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Code as a Pillar

By: Geeb
On: December 14, 2010

Selected Installation for Test Pattern, Sound Check an Arts Technology exhibition in the University Galleries in Normal, IL.

About the Installation

This is installation consists of corrugated tubing, PVC pipe, 4 computers and 4 monitors. The project contains around 800 feet of black tubing and wire. Four monitors display hacked .jpg images with implanted code from my very own story. Each chapter of the novel makes one image and all are displayed in a loop via the monitors positioned in the center. Overall, the form looks like a futuristic black tree that is holding up the building.

code pillar sketch 01 1024x768 Code as a Pillar

Initial sketch of the installation.

The piece discusses the creative fluidity of code, the forms it can take, and also, the importance of code for modern day artists. Code can be computerized, a spoken language, a non-spoken language, DNA, our daily routines, step-by-step processes, etc. Everything we do on a daily basis can be rendered down to a single bit of code, a binary yes or no. One bit of code can also be seen as one idea that is communicated from one entity to another. In this technology dependent world, it seems every thing we interact with on a daily basis relies on a form of digital communication. Knowing this, I firmly believe that everyone individual should have basic code skills before they leave high school. Not understanding how to code today is like not knowing how to read the dictionary 100 years ago. Code is the language of our society and we all need to know how to communicate it.

code as pillar finished 300x225 Code as a Pillar

Near the finish line.

This installation communicates these ideas to the world from the point-of-view of a developing artist. I originally found code to be an extremely structured and static thing. It contained it’s set of strict rules, syntax and barriers. However, as I began to learn how to use computer code as art, I began to see its flexibility in the creative process. It is no longer a barrier, but another tool at my disposal. With Code as a Pillar, I wanted to find a way to take a digital code format that has been so regimented in it’s form (how it is written and how it is displayed) and work against it.

code as pillar 01 Code as a Pillar

Opening day of the exhibition.

For some reason, I wanted to hack an image. I decided to look at a simple .jpg file and open it in a text editor. I started removing each line and each character until the file would open but display nothing. Eventually, I landed on the minimum characters required for the file to still open properly. From there, I used this empty .jpeg as a template to recreate visual representation of each chapter of a story I had written. By this I mean, I simply copied the text of a chapter, pasted it into the empty .jpg, saved it and produced a random result. The outcome was 12 colorful, corrupt images.

The Statement

I very much enjoyed this idea of my ability as creative to corrupt the nature of programming to produce something of artistic value. Turning the .jpg into a corrupt file and forcing programs to display them has an empowering effect. As a society, we get so wrapped up in how things are and we never look at how things could be different. Have we really exhausted every form of representation a digital image can take? At the root of all of this lies this idea that code has become an important tool in the arsenal of any artist. It is to be used in tandem with classical art theories and share the space in which they are exhibited. I wanted this installation to be a pillar, holding up the structures of the gallery, with a classical form and a codebase at heart. It represents the desperate need to marry these two forms of art&emdash;fine art and technological art.

The beauty of code can surprise you.

Technology means almost everything to me. I believe it is the only form in which human beings can evolve. Through tech we are able to provide a better life for everyone. Code allows us to understand the data-driven world around us. I grew up being ridiculed for my love of technology, and I want to leave this world with the term nerd being a respected title. I believe that only technology, communication, and education can lead us all to a world were we see each other as one, not individuals with individual titles.

Read more about the show in the Pantagraph.

And at the University Galleries home page.

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