lia petronio

visual and language arts

Month: February, 2013

A Virtual World; Finite Systems for Infinitum

Cyberspace is a real place. How close to reality must it become in order to be indistinguishable? If people are to enjoy virtual worlds more than the origonal world, can they stay there? It is evident the goal of virtual reality and cyberspace is to continue to evolve forever, or until it reaches a stage that requires something else entirely. When cyberspace becomes livable will people be responsible for their actions towards cyber people? Or cyber nature? Could people begin to go to work in these places? Could different realities be for different people with different ways and different government? Can you die in cyberspace? Can you experience feelings that are unfeelable? This type of virtual reality, on a simpler note, could allow for a whole new genre of art. Pursuing the motif of viewer to artwork/artist interaction this medium allows for the artist to express himself in ways previously unconceivable. But if the artist is not writing the program, but simply using it, is he less responsible for the artwork than otherwise? Being it takes decades for these programs to be developed, and they continue to build perhaps infinitely, this question may have a simpler answer. The artist is responsible for the product, which is the artwork. The program is an artwork in its own right; separate and interconnected to every product it produces. Products of the virtual programming are different from other artistic products. It is a different experience, one in which the viewer becomes completely and literally submerged in the work in the form of experience. In this way, the interactor is completely connected to the work. Because these technologies develop gradually, the audience becomes accustomed to the advances and do not feel alienation towards its capacity. Even if the interactor has no idea how the program functions he can enjoy it anyhow. The physical interaction and hyper-sensory experience of a cyberspace reality is enough to engulf the participants. It may ironically be a different case for the earlier invention of Harold Cohen’s AARON. Because this little robot creates drawings that recall primal visual language or doodles, there is juxtaposition between form and function. A robot, which serves as a futuristic icon, takes on the activity of a primal being, or even a human. In the cyberspace realities, the program does what a human cannot; reach the intangible, pursue function infinitely. In this case, cyberspace becomes exactly what it seems a computer should do, whereas the AARON does the opposite. I find this contrast between form and function magnificent. The activity of the robot is performative, unexpected, and visually compelling. Perhaps the doodles become more valuable when made by the AARON than if they were made by a human. Although the human made the AARON, they both become responsible for the outcome. Similarly, as Sol LeWitt created a process for an outcome and presented it in the form of directions, which a group of artists would follow. The directions were designed to have seemingly infinite variations, depending on the draftsmen’s decisions. In order to do this Sol LeWitt had to make the directions specific in some areas and open-ended in others. For example he designated a location for a point to be located in relation to the wall, such as to make a line from the center of the right edge of the wall to the point in the middle of the center of the top edge of the wall. Depending on the dimensions of the wall, this line would vary. He would also often specify the starting point of a line or shape, but not where it ends, leaving it up to the draftsmen and therefore allowing chance to become part of the final product. This is similar to the nature of AARON, in that it is developed from combinations of information that can be performed in almost infinite ways. Both are structures for spontaneous systems of action. Each drawing is fresh and self reliant, unraveling nature and turning it into something concrete and systematized to produce spontaneous results—like the universe.

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