[ISEA97] Artist Statement: Paul Hertz – POND

Artist Statement

Using a network connection, participants play a game to generate patterns that appear as geometric tiles, but which can also be interpreted as material for music. They are asked to digitize their image and record their voice speaking their name and send these files as attachments over the network. Patterns, images, and voices become part of a computer database. Depending on the available technology, the patterns, voices, and images can also be collected directly by a computer in the gallery space. Within the exhibition space, the gallery floor is covered with modular elements that recreate one of the geometric tile patterns. Earthenware bowls of water spaced over the tiles reiterate the symbols used in the networked pattern-making game. At one end of the gallery a bird’s nest sits on a table. Computer video projection onto an angled screen placed to reflect off of the floor installation plays back the patterns, images, and voices in the database. Playback of sounds and images follows rules based on the patterns, changing tempo, pitch, transparency, etc. Visitors to the gallery can trigger and control the playback by waving their hands over the bird’s nest or by leaning gently on the table. Material collected in each iteration of this installation is used for the next one, transporting names, faces, and patterns generated by one group of people into a space viewed by a distinct group. The patterns used can be changed for others that use the same parameter space, mapping their parameters onto a completely different set of imagery and musical operations. Pond attempts to span a sequence of spaces and suggest different levels of technology, ranging from the bird’s nest to the earthenware bowls to the computer network. All of these are linked through a series of visual codes—nest to bowls, bowls to game, etc.—that incorporate the “universal” human iconographies of faces and personal names. At once an aesthetic divertimento and a philosophical inquiry into the content and purpose of technology, it suggests by its title the world is shrunk to a pond, one where new communities come into being through technology and yet largely remain hid-den. As in a pond in the woods, our intrusive presence may startle the inhabitants into revealing themselves.

  • Paul Hertz (U.S.A.) Paul Hertz used to live in a volcanic cave beside the sea in the Canary Islands. Now he lives in a house with a garden in Chicago. He develops collaborative on-line multimedia projects as a member of the Collaboratory Project at Northwestern University, where he also teaches in the Department of Radio, Television and Film, and the Medill School of Journalism. He spent many years in Spain, where he exhibited his drawings, paintings and musical and theatrical compositions, notably in the XVIII International Theater Festival of Sitges, at the Universitat Nova in Barcelona and in various editions of the Joan  Miró  International Drawing Competition. Now he makes art with computers. At the School of the Art Institute of Chicago he began to work with technology as an MFA candidate and a Fellow of the Center for Advanced Studies in Art and Technology. He collaborated on the development of Antoni Muntadas’ WWW project ‘The File Room’, and recently curat­ed a WWW installation of work by seven artists on the col­onization of cyberspace entitled The Homestead:                                                                                    omnibus-eye.rtvf.nwu. paulhertz.net