I am always looking to create a spectacle and transform the ordinary or unseen into the extraordinary. I add interactivity to my art as a way to invite curiosity, participation, and play. Overall, my interest is in understanding human interaction and experiences with art objects and how technology can cultivate new experiences. How do we make sense of our fragmented technological existence? Why are we compelled to continually interact with technology? In our engagement, how do we interpret our relationship with the technological and how will we evolve because of this new extension of ourselves?
My research and creative activity can be defined by three stages of evolution. The first stage could be described as being focused purely on producing art objects; that is, a physical object is created for people to view, it is then mentally processed, and the viewer continues on without any additional interaction or participation. The second stage involved combining physical art objects with the intangible technological side and the introduction of viewer participation as part of the art-making process. These changes resulted in the viewer transitioning from passive consumer to active participant. My current art interests continue to explore this form of interactivity and participation but layering in additional elements such as post-internet art, spectacle, and themes centered around our hybrid and fragmented technological existence.
In my earlier work, I focused on interests such as the lived experience, popular culture, and politics. My art was often presented in the form of physical art objects, such as a drawing, painting, sculpture, or film. As evidenced by my piece, “Red, White, & Blue-Bot,” I was moved by the ideals of the American dream and how society continues to pursue it even though the dream is in a constant state of decay. Using 20,000 preserved blue bottle flies that I hatched, harvested, and preserved, I constructed a 40” x 50” American flag that was then entombed in a large acrylic case as a way of referencing history as a contributing factor to the decay. The loaded symbol of the American flag draws you in, and as the spectacle unfolds, you realize that the flag is constructed from meticulously placed blue bottle flies.
The second evolution in my creative activity focused on the question: how do we sculpt and manipulate technology, which is nebulous and intangible? And what happens when we begin to deconstruct the narratives to accommodate technological consumption changes? Immediately I began transitioning the narratives in my work from a linear output to something that resembled a much more fragmented state. I also became acutely aware of the hybridization that was taking place when all of these themes, ideas, and elements become combined with each other. This led me to a broader understanding of how the spaces and objects that technology permeates all begin to take on a similar fragmented existence. Recognition of this evolution profoundly affected the focus of my art as well as my art creation process. I began exploring themes found within hacker culture and street art communities. This led to a collaboration with a group of artists, designers, and academics on an immersive experience that would allow me to further research the possibilities of combining all of these elements into a singular experience. We engaged in world-building, storytelling, episodic filmmaking, real-time performance, and LARPing (live-action role-playing). The result of this collaboration was an immersive experience that we called a M.O.L.I.E. (Multimedia Online Learning Immersive Experience). The experience explored human psychology and behavior during disasters and catastrophes while incorporating themes found in popular culture. We placed participants in a virtual environment that allowed them to create a customized experience that was unique to their own lived experience. The experience utilized interactivity and participation through social media platforms, content management systems, virtual environments, and participant-generated content to evolve an online virtual world. The experience garnered six Gold and Silver American Advertising Awards and recognition by popular culture personalities like Conan O’Brien, Bill Maher, and online websites such as Teen Vogue and the Daily Mail.
My work continues to focus on hybridization and the continually evolving relationship we have with technology. This transition has created many uncomfortable moments of realization, especially that my work and understanding of self are changing into something that has more footing in the technological, and is not easily understood due to its continual evolution. As my research and creative activity continue to evolve, I hope to explore how technology will integrate and permanently change our existence. How will it continue to usher in a rapid political and cultural revolution?
Although these questions have become the foundation for future work, I realize that as I continue to explore these topics, I have always been seeking answers to these questions. This can be seen in my art piece titled, “Influences of The Sympathetic Nervous System.” Viewers interact with videos submitted by online participants by pressing arcade buttons embedded in a large pink silicone object. Doing so changes the narrative that unfolds in the form of a large projected face.
I often imagine the rise of a technological world as an ominous cloud that until recently existed only on the horizon. However, that distant future is now a contemporary context that brings with it an often uneasy existence and an unknown future. Technology will continue to permeate all spaces and fragment our existence. Will it become smarter and evolve into something that opens up new intellectual possibilities, cures diseases, and allows us to create experiences that go far beyond our current physical and technological abilities? Just like our physical existence, my work is at a major crossroads. This is evident in my recent work titled “Destroy This Art.” The piece invites participants to engage in the internal decision-making process of using sledgehammers to physically destroy a large LED sign that reads “Destroy This Art.” Participants’ decision-making processes and interactions are captured by motion-activated cameras and then posted online as a historical timeline of interactions. The completion of the experience happens with the physical destruction of the sign and the resultant capture of the performance into a digital format. This piece symbolically represents the next stage of evolution of my art journey from physical art object making that is only augmented by technology into art that will be governed by a new set of technological standards and rules. All of this foreshadows my own transition from the physical to the technological and acts as evidence of my evolution as an artist.