"From ether to matter, this work examines both the corporal and non-corporal relationship we have with our digital and tangible environments. Here, artificial systems assist natural systems to propagate as a reflection of our own intimate consciousness with technology. Relational Sustainability is an interactive installation in which gallery visitors are encouraged to assume a role within the immediate ecosystem by sending a tweet, as each tweet feeds the plants in the project space. From digital clouds to real clouds, the connection is created between data and water molecules.
Water drops are released from a cloud structure in the gallery space every time a participant sends a tweet. Twitter messages with #releasetherain (along with a personal message) can be sent by anyone with access to Twitter from anywhere in the world. This makes participation possible from inside or outside the project space. As ‘rain’ droplets fall directly onto the plants below the cloud structure, this gives participants the power to determine the fate of the plants via the digital cloud of Twitter..."
Brenda Perry's work Relational Sustainability appears in SciArt Center's most recent exhibition, "The Void and the Cloud." The exhibit's curator, Marnie Benney, spoke with Perry on her artwork and process:
MB: In a way, we started from nothing and will potentially return to nothing, or a void. How does your work explore the concept of the void in regards to human existence?
BP: I compare this notion to the idea of "God" or the Life Force, or whatever one wants to call it. Just as humans have looked to the clouds in the sky and referred to the heavens as "God," so is the idea of the digital Cloud as "God" being everywhere..."God" resides in the ethereal clouds/nothingness...Internet resides in the Cloud...Internet is everywhere but not tangible...exists in nothingness. In a way, one can dare say that the Internet is mimicking the "God" or Life Force in existing in nothing/void and everything.
MB: Do you think humans can exist in the dual state of being and non-being? How does your artwork for this show support or challenge this duality?
BP: The dual state of being and non-being is a powerful one. As we see how our smartphones and electronic devices are extensions of ourselves and our digital lives are as important, if not more, than real life, this gives humanity a sense of immortality where the non-corporal remains even after the corporal is no longer, via the digital footprint. My artwork for the show supports this duality in the sense that humans can transpose themselves from digital form, via Twitter, to physical form by palpably affecting the project space from anywhere around the world.
MB: What aspects of tangible physical form and virtual form do you use in your research or creative practice to explore the thread that connects them?
BP: My research is about trying to make the invisible visible...the digital tangible. As we see more of how the virtual has the ability to create physical manifestations from something ethereal, I am interested in harnessing that ability for the greater good. In this project, I aid a small localized hydrological cycle via artificial systems.
MB: What happens to the physical world, the physical self, in a digital-dominated era?
BP: I believe we have a cyborganic trajectory, where man and machine will eventually become one. Since nature (humans) gave birth to the artificial, thus will the artificial give birth to nature, as the next natural step in human evolution.