site of Terminal 1.0. Even though I haven’t physically seen bpNichol’s First Screening run on an Apple IIe, or stood in front of Tiziana La Melia prints, I was able to mentally engage with the physical aspects of these works by invitation of Collins’ text. I do not see that I am completely missing out on the physical site, because Programmed Poetry occupies two available spaces and I experienced the work in the virtual space. The virtual space, similar to the context of the works and the curation of Programmed Poetry, has transformed the language of experiencing installation projects.
Collins, A. (2016) Media Poetics: The Cut, The Context and The Cute [Internet], Vancouver, Canada. Available from: http://terminal.front.bc.ca/ [Accessed September 10, 2016].
Hertz, G. (1995) The Godfather of Technology and Art: An interview with Billy Kluver [Internet], Vancouver, Canada. Available from: http://www.conceptlab.com/interviews/kluver.html [Accessed July 10, 2013].
By: Carrie Ida Edinger
Carrie’s interest with new media is in interdisciplinary methods and the use of the Internet as a presentation site for evolving contemporary projects.