"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 Amber Eve Anderson. Her featured work in the show is Free to a Good Home, pictured below.
Marnie Benney: How do you define technology?
Amber Eve Anderson: I think of technology as machines, but those machines are really just tools. So even though I pretty much exclusively think about technology as computers and iPhones and the Internet, I know those are only the products of the car and electricity and weaving. In fact, the jacquard loom, which was controlled by a punch card system, is considered the precursor to the computer. Technology is constantly building on itself—without the jacquard loom, we might not have Google Maps.
MB: How do you think technology has affected humanity, or human interaction?
AEA: I think technology has facilitated human interaction. Things like Facebook and FaceTime allow us to keep in touch with friends and family that don't necessarily live nearby. Because of the Internet, we know so much more about the world in general, and we are able to explore other people and places from the comfort of our own homes. Moreover, technology has allowed us to travel great distances in a short amount of time, meaning it facilitates more frequent face-to-face interactions, which allows us to live much further from our friends and family in the first place, but also gives us the opportunity to interact with people from vastly different cultures. From the train to the telephone to dating sites, technology brings people together.
...the sorts of questions scientists and artists ask are very different, which is why I think science and art are so well-suited to each other...
MB: How does your work address the relationship between humans and technology?
AEA: My work is about displacement, which comes from my personal experience of moving around the world for the past decade, but in a world made smaller by networks of connectivity, the experience of dislocation is a reality for most people. We are constantly locating ourselves, but we don't really know where we are. I use technology like Google Maps, FaceTime and Craigslist to show how the prevalence of those kinds of technologies affect everyday life. Free to a Good Home began as an exploration of the idea of home—I searched Craigslist for the phrase "free to a good home" and began to acquire those objects. As I was doing this, I would sometimes learn about the role those objects played in the lives of the people posting the ads. The first thing I picked up was a 1940s red tufted sofa from a nursing home. Through email exchanges I learned it had been in the woman's family for 75 years and was being given away for "free to a good home" because the woman's father was being transferred to the hospital side of the nursing home. I ended up having a very meaningful exchange with a complete stranger because of a sofa, which led me to begin posting objects of my own on Craigslist for "free to a good home." My ads included poetic descriptions of the objects being offered, and as I exchanged emails and gave away objects, I was documenting the entire process. The project as a whole shows the variety of anonymous online interactions, from the mundane to the surprisingly beautiful.
MB: Why does science and art, and their juxtaposition, appeal to you?
AEA: Science and art might at first seem to be at odds, but scientists and artists actually function in similar ways. Both have to question accepted norms and push boundaries by experimenting and asking questions other people might not think to ask. Still, the sorts of questions scientists and artists ask are very different, which is why I think science and art are so well-suited to each other—they compliment each other in such a way that together each discipline pushes the other forward.
All images courtesy of the artist.