"Distinguishable from Magic," SciArt Center's art show on exhibit at Collar Works gallery in Troy, NY, explores the relationship between humanity and technology through the work of 11 artists. The show's curator, Marnie Benney, dug into the thought process behind the work of Alinta Krauth, a visual/sound/web artist currently based in Australia. Her featured work in the show is Shadows blister those who try to touch, pictured below.
Marnie Benney: How do you define technology?
Alinta Krauth: I would define technology as a tool, usually a consciously made tool by sentient beings (for example, even plants have their own types of technology), although these days people think of technology as specifically involving electronics or new media. The main reason why humans create technology is to create an extension of ourselves. We create it to assist us. Whether it is a pair of reading glasses, a car, a calculator, or a weapon, these things are made to help us with what our own bodies and minds cannot achieve. So I find technology use and creation to be a very corporeal act.
MB: How do you think technology has affected humanity, or human interaction?
AK: Well it depends what arm of technology one looks at. The technology that drove the industrial revolution, for example, ended up having some very detrimental effects on humanity (though sometimes I think we probably deserve what we’ve done to ourselves). But on the other hand a technology like the publicly accessible World Wide Web has created, for those with access to it, new possibilities for human interaction that would not have happened previously. The possibility of direct democracy and non-state actors working online to fight for freedom of information is one of the most interesting outcomes of human interaction through technology in my view.
Both artists and scientists need to have strong imaginations in order to be great in their field...
MB: How does your work address the relationship between humans and technology?
AK: Well, my work does this quite literally through audience interaction – many of my works use hand-made kinetic controls and touchable pieces that the audience uses to change and interact with digital elements. Touch is perhaps the most intimate of the senses, and interactive artworks allow the audience to become part of the work itself. I’ve also built up a body of Net artworks (perhaps also considered part of the field of ‘electronic literature’) that are solely viewable online, which allows audiences to interact through the interface of technology in their own private space. I think when a person’s own computer room becomes their portal for experiencing art, it allows for interaction without fear of the public gaze. I’m quite interested in the liminal space between interactive screen artwork and computer game, because I see them as very similar things. I use game creation software to make most of my artworks and I think this crossover allows artists to play in a world that is usually dominated by misconceptions of computer nerdism and digital violence.
Of course many of humanity’s greatest technological achievements have come directly from scientific endeavours, whether they be positive or negative. I have some upcoming artworks that look specifically at the science of weather modification and the almost-science-fiction-style technologies that have been created to achieve this. Humans using science and technology to play Mother Nature is both fascinating and very disturbing.
MB: Why does science and art, and their juxtaposition, appeal to you?
AK: As an artist who studied as a writer, the poetics of science is what appeals to me. The natural world is so incredibly beautiful and awe inspiring, and I think it is artists and scientists (and mathematicians and writers) who notice this about the world and attempt to interpret it. Artists and scientists deal with the same subject matter, but produce different outcomes in order to communicate with different audiences. Both artists and scientists need to have strong imaginations in order to be great in their field – the Newtons, Einsteins, and Hawkings of the world would not be such well known names if they weren’t able to look beyond the world as it seems, and this is also true of artists. Every artist needs to be a little bit of a scientist in order to spur their curiosity for the world, and every scientist needs to be a little bit of an artist in order to be innovative. Creativity is what makes innovation, and thus creativity directly influences technology – both in its creation and in its use.
All images courtesy of the artist.