Universität KonstanzExzellenzcluster: Kulturelle Grundlagen von Integration

Human-Machine Interaction as a Neutral Base for a New Artistic and Creative Practice

Liat Grayver

Abstract

During the past two years, my work has been focused on investigating methods to redefine one of the primitive forms of art— painting— into our current technology-based era. In collaboration with computer engineers, neuroscientists and machine engineers, I am exploring new methods for the application of paint on canvas, as well as for computer-assisted generation of physical images, and have been using computers and machines in the service of exploring new æsthetic avenues in painting. My work in this area aspires to constitute a novel venue for the establishment of new and innovative ground in contemporary artistic practices.

Making art for me is the attempt to manifest one’s own intimate biography through materials into the public and social discourse. This is not only about the form or the finished object, but also about the process, the perspective and perception of a structure— all of which is defined by our dynamic surroundings and contemplated through the tools, mediums and technology of the present time and local place.
Exploration and playfulness through art-related mediums in general, and painting in particular, have been part of my life and identity since early childhood. However, the fact that I grew up in a peripheral region of Israel in a Jewish Iraqi immigrant family set me at a distance from the urban art establishment; conversely, my aspirations to assimilate into that milieu contributed to the formation of a certain distance between myself and my own family’s cultural heritage. My reflections on this situation are not, however, intended as an attempt to reconnect with, recover or reanimate a “lost culture” but rather as a means to investigate and question the hybrid, multifarious culture I am now operating in— the way I understand, process and practise the creation and generation of visual imagery, most notably through painting. When making a value judgment on the use of a medium, e.g., oil painting, print-making or drawing, I previously positioned myself in direct relation to “the” predecessors, who were by and large figures from the historical European art establishment. In my formative years, one of the most difficult tasks for me as a young female artist was to break free from the need to work in such recognizable and established forms in order to define neutral ground upon which I could operate and define myself as an individual artist.

Our present era can be distinguished from other historical periods by the sheer amount of data to which we have access — the availability of and rapidity with which information can travel and be translated across disciplines and between places. Physical spaces like museums and the concept of white cube galleries are today’s standard spaces for presenting art and artifacts. Over the past decade, these increasingly standardized spaces have reinforced the tendency for artworks to be produced for no specific space, and to be meant for consumption by an unspecific audience — the work should be able to be displayed everywhere and be seen by everyone around the world. Furthermore, digital media in general and the Internet in particular are the most immediate and common ways to consume visual information. This has an enormous impact on the way we as individuals are able to perceive and appreciate, for example, imagery or artefacts. Within more traditional settings this can very often result in a decontextualized experience for the individual in the post-digital and post-Internet epoch.

This fragmentary, decontextualized experience is the space I investigate in my artistic process, through the use of data, whether it be a symbol, a reduced geometrical form or a code, derived from diverse and familiar or foreign sources.

Today there exists an ever-growing international community in artistic, academic and urban centres such as Berlin and Tel Aviv that is devoted to creating, modelling, reflecting upon and subsequently being remodeled by new constellations of culture. This corresponds to the dynamic transformation of our society through technology and media, not to mention the increasingly frequent movement of people and the mixture of cultures brought about by various forms of migration, both voluntary and forced. It is this contemporary mixed, fragmented and often contrasting society that I have long seen as my “home base”, in part due to its familiarity, as I grew up in a country that was, at the time, predominantly inhabited by first- and second-generation immigrants — a country located in the Middle East whose inhabitants were educated largely on foreign and imported European cultural values. The rich potential of such cultural convergence offers infinite inspiration for me to investigate new channels of perception, creation and communication of visual imagery through collective as well as individual expression and experiences, using the physical mediums of print-making, drawing, painting and robotic painting.

During the past two years, my work has been focused on investigating methods to redefine one of the primitive forms of art — painting — into our current technology-based era. In collaboration with computer engineers, neuroscientists and machine engineers, I am exploring new methods for the application of paint on canvas, as well as for computer-assisted generation of physical images, and have been using computers and machines in the service of exploring new æsthetic avenues in painting. My work in this area aspires to constitute a novel venue for the establishment of new and innovative ground in contemporary artistic practices.

Working in a new artistic field, namely robotic painting, gave me the privilege to operate in a space that was refreshingly devoid of preconceived rule systems of “right” or “wrong” in terms of æsthetic values, methods of work or structural thoughts. Redefining boundaries and norms to create new forms and perspectives on artistic practices is, in my opinion, one of the main tasks with which artists are obliged to engage in the creation of contemporary and post-digital art.