I had a great time at the CSULB art galleries this week. There was a very fascinating exhibit involving music in an attempt to raise questions about the authenticity of human emotion conveyed through technological mediums. The exhibit was structured as 4 automated instruments set up to surround a small, closed cube-shaped room with one door in and out. In the cube-shaped room, the walls, floors, and ceiling was covered by mirrors. between the mirrors at several points, there were breaks where small sensors peaked out. Using parameters such as motion and distance, the sensors would trigger the outside instruments to make noise.
One instrument was a kick drum from a drum kit set up with an automated pedal to strike it when a certain sensor was triggered.
Another instrument was a keyboard set to play different chords or single notes when different sensors were tripped throughout the mirror room. This was wired very impressively. Nails were put through the keys of this instrument and certain nails were pulled by certain sensors.
The next instrument was a guitar with a metal slide (used to slide up the string to give a glissando effect) attached. This guitar was run through two effect pedals before being played out of an amplifier. Unfortunately, this instrument was not in full working order as the slide apparatus was supposed to change the pitch of the instrument, but did not.
The final instrument wan interesting set-up where a robotic arm on a turn table would run across a badly scratched record and play it seemingly randomly. The triggers in the cube room however controlled the robotic arm of this turn table to move to different parts of the record. At times the record would play through normally adding to the variety.
I really loved visiting this exhibit. I thought the music being made by the instruments was very interesting and I loved that I only later found out it was being made by my classmates moving around in the center room. I also believe that the questions raised by the artist were very important ones to ask in the age we live in. So many relationships between people exist only through a screen and there is a certain “grey” area on whether that can ever be as good as being face-to-face with another person. As technology advances, the experience of communicating through technology will become more and more real. The lines where reality ends and virtual reality begins will soon become blurred. In other words, imagine how you will feel when it will be common to see a screen with such high resolution that you will not be able to tell it apart from a window. If you had a conversation with someone through that “window”, did you really “meet” them? Were they in the room with you? Explain your answer to that. Furthermore, if you see a concert online, were you really there? Most would say no, but we can experience it happening live with today’s technology. Does that change the answer? Would technology that allows you to hear, touch, smell, and see it all in real-time change that answer?? As the technology of communicating an experience develops (whether that experience be seeing a loved one, a child visiting a parent in prison, a job interview, etc.), we must contemplate these questions. They will quickly move into HUGE moral and sociological grounds. Not-to-mention the psychological implications of what humans will perceive as “real” in the coming years.
I had a chance to talk with the artist who turned out to be a really nice person. He was also very open to my comments about the work which I appreciate greatly. Unfortunately I really didn’t have any of what I said he formulated then and I think I came off a bit superficial. haha Hopefully he saw past that.
In addition to the fun experience of visiting the gallery, I enjoyed the visual aspects of it so much that I incorporated the experience into my own art at home during the week. These are photos taken from inside the gallery and mirror room that were edited using iphone editing applications.
Close-up pictures of the kick-drum design: