04/20: Underspecified Systems

What is an underspecified system? Orkan Telhan’s class Visual Epistemology takes a look at artwork and installations with very specific properties. These systems must be intentionally incomplete, change over time, have some sort of agency and performace, and respond to some external force or input. I used the Waterfall Swing and Reading chair as examples. The waterfall swing prints water based on the position and trajectory of the person on the swing. The reading chair reacts to the weight and position of both reader and books stored within. Other students brought an interesting array of projects to discuss. One work used a pole with LEDs and a long exposure photograph to show WiFi levels across a specific site. The image captures the light from the pole, but the lights are reacting to ambient background radio waves. Frances Alys’ The Green Line was discussed. His work involved dribbling green paint along the 1948 ceasefire boundary between Israel and the West Bank. The work is incredibly interesting, but raises the question of is it really underspecified? Footage of the act of walking along with a paint can dribbling green paint is overlaid with commentary from various sources. The context of the pieces changes as Middle East politics change, but the work acts as an artifact and does not continually react to this context. The project Spore 1.1 has a rubber plant purchased from Home Depot hooked up to a watering system which regulates water flow rates based on the stock price of Home Depot. [Spoiler alert: the stock rose high enough that the plant died from over watering.]

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