Dehumanizing the Human Body

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Paul Vanouse’s Items 1-2000: Dehumanizing the Human Body (1996)

A former pre-med student and artist, Vanouse created this piece with both a purpose and to be ironic. A primary purpose of this was to be able to re-create the dissection of a human body by pulling from 40GB of data from scanning the barcodes from different positions. The barcodes and scanner are set up to replicate the movements of a scalpel to further the realism. This became the closest thing in terms of obtaining information to dissecting a human body without actually having to do so.

The piece is also ironic in its focus on ethics and the separation of humans in science. The use of barcodes as labels helps to separate the realism of the human body and ethics to a documentation of body parts and data. The visual being depicted heavily with data resembles the connection between people and just being another number, or in this case a list of body parts.

The cadaver is actually a convict whose body was donated to science, but used as art instead of the organs being donated to people in a hospital. This strikes heavy on the emphasis of ethics in this piece which for the artist was part of the reason he didn’t go into medicine as a career path. The body is still used in a practical manner besides art as a way to replicate human dissection using a combination of computers screens, data, and the body’s presence itself.

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Dehumanizing the Human Body

CAD and CAM sculpture prototyping

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Dan Collins’ Twister (2003)

The work is created by a set of data collected by a full body laser scanner. This scan allows data to be collected from an artists body from every angle in order to create very accurate 3d models.

The work was created to bridge the gap between the real-physical world and virtual space in two ways. Firstly the sculpture was created from a set of data, which resembles this connection. The idea of making a sculpture to resemble a person also helps to bridge the gap between the tangible and computers because the idea of creating a person brings a level of reality to the sculpture.

Combining the notion of data manipulation adds to this piece. The data points could be skewed and altered in order to create the effect of twisting shown in the piece. This play of data manipulation puts emphasis on the digital aspect of the piece as a result of the contrasting heavily accurately created legs of the sculpture.

CAD and CAM sculpture prototyping

“The Eternal Frame” (1975)

“The Eternal Frame” is a reenactment video made by two artist groups from San Francisco in 1975. The two groups,  T.R. Uthco and Ant Farm produced and reenacted the assassination of President John F. Kennedy from 1963. They were going for two main messages from this piece. The first was that such an event could never be reenacted and the second being how our media reacted on the situations and what they focused on. What made this piece go one step further is the level of detail that was put into the video. The creators were trying to make a statement on how we live our lives constantly paying attention to our media and how it almost gains control over how we think and feel.    

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“The Eternal Frame” (1975)

Chris Jordan – “Plastic Bottles”

“Plastic Bottles”, a work by Chris Jordan, is comprised of a digitally-constructed image of approximately two million plastic bottles. The number is significant in that it is the artist’s estimate for how many plastic bottles are used in the US every minute. From a distance the piece almost appears to be an image of static or some other sort of impressionistic visualization. Only upon close inspection does the image’s true nature become clear. The most obvious meaning that can be taken from the piece is a criticism of consumerism. The sheer number of bottles represented in the piece is only a fraction of what people use every day. However, there is an intrinsic aesthetic value to the piece as well, taking something that most would consider to be waste matter (and environmentally damaging waste matter at that) and presenting it in a way that is oddly appealing.

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Chris Jordan – “Plastic Bottles”

Challanges of Digital preservation

Roberta Friedman and Grahame Weinbren, The Erl King (1982-5)

A combination of Sigmund Freud psychoanalitics and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s poetry, this interactive video loads graphics, text, video, and audio files in order to create a narrative cinema. The idea of a dream becoming showable or physically interactive through intervention makes up this piece. The art was actually re-created with new technology and used a VM emulator in order to replicate the lag timings and code processing which the original artist created it.

The importance of the re-creation of art being identical to the original piece is that even subtle changes can create drastic interpretive effects. So in order to maintain the same meaning and feel of the artwork the delay in coding execution and periods of lag must be replicated exactly.

Challanges of Digital preservation

Living Interfaces

Interactive Plant Growing (1993) Laurent Mignonneau and Christa Sommerer

This piece was created to make a link between the physical real world of Biology and living plants to the digital world. As the plants are touched it causes a difference in the electrical potentials of the plants, picked up by a computer that difference was coded to cause the digital plants to grow at different speeds.

The natural interface mixing with the digital is what makes this work stand out. The combination of a living environment to electronics creates a completely different meaning. The ability to combine actual life with the digital world has created ethical ramifications as a result of bio-engineering. This piece in particular avoids that harm, but reveals the similar feeling of an unnatural thing in a living world.

Living Interfaces

Mez Breeze’s Code Poetry “mezangelle”

The artwork “mezangelle” isn’t an artwork so much as it is a digital language created through the Internet. The language was created by Mez Breeze and used originally in early chat rooms. Mez would take the responses to messages and mix them up. Even the word “mezangelle” has been broken up and is sometimes written as m[ez]ang.elle. In this writing, the word can have multiple means based on how the reader chooses to read the punctuation. Her works focus on using HTML coding and ASCII coding along with a multitude of other devices in order to recreate poetry. She takes a post-modern approach to the deconstruction of language, using the Internet as her forum.

What Mez Breeze was trying to do with her language was show how easy it is to create a new one. Languages are often set in stone. They have a standard, “proper” version and then a slang version that is more common. Mez Breeze was trying to break up what might have been the beginning of a “proper” chat language. She was creating a slang within a slang and effectively demonstrating that all language is arbitrary. She showed that it was simple to create another language, all you needed were people willing to speak it.

However, Mez Breeze may have missed that most languages are the way they are due to social contract. People in certain places agree to all speak a certain way so that they can all understand each other. Mez Breeze’s idea of making a new language to show how arbitrary language is might have been more effective if a standard chat language was in place.

Mez Breeze’s Code Poetry “mezangelle”