activated space
 origins  david cunningham
'Colour 0.8'

an installation for any number of computer screens

Colour 0.8 on 2 computers

An seemingly random series of coloured rectangles appear on a group of computer monitors.  Each computer runs the same program generating the coloured rectangles drifting in and out of sync with each other.

This work began as an attempt to do something very simple with a computer.  It has remained so.  But within that simple quest I identified the solution to something that had concerned me for a long time - how, with a computer, does one begin to deconstruct the medium, to reveal the structural idiosyncracies of the technology?  With, for instance, the technology of video in the 1970s this was a qualitatively different task - the technology had a clearly defined structural function, the artist working with video at that time was able to define and expose the inherent qualities of the medium in a coherent way precisely because of the limited technical possibilities of the medium and proceed to address the wider cultural relationship of the medium to the historical context of that technology, in particular television.

Whereas analogue video performs a few comparatively basic functions and nothing else, a computer is a series of computational structures capable of performing an endless variety of functions dependent on instruction.  Roughly summarised, with video the rule is point and shoot, with a computer you have to tell it what to do.

A computer is a flexible tool, a duality of hardware and software, the one inert without the other.  The inner workings are invisible impulses of electrons driven by codes.  To expose this inner mechanism and investigate the (multiple) functions  of this dual technology invites the destruction of the machine itself - rather like taking a living creature to bits - a situation which would not accomplish an aim of deconstruction coherent to the viewer, simply presenting an apparently broken computer.

So this work attempts to examine how we look at a computer - how we understand the screen and how that is placed within a culture of computer screen environments.  The screen presents a series of coloured rectangles in an irregular series, the colours are basic familiar computer screen colours.  The interior configuration of the rectangle on the screen is offset, a discontinuity which invites the viewer to question the situation.  This is the simplest form of asymmetry possible given the other structural concerns and constraints involved in this work.  On a single screen the work appears simply to be a kind of pretty modernist screensaver, on multiple screens the unsynchronised non-images constitute familiarity but construct overtones of dysfunction or test mode.  Low semantic values creating a high level of discontinuity.

David Cunningham  2002

run 'Colour 0.8' online  (note - to exit this sequence, bookmark this page first - use the bookmark to return)

return to: Activated Space