“Was not their mistake once more bred of the life of slavery that they had been living?—a life which was always looking upon everything, except mankind, animate and inanimate—‘nature,’ as people used to call it—as one thing, and mankind as another, it was natural to people thinking in this way, that they should try to make ‘nature’ their slave, since they thought ‘nature’ was something outside them” — William Morris

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Gigantic Walls of Visual Feedback

When you allow one recording device to record another of its kind, or a glitch in its own system, as Steve Calvert is doing, it happens. I'm still too blown away to know exactly what to say about these. I'm someone whose house is full of Bridget Riley reproductions of varying sizes, and I recently fell in love with Yukultji Napangati's work. So as you can imagine I'm falling for Calvert's work in a big way.

The above image is the result of photocopiers feeding back, if you can believe. They remind me of Comora Tolliver's work in Mylar and the mirrored “carpets” of Farmanfarmian. It's a lesson in the strangeness of sensuality and the stunning-ness of withdrawal all at once.

Xeroglyphy -- The xeroglyph produces an imitation of resemblance; true simulacra in that they are literally copies without original, mimetic of some pythagorean realm which cannot exist. Summoned by the nervous human impulse to find or force a familiar symmetry, the face, in the fold-between, making meaning from the maya matrix, active interstice of collision betwixt memory sensation and attention, unfolds with a simply repeated Rorschach effect. The xeroglyphic effect has become our signature house-special generative procedural technique. Produced by cultivating an internal feedback system within the cycle of a standard digital photocopier, scan-lines reverse-engineered by a cross-platform machine-translation of the equally compelling video-feedback marvel. Generating a consistent matrix of symbolic-simulations, the process has produced a discretely constrained yet near infinite variable of emergent graphical lexicography, scrollable and scaleable to any conceivable output dimension. Invented in the summer of 2000, many of my art applications of the intervening decade diverge from a struggle to resolve an explication for this remarkable phenomenon.

Photocopier feedback follows a generative ruleset analogous to that of video feedback, but with horizontal rather than spiral articulation. The 'original' or seed image is any incidental bit of optical noise or surface contrast, presented at random in the initiatory step. The process is manual, but otherwise autocatalytic. The body is moving much too quickly to be called 'drawing'. The artist is a component servo-mechanism, catalytic spark in an integrated circuit, initiating an electro-mechanical feedback loop. Her presence and attention, reflection, gentle pre-cognitive vibrations. aspriational coaxing-forward of the gaze, the process shuffles itself toward the reader, raising harmonic nodes of emergent coherency, transitory identities auto-selectively self-organizing. Feedback's concatenating effect applies in many electrical, vibrational, and acoustic devices... most famously, feedback most often makes its introduction in popular 60's music. I have taken as my practice, the liberal exploration, interpretation, and dissemination of such cybernetic riddles presented by the feedback phenomenon. It remains my primary orbital thesis, mode and modus, key thematic instrument for creative inquiry.

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