In the late 60s computer art was, arguably, more fashionable than it is now; the past seemed more futuristic, more excited about the possibility of technology. And as tech has crept up on society, maybe we’ve become less experimental in its use in art?
Untitled, Matilda Skelton Mace
This weekend, the post-graduate students on the Goldsmiths MA in Computational Art, are exhibiting their final exhibition in Elephant and Castle called TEST SIGNAL. Continuing the cross over between computer science and art, with a particular interest in interactivity. We caught up with one of the artists, Richard Lockett, before the show.
In the past you've worked with more traditional art forms like drawing, what was it that drew you to working on a digital platform?
I wanted to find out more about technology because I always liked to include that in my work as it allows you to go into different areas more rapidly, using sounds, music, or having a multi-dimensional practice - a lot of different things happening at once. That's kind of what I wanted, to have more skills to be able to make installations that fused the digital with the traditional. I find that exciting, it allows you more possibilities.
What does Test Signal stand for?
It feels like we're putting out a signal for other people to experience, and we're all experimenting with new forms. We're putting out that signal like a show, and I suppose it relates to coding and a computer as well - talking to the computer. You'll code something to make sure that it's reciprocal - often you put out a signal to receive something back. I think all the artists are using their signals and you'll get stimulated as you walk around by the different experiences and codes that have been created.
What was the starting point for your work in the show?
My work is usually about choosing certain objects that are recognisable, but that also have significance. That interests me. Trousers aren't just trousers, they're also a collection of ideas; they have a lot of associations that come with them. So I want to use recognisable things, but in a strange way, re-looking at different objects for longer than you normally would, like a meditation or something. Computers keep looping through and checking the code, so I wanted to use that in animation to extend everyday moments. A digital loop can sometimes be an extended moment.
Do you feel that the rapid development of technology has changed the role of an artist?
Yes, because a lot of artists are very aware of the internet and their virtual presence now. Maybe artists don't hold as much authority to lead with their ideas as they used to, because I think people now look for these in their surroundings and networks. Creatively, the advance in digital technology has opened out their designs and people seem to be satisfied with this. We've got a sped up way of living now, so things like big ideas don't seem to interest us so much. I'm trying to turn that on its head and use technology to slow things down.
What's the future for digital art?
Artists deal with the society they live in. The digital is so much a part of our lives now it's becoming almost organic. Artists want to be part of the avant-garde and the avant-garde is digital so we shouldn't be making those distinctions anymore. Digital has affected how everything looks so it's perfectly possible that we could exist in our own works of art. Everything could be turned on its head, the possibilities are endless.
TEST SIGNAL, a digital art event, is showing at Hotel Elephant, Unit A and B, 40 - 42 Newington Causeway, SE1 6DR, London, over 12th and 13th September.
Text Joe Cohen
Images courtesy Jen Sykes, Matilda Skelton Mace and Richard Lockett