Saturday, October 21, 2017

Kathy McTavish's Chance Unfolds at the Tweed

"Code is a literature ::: a pattern language ::: a score. It is a choreography ::: a performance. A code renderer is the weaver ::: the mill ::: the alchemist ::: the wizard. Code is a spell ::: an incantation ::: an intent. When code is performed it is an activation of text ::: a linguistic gymnastics." --Kathy McTavish

Thursday evening the Tweed Museum of Art held its opening reception for Kathy McTavish's stimulating multi-disciplinary full immersion experience called Chance. Chance is an exploration of the  intersections between art and technology, humans and machines, the networks, sound and mathematical systems.

This installation includes a landscape of painted walls representing the human in print. Multichannel sound surrounds networked machine quartets that are choreographed to draw interconnected chance-infused, emergent and interconnected animated patterns.

In addition to being an aesthetic experience, the exhibit is intellectually and philosophically stimulating. The concept of chance is as old as the history of mankind. In early times it was bound up with notions of randomness and fate, with multiple layers of religious belief systems indexed in. Likewise there's something perpetually intriguing about risk and games of chance. So it was against this backdrop I was most interested in this latest creation that was now brought public.

Chance not only generates images, sounds and sensations, it also sparks new thoughts which it would seem interesting to explore in a deeper dialogue. The idea that the computers render infinitely and are never the same is interesting because despite the fact that the room is constantly changing (including transformations as the external light shifts from day to night) why does it feel like at some point something is missing. That something is the story, or the person behind the code. A full engagement with the installation might lead one to ask questions about the meaning of existence, and what it means to be human.

According to McTavish, the components of the exhibition evoke a sense of change, infinite flow, emergence, friction and resonance within the enclosed space. It reminds me of markets -- the commodities exchanges, Wall Street -- and how these, too, perpetually change, have their rhythms and apparent randomness within structure.

The audio portion of the exhibit is equally unscripted, which she describes as "an ever-shifting blend of found sound and the hum of electrically-generated sine waves."

Last night I participated in an art show in which one of my own paintings was titled "At the Intersection of Time and Chance."

Many artists have found new expressions by means of the incorporation of randomness and chance into their work. (I think here of Max Ernst, for example.) Kathy McTavish has performed her explorations in a 21st century era in which digital phenomenon have become transcendant.

Here is some additional information about the work, which I imported from her web page associated with the show.


Christine Strom & Erika Mock
at the entrance to the exhibit.
Chance is a synergetic installation that combines code, image, and sound to create a cross-sensory, polyphonic experience. A landscape of painted walls and multi-channel sound encloses the viewer. Choreographed by code, a circle of machine quartets investigate chance, emergence, friction, resonance and change ::: a cloud orchestration.

Chance opens October 19, 2017. The year-long exhibit will be a living, evolving space ::: a residency / habitation / research lab / performance space. Printed artifacts will be left in the space to give the feel of blueprints / notes ::: a score. The Sax gallery at the Tweed is a luminous space. Its many skylights filter shifting seasons and variable weather patterns ::: a photosynthetic recitation. It provides a sanctuary ::: a place for rest and reflection.

This is a time of great planetary change and political turmoil. Chance has evolved under these skies. There is a machine / human friction present in the space. As the work evolves I have a sense of trembling before god ::: a struggle towards language & coherence ::: an ongoing ritual of conceal & reveal / imprint & erasure / struggle & resistance. As a queer artist I inhabit a landscape of the infinite between. This work embeds an infinite series of choreographed transitions. Machine renderers will perform their twists and turns (their monitor-bound between-ness) 24/7 for a year. The marks across the wall echo the arc of my body.

Chance explores the intersections between art & technology / humans & machines / polyphony & mathematical systems. My generative artwork is inspired by the mathematical representations of ecosystems that I studied while a student at the University of MN, Duluth. Mathematical models are often used to represent physical systems ::: our ideas about how the world works. They are like a score / orchestration / script / generative code. Algorithmic blueprints draw the contours of change and movement ::: convergences, divergences, emergent patterns and cascading, system-level impacts. Mathematical models can depict the complexity and profound tension between independent threads and the bounds of interconnected webs ::: the polyphony of life.

Code is a literature ::: a pattern language ::: a score. It is a choreography ::: a performance. A code renderer is the weaver ::: the mill ::: the alchemist ::: the wizard. Code is a spell ::: an incantation ::: an intent. When code is performed it is an activation of text ::: a linguistic gymnastics.

In a perfect confluence of electricity, network, rhythm, memory, processing, action & reactions a program comes to life ::: Pinocchio ::: a real boi at last. The program (the cybernetic ze) speaks to us, calculates for us, responds to our touch : our keystrokes. It becomes our mirror :|: our cyborg self ::: our memory.

other thoughts

Chance is a frayed thread, a stochastic cloud, a pointillist field, a variance, a complexity, an uncertainty, a ragged line. Chance is a prayer ::: slim window of chance ::: survival in this time of profound climatic change. Evolution requires variability, chance and fruitful deviation. A system's ability to adapt to change depends on its ability to mutate ::: on trial & error & improvisation.

This installation combines code, paint, and sound. A pure tone can be modeled with a sine wave. Sounds produced by horsehair, pine pitch, metal, wood, friction, sinew, bone, breath and reed are a complex crash and tumult of waves more like an ocean than an oscilloscope. Worldly sound is gorgeous in its noise and deviance from pure tone. The exhibit blends the generated hum of sine waves hovering near 4 tonal centers with a subtle chordal wash of natural sound.

Indeterminacy ::: a line opens into a surface of possibilities. Random numbers ::: probabilities ::: a pattern emerges from the haze. Time & space carve out convergence or dissolution ::: balance, extinction or chaos.

Connectance ::: ecosystems embody the tension / balance between individual life threads and the complex web of community. Resilience of the whole depends on intricate relationships between the parts. To live in a networked, interdependent system is to be bound but also to be fed.


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The Opening Reception for Three States is from 2-5 at the newly opened Joseph Nease Gallery at the corner of First Avenue West and First Street. 


Karin Kraemer is hosting her Grand Opening from 5-8 in her new West End location. 
Come check out her new space, Duluth Pottery, which includes a studio AND a gallery.


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