Monday, March 5, 2012

The Sincerest Form

Hello everyone,

I've blogged before about the junkpile at my office, repairing broken electronics, and making sculptures out of unwanted hard drives. It's safe to say I'm a firm believer in "One man's trash is another man's treasure."

A while back, the office was throwing out digital picture frames. Try to remember back about five years or so - digital cameras were in everyone's hands, but people had limited options for what to do after the shots were taken. The picture frame allowed you to take your camera-card, plug it in, and transfer the photos to the internal storage of the frame. Voila, you have a slideshow device.

The market never really took off, in fact, I think recently, the Digital Picture Frame was regarded as one of the worst Christmas presents you could give someone. Clunky interfaces, coupled with the fact that nobody really wanted to go through the effort to manually-update the content on the frame meant another brilliant idea headed to the junkpile.

...where I was willing to snatch them all up.

One of the artists that Gattina and I both admire is Jenny Holzer. Her most famous work is her Truism series. They consist of one line of philosophical text in a bold font which is then projected on a massive scale.

I wanted to make a Truism Digital Picture Frame. It would cycle-through her Truisms automatically.

In total, I generated 254 of Jenny Holzer's Truisms, edited in Photoshop, and loaded them onto the frames (or in some cases, spare media cards).

If I could put my artist-hat on for a second, I really found a new appreciation for these phrases during the editing process. By changing the spacing and/or the font sizing, I had a form of control over the "rhythm" of the phrase. My mind was reading the phrase differently depending on whether it spanned two versus three or four separate lines. I could emphasize a certain word by isolating it from the others.

Also, because these are digitally projected, they convey a bit of what (I believe) is the spirit of Jenny Holzer's work. They're not as imposing as twenty-foot-tall-text, but I think in this form-factor, they're more approachable. I think we're all so geared to TV screens, that we have built a kind of trust with them, and by extension, the content issued from them. It's this trust that makes the phrases worthy of discussion. I won't even pretend to know exactly what they all mean, but am definitely eager to explore them with someone.

I hope my imitation flatters rather than insults.

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