Artist Statement -
Curiosity Cabinet at the End of the Millenium 1995 - artist statement
In the cyberspace of contemporary new technologies the theme of
self-determination is being replayed in the image of the autonomous cyborg.
Much of this attempt to reconstruct
self determination in new media environments focuses on the meeting of body
and machine: a cyborg state of half metal and half flesh. In the main stream
technological, scientific and pop narratives the cyborg simply appropriates
more machine power for the autonomous self.
In contrast I see these electronic
computer environments as irrevocably blurring the boundaries between body
and machine and multiples of bodies and machines, thereby profoundly shifting
any notion of the autonomous self. There are immense implications for our
material bodies and our virtual, physic selves in these ambiguous environments.
Not only do these states undermine our construction of autonomy but we have
not developed any other notion of subjectivity to take its place.
Other works of mine explored this
permeable boundary in new technological environments. These pieces used interactive
computer technologies to hold up this slippage of the self as we have known it.
This work deals with the same issues
from a different perspective. It holds up the autonomous complete self as
a kind of endangered species, a rare collectable on display for a moment.
It is time when such a self is in fact under siege from our own media environments.
Demonstrations of the autonomous
individual can be seem in the early collections of curiosities by Europeans
as they explored the world and literally collected symbolic fragments as an
illustration of their power. These were often displayed in cabinets, early
premonitions of museums, owned by the wealthy and powerful: such as the King
of Sweden's intriguing cabinet which is now in Uppsala. Thus, in a sense,
the conception of the self, as autonomously determined, appeared to readily
function in the world. Such a self would put the world in a box, at least,
symbolically, to be enjoyed at one's pleasure.
In the context of our media environment or world, this piece is about how
this condition can now only exist - inside out, as it were. In the media world
we are constantly bathed in human generated electrical magnetic spectrum.
We are permeable to this invisible spectrum as well as its technological displays.
In what way can we be separate and autonomous from the media world? Rather
than the world in the cabinet it will be ourselves inside the cabinet.
This is what Curiosity Cabinet
does. The spectator/participant climbs
inside the cabinet. The cabinet is now a 'safe' house, an impermeable skin from
the electronic and magnetic sea.