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Interlude (Excerpt), 2019
2 Channel Networked HD Video . 9 Minutes 23 Seconds
Boiling a Ship in the Sea (Excerpt), 2017
HD Video . 4 Minutes + Audio Mixtape . 40 minutes
Almost Baroque (Installation Stills), 2020
6 Channel Networked 4K+ Video, 60fps . 9 Minute 45 Second Loop
Beverly Park 12:01AM 1566870 Polygons, 2019
Computer-Generated Models and Rendering, Archival Pigment Print on Mirror . 48 X 48 inches
Free Food (Excerpt), 2018
Stacked 2 Channel HD Video . 4 minutes 40 seconds
Love Buzz (3UP Installation View), 2019
Computer-Generated Models, H.265 60fps, HD Displays, Media Players . 3 minute 30 second loop
Celebration (Excerpt), 2018
HD Video . 5 minutes
Vatican City 8:30AM 554781 Polygons, 2017
Computer-Generated Models and Rendering, Archival Pigment Print on Dibond . 18 X 24 inches
The Savanah Dance (Excerpt), 2016
HD Video. 5 minutes 25 seconds
Nightclubbing (DEMO), 2017
Real-time 3D, Virtual Reality, Custom Built Bed, Pajamas
HD Video. 5 minute 8seconds
Post Communique, HOMECOMING! Committee
Installation View, Dallas Museum of Art . 2013
Moon Ribbon, 2015
Collaboration w/ Audio X Pierre Krause + Gregory Ruppe
Presented on the Exterior of the Omni Hotel and KXT 91.7 HD Video
Three's a Crowd, 2015
Oil on Canvas . 27.5 X 21.5 inches
Lost Pines (Installation, excerpt), 2016
2 Identical Radios from Mexico and U.S., Radio Transmitter, Music Playlist
Comprising two identical boom boxes, one found in Mexico City the other in Texas, Lost Pines writes a narrative between two friends separated by borders, distance and language through an exchange of songs each responding in sequence to their geographical, historical and cultural identities. This musical narrative is transmitted across a shared radio spectrum as a call and repeat between the two stereos.
Missed Calls (Installation View), 2013
Dot Matrix Printer, Cell Phones, Custom Software . Dimensions Variable
In Response to Missed Calls Dr. Dennis L. Sepper
Professor, Dept. of Philosophy
Professor and Chair, Dept. of Human Sciences in the Contemporary World
University of Dallas
There was not much to see at first as I walked into the exhibit
Missed Calls (January 12 to February 2 at the Reading Room, located across the road from the main gate to Fair Park). The space was starkly white, trimmed in black; on the wall opposite the entrance were three cell phones, arrayed in a line a bit more than five feet above the floor; on the right were three framed computer printouts, each displaying ; in the center of the space was an Epson dot-matrix printer on a pedestal, with fanfold paper spilling over onto the floor. Tech, but certainly not high-tech.
As it turned out, this was only the hub of the exhibit. The
spokes were the electromagnetic signals that communicated with the three cell phones, and they extended out to different locations in the Dallas area where the three phone numbers were posted. My wife in fact noticed one of the postings the previous weekend in the parking lot of Half Price Books on Northwest Highway near Central a bumper sticker attached to a light pole, with the legend
Public Confessional along with one of the phone numbers, in black lettering. A person calling the number would ring one of the three cell phones in the gallery and hear an invitation to leave a message. The message was then transcribed to text by Google Voice and printed out by the Epson in the gallery. The messages will be compiled and bound into a book as an archive of the experiment.
Experiment is exactly the right word, but in what? Kris Pierce, who created the exhibit, remarks that it is part of an investigation of technology and information and its influence on human behavior and quotidian activities. I teach in a program in the human sciences at an area university, and it occurred to me that if a student had proposed this it would have needed approval from the university's Institutional Review Board, to assure that no human beings or their privacy were harmed in the making of the exhibit. That says more about federal regulations than about the work, and since I assume that Mr. Pierce did not have NSF or NIH funding there isn't a problem!
That may sound like my purely individual response, but I think it actually calls attention to the intended framing of the exhibit: the intersection of various human and technical planes of meaning, making, and play. The activity at the hub is the phone's ringing and flashing, a wait, and then the stirring and rattle of the Epson as the printed text emerges and the wide ribbon of paper descends to the ground. Reading the text (on the last day of the exhibit) wasn't easy. The current output, to which I added two calls, was only partially legible because of printer ribbon fatigue, and I had to kneel to look at older and more readable messages: a mix ranging from the nearly sublimely poetic, through the mundane, to the confusing and even the unintelligible. Some people left recipes read from cookbooks; others performed a short act of existential drama or recited lines of poetry; and there were remarks for which I'm sure you just had to be there. Google Voice handled recipes well enough that you might have a chance at whipping up something edible, though
olive oil came out variously as
Ali bro and
all is well, and mesclun greens became
mess coming greens. With the dramatic moments, uttered passionately into the phone (I had a chance to hear some of the voice messages), you wouldn't want to entrust your life's affairs to transcription. The message that Google Voice rendered
Your mother told me you were no put some of the going to let me time and I in July and I just don't know what I'm gonna do you know how much your honor. Hmm I heard as
your mother told me you were a no good son of a gun. You left me pregnant, high and dry, and I just don't know what I'm going to do. You're a rat, YOU'RE A RAT! Not much honor there.
I'm so lonely. Please leave me a message was turned into
I'm sorry I'm running late, please leave me a message. Bye. There was something even more evocative in the printed
the fear of every day, the middle of a clear, my mind can comprehend, than in the spoken
the fear of every day, from the devil that put me here, my mind can't comprehend.
Karen Weiner, who runs the gallery, suggested that there might be some connection to computational linguistics. This strikes me as exactly right, though less as an application or reflection of computational linguistics, or even a critique, than as evidence of what it produces
in the wild. Computational linguistics, to put it as simply as possible, tries to understand the production of human language as a form of computation and then develops algorithms and routines to generate speech or writing in response to input (which can, of course, mean the input of a human being
conversing with a device). Apple's Siri is just one example, and probably everyone has read stories of her comic, absurd, and witty reactions. She is imperfect but improving, since she has ever more sophisticated power of Apple's servers on her side (Siri thus does not work when the phone is not connected by 3- or 4-G or wi-fi). But those anecdotes conceal as much as they reveal, because they are confined to what the speaker wanted and said and what Siri replied. When all is said and done, Apple and the iPhone user want accuracy and efficiency: technical on the one hand, practical on the other. Using an app is a nicely limited task, with clear criteria of success and failure.
Missed Calls has wider scope. It makes us think of who is at the other end of the call and their situation. It makes us wonder about what difference it would make if the bumper sticker suggested not a public confession but (say) participation in an experiment or an invitation to a good time. We expect communications to be ever more instantaneous, but the exhibit actually produces a series of delays, neatly separating for us the various phases of technical transmission and processing. If Google Voice is nearly flawless in producing voice messages from emails, it is obviously still woefully lacking in the other direction. Yet the
errors and glitches in transmission and transcription, when printed, compel us to make sense of the constantly evocative power of ordinary human language. We even struggle to decipher from the faded dot-matrix letter images something that satisfies our desire for meaning and euphony.
Whether the archived messages amount to a work of art may be doubtful. I think of it as more like
work product that, say, artists make as they paint: sketches, daubs of paint adjoined or overlaid to note harmonies and disharmonies of color, photos of the different stages of the composition, and the like. The exhibit itself, taken as a whole, is the thing. The ordinary technology a decade or so out-of-date that is visible stands for the even more ordinary and low-tech human being; the hidden high-technology in the background, the cell transmissions and the cloud computing, show themselves in a decidedly more mundane, fragmentary, and even fragile output. A software developer might look at it all and see an opportunity for improving speed, accuracy, and polish. An artist is more likely to let the process show itself, to make evident the seams where technicians try to seamlessly join machine to machine and technique to technique, with human beings left to fend for themselves.
Missed Calls helps us see the seams and how we are fending.
The Red Telephone (Installation View), 2012
Payphones, custom software, website . Dimensions variable
On The Red Telephone
Terri Thornton // Curator, where is the power
Fort Worth Contemporary Arts, 2012
red telephone is the famous hotline that linked the White House via the National Military Command Center with the Kremlin during the Cold War. As a description it might also bring to mind the historical and beloved British phone box. And finally, The Red Telephone is the title of the
summer of love, 1967 pop song by the rock band Love. None of which is lost on artist Kris Pierce, and related or unrelated, it all offers an interesting lens through which to consider his 2012 piece by the same title.
For where is the power, Pierce connects people alienated from one another due to geographical segregation within Fort Worth by placing three red (non)pay phones in key locations throughout the city in his piece titled The Red Telephone. Modified with a wireless transmitter, the phones become public confessionals that, streamed to a web-based station, disclose dialogue, bridging distance and difference while giving power to voice. The Red Telephone, 2012 is a performative work offering individuals the opportunity to confront insecurities, speak their mind and connect to strangers who listen to their recordings as well as those who participate from disparate locations. Participation with The Red Telephone is abstract and the connections hypothetical but the live and archived recordings are revelatory as they reflect the various communities while highlighting differences and some similarities.
The children's voices on Pierce's red telephone at Unity Park Mission on August 29 are playful and combative as some children identify themselves, some play pretend and others argue and swear while participants at the location outside Fort Worth Contemporary Arts on the night of the exhibition opening are cautious, self conscious, playful, performative and confessional.
They Don't Think it be Like it is, But it Do., 2014
++++ FUTURE ++++
Granite Countertops and Stainless Steel Appliances, 2013
HD Video . 3min 36seconds
All copyright Kris Pierce 2010-2020.