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Computers Watching Movies

High-definition video with stereo audio, 15 minutes
Computers Watching Movies

Computers Watching Movies shows what a computational system sees when it watches the same films that we do. The work illustrates this vision as a series of temporal sketches, where the sketching process is presented in synchronized time with the audio from the original clip. Viewers are provoked to ask how computer vision differs from their own human vision, and what that difference reveals about our culturally-developed ways of looking. Why do we watch what we watch when we watch it? Will a system without our sense of narrative or historical patterns of vision watch the same things?

Computers Watching Movies was computationally produced using software written by the artist. This software uses computer vision algorithms and artificial intelligence routines to give the system some degree of agency, allowing it to decide what it watches and what it does not. Six well-known clips from popular films are used in the work, enabling many viewers to draw upon their own visual memory of a scene when they watch the work. The scenes are from the following movies: 2001: A Space Odyssey, American Beauty, Inception, Taxi Driver, The Matrix, and Annie Hall.

See video

Airlock Park

Custom Sony PlayStation 3 game system, HDTV, audio speakers
2011
Artwork by [user-name]
Artwork by [user-name]
Artwork by [user-name]
Artwork by [user-name]
Artwork by [user-name]
Artwork by [user-name]
Artwork by [user-name]

Airlock Park is an interactive, screen-based work powered by a PlayStation 3 game machine.  Influenced both by the history of moving images as well as by the spatial dynamics of video games, this work pulls image fragments from many sources -- from cinema and art history to internet video and video game footage -- to construct virtual tableaux, or scenes.  Intended to be viewed in a darkened space, the work alludes to themes of media legacies, and of the obsolescence of technology.

Lincolnshire Poacher

Printed vinyl, wood, plastic, FM transmitter, radios, audio
2009
Artwork by [user-name]

“- Shortwave numbers stations are a social experiment being conducted by the aliens.
- Actually they are mostly tenticle-enlargement spam, but we don't have the proper char-set support yet. Hopefully this will be included in Vista.(1)”

Lincolnshire Poacher combines a number of my fascinations: Google maps, text, sound, nature, camouflage, humor(2), and enigma. Its subject is the most famous of the cold war era Number Stations(3): the similarly named Lincolnshire Poacher. The Lincolnshire Poacher broadcast for over 30 years always using the same format: the (sampled) voice of an English woman reading out sets of 5 digit numbers, prefaced by 10 repetitions of one set of 5 numbers and bookended by several bars of the English folk song “The Lincolnshire Poacher”. I am intrigued by Number Stations for a variety of reasons, particularly their reductivist use of text to pass secrets by the most public of methods.

The piece’s main element is a vector drawing based on the Google maps aerial photograph of Akrotiri, Cyprus: the presumed location of the Lincolnshire Poacher. An orange dot on the drawing marks the likely location of the station's transmitter believed to have been operated by the British Secret Intelligence Service. A series of additional orange dots within the exhibit lead to the location of a sound piece: a recreation of an actual broadcast by the Lincolnshire Poacher station made in October 2004.

I have been fascinated, if not obsessed, with Google maps for almost two years. The resulting undertakings are a reflection of my examinations of mimetic process, a sense of unrequited wanderlust, and a latent fondness for the cold war's quaintly stylized tropes of aggression: poisoned umbrellas tips, modems in the stratosphere(4), and Number Stations. A reflection of my own peripatetic history (I am a multinational and have travelled widely) Lincolnshire Poacher is simultaneously symptomatic of my rooted present. I am now an armchair traveler who indulges my yearnings through virtual wandering in forbidden spaces.

1 - Comments about an August 2006 article on Slashdot about VoIP Number Stations: http://it.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/08/05/216229

2 - I was pleased to discover during the course of my research that there is a type of artisanal cheese named Lincolnshire Poacher.

3 - for additional information about number stations see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Numbers_station

4 - sputnik

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