8 Bits or Less
For some time, some of my critical writing involved musings about portable devices and ubiquitous computing. With the advent of the of personal devices like PDA’s, personal GPS, pagers, and cellular phones, channels for technological artistsic expression were surely broadening.
In early 2000, I purchased a Casio WQV-1 WristCam watch on a whim, and it has become one fo my favorite tools. It is simultaneously the embodiment of technological determinism and its antithesis, as it was once the ‘next big thing’, and also a device that challenges the idea that digital art is about resolution and verisimilitude (as the WQV-1 is black and white at 100×100 pixels resolution), thus resembling older technologies such as 1980′s style personal computers.
Currently, I have over 3000 images on file that were taken with the WQV. As I was experimenting with it around the first half of 2000, I noticed that I could make crude video with serial imagery, which hearkened back to a digital Muybridge sort of effect. Thus numerous sequences were assembled in Premeiere and saved as digital video.
The result was that at some point I had spliced together nearly five minutes of video, and somehow it all seemed to fit into a narrative of free association, if one were to take a page from Dulac’s process of Surrealist filmmaking.
Also, I had been looking at new media that was being created using retro-tech, and came across a series of musical pieces by The 8 Bit Construction Set, which inspired me to consider making a series of short video artworks based on the work based on music video formats used in Haymarket Riot.
In the case of these videos, a point of departure is chosen from a fairly well- known piece of postmodern theory, and then is juxtaposed with a hyperbolic narrative that I feel represents the hysterical nature of post-9/11 culture. Therefore, the fitst three videos flicker between lucidity and hallucination through a dim mirror of the pinhole digital lens of my watch camera.
8 Bits or Less (4:47, Q1 2002): An artist who has become blind (whether physically or ideologically) has resorted to viewing his world throught the prosthetic devices that constitute his sense, like cell phones, and wristcams. The result is a distored landscape that considers Sitationist theory, surveillance culture, identity, and alien abduction. Soundtrack for the youtube version is “Dollars” by Cory Arcangel.
A Wristful of Bits (4:34, Q4 2002, Featuring Holly Hughes): Our protagonist feels that he has been dependent on prosthetic sight for too long, and any distinction between the real and simulated seem blurred at best. The video contrasts a musing on reality in the digital world with a surreal story about the rise and fall of animatronic animals, and how the world was saved by performance artist Holly Hughes.
A Few Bits More: The upgrade hinted at in 8BoL has come. ALthough not immediately evident, an upgrade to color has come with slightly better resolution. However the usefulness of being upgraded is highly problematic, as it presents a series of new dilemmas.
Close Vision: (Fourth in the Trilogy) Unseen worlds observed prosthetically at close range. The camera is used at macro range, and strange abstract lanscapes are the result. Deleuze and Guattari make a brief appearance…