Networked_Performance

real-time autobahn

autodrawn.jpg

the freeways of art practice

Pall Thayer’s latest work Autodrawn, subtitled: Sketching landscapes seen through my window, is a real-time software application that renders or “sketches” an image grabbed from online freeway webcams. In reference to the Krawftwerk song Autobahn, Pall presents a contemplative, aesthetically based experience of the increasingly complex associations with freeway culture.

The experience is meditative in its abstraction and repetition: the image is never completed before it is wiped and redrawn. The experience is made richer with the accompaniment of the sound assemblage made of electronica and what seems to be police and traffic control audio pulled from scanners.

There are no bodies or human interaction in this work, but the proposition that the computer is performing as an intermediary of a live moment. Autodrawn personifies the computer through a first person perspective. The pronoun in the subtitle is the computer’s. Pall presents the computer as playing artist by co-opting the artists creative exercise of sketching, real-time drawing as consciousness, and the appropriation of public web cam images as framing the computer’s subjectivity: my windows: my eyes.

Pall describes the work: “The rapid pencil sketch is one of the staples of traditional visual arts. It can be anything from simple art-calisthenics and studies to a full blown work of art. Here we see the computer “playing” artist, making rapid sketches (traces) of landscapes (real-time images from traffic cameras) seen through its windows (browser windows). The subject matter is something that many of us take for granted, seldom stopping to consider the aesthetic charm of the increasingly complex structures that Kraftwerk sang so memorably about in their song “Autobahn”. But they portrayed the freeway as a blissfull place for a leisurely, automotive, family outing. Can this place of increasingly severe accidents, con-artists, high-speed police chases and practice-range for morally deprived gun owners still be seen in the serene imagery conjured up by Kraftwerks song?

Now, instead of being presented with the profoundly “pretty” cover-art by Emil Schult, we are presented with “the real thing” in real-time, drawn by a machine that takes a completely abstract approach to the subject matter. The accompanying music, instead of an underlying melody tricked out with spacy synthesizer effects, flutes and guitars, is garnered with live streams of police scanners, those pillars of public safety that now scour the majestic cement structures that are at the same time a constant threat to human life and an essential element in modern city living.”

Pall also makes the source code available to others.


May 30, 15:06

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