[ISEA2016] Artist Talk: Ian Hatcher — Drone Pilot v0.4

Artist Statement

Drone Pilot is a live artwork which explores the conceptual subjective space of an individual connecting to a network. This network in turn connects to larger networks, which in turn connect to the violent apparatus of the state, to ideological systems the state requires and perpetuates, and to language itself. The work explores notions of the responsibility of the individual over the actions of vastly larger systems of power in which an individual plays a very small part.

Project description
Drone Pilot takes the form of a set of solo vocal performances in front of a projection screen. My work occupies an interstice between poetry and sound poetry: the text is semantic, composed to be meaningful, but its live rendition incorporates aesthetics of digitization, taking cues from code, digital systems, and cadences of computer-generated speech. This vocabulary of pseudodigital vocal aesthetics, which I have been developing for 5-6 years, can provoke effects of uncanniness on audiences, as the timbres and rhythms produced by my voice are apprehended as artificial, inhuman, yet they are clearly created by a live ‘analog’ body. My performances are intended to raise questions of the degrees to which digital technologies are internalized and become integral to the body and mind persistently, even when digital systems are seemingly disconnected or absent. The text of Drone Pilot contains remixed material from US military documents, by way of WikiLeaks. I perform part of this text as an extremely fast torrent of words that dissolve gradually into noise. By doing so I aim to convey a visceral feeling of an overwhelming flow of data, too much and too fast for a single individual to contain, retain, or understand. This in turn to suggest that attempts to grapple with kind of data ‘flood’ are related to a posthuman expansion of identity into multiplicity, as the individual becomes increasingly a cloud of other(s) and a component of containing systems. More simply, it also nods ruefully to the difficulty of dealing large quantities of information on a human scale, as sheer complexity make parsing a slow and laborious process.

Drone Pilot is an evolving project, an arc of material, that began in late 2014. It was performed in prior instantiations a half-dozen times in 2015, including at the New York venues Artists Space and Judson Memorial Church. The version of the work I propose to present at ISEA will be different and updated — it will include new material, and will be customized for context of the conference and space.

Video: Excerpt from Drone Pilot v0.2 at Judson Church, NY
Audio documentation:
Excerpt from The All-New (from Prosthesis) Ping (from Prosthesis)
No digital effects were applied to the recordings aside from normalization and basic EQ.

  • Ian Hatcher is a text/sound/code artist whose work explores human cognition in context of digital systems. He is the author of an audio/print book, Prosthesis (Poor Claudia 2016), a chapbook, The All-New (Anomalous 2015), and numerous screen- based animated / interactive texts. He has released two poetry apps, most recently Abra, with Amaranth Borsuk and Kate Durbin, which was published in parallel with an artists book featuring laser cuts, thermochromic ink, and a slot for a conjoining iPad (Center for Book and Paper Arts 2015). His codeinflected vocal performances have been presented throughout the United States and in Europe, including at The Kitchen in NY, the Bibliothèque nationale de France, and recently at the International Festival of Text-Sound Poetry in NY, co-presented by ISSUE Project Room, the Goethe-Institut, Ultima Oslo Contemporary Music Festival, and Wendy’s Subway. He holds an MFA in Literary Arts from Brown University and a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and lives in New York, USA. ianhatcher.net