[ISEA2002] Artist Statement: Kalim Chan – Self Adjust

Artist Statement

Self Adjust is an interactive installation that explores the concept of the ever-changing identity of the self made possible by technological innovations. The machines born of new technologies at first facilitate the tasks for which they were intended, then gradually evolve to generate variations of our very own identities as these machines become reconfigured and improved to suit our needs over time. As a raw technology first emerges, it is endowed with basic functionalities that accomplish specific goals. When the parameters are altered to recontextualize the existence of the system, the user of the technology is placed at the threshold of a different identity. These systems recombine, making improvements in their performances to adapt to new tasks. The issue of our identities is further multiplied and complicated. These technological mechanisms eventually reach new states of automation and become labeled as “self-adjusting”. At the same time we begin to ponder whether it is truly our own selves that are being adjusted.

To convey this concept to the audience, Self Adjust is designed as an interactive environment where the participant is immersed in a catalog of abstract machine parts. These parts constitute the assemblages encased in a series of pedestals. The display of the physical objects within the installation space allows the participant to first become acquainted with these mechanisms. He or she is invited to metaphorically “scan” his or her identity into the digital space by pressing on surface of each case. This action releases an iconic twin of the physical object on the projection screen. The icon then drifts freely, awaiting to be combined with another machine icon which can be activated by the same or another participant. When they combine, the participant is “adjusted’ to a new self as depicted by a series of photographic images. These images contain different scenes of movement improvisation by two performers as they interpret the conjunction of the iconic objects. When more of these images begin to appear, they collectively form a new identity of the participants through a collage-like manifestation of a cyborg. As more people begin to participate in the installation a new community of selves is formed.

  • Kalim Chan is a designer and new media artist from New York City, USA. He is a graduate of the Masters Program in Design/Media Arts at the University of California, Los Angeles. His work focuses on the fragmented and evolving identities of the self through different explorations in interactive installations and digital graphics. He has previously worked in the fields of advertising design and digital imaging in New York, and has also spent time in Hong Kong as a creative director of corporate identity and online media. His works have been featured in the L.A. Weekly as well as in Side Street Projects in Lor Angeles. Kalim majored in mechanical engineering during his undergraduate years at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.