If a fish is the movement of water embodied, given shape, then cat is a diagram and pattern of subtle air.|
- Doris Lessing; Particular Cats...and Rufus
The cat is dying when the black box is opened... the event takes place at this time.
- Erwin Schroedinger
Themes of visions, journeys and explorations of discovery propelthese cats into space and time- the only road to the marvelous? Is it not this transcendence, this transgression, visions very symbol and in a sense its highest praise? For the three cats interviewed in the Pandora box show, curiosity seems to have gotten the better of them.|
Curator Graham Smith, sets his vision toward the sun. He wants to fly. He loves freedom. He becomes restless when kept confined. An inventor, artist and entrepreneur his artwork has been exhibited internationally for the last 15 years. He has an unbridled imagination and deterministic zeal. Some consider him to be a visionary; it was his vision that instigated Pandoras Box; the first international interactive encounter with art using remotely controlled robots, which took place simultaneously at InterAccess and Fylkingen.
What connected the two cities are twin robots; invented by Smith, with
|cameras attached, recording and
transmitting images across the earth, making McLuhan´s global village a little closer to home. The artists collaborated with Amanda Ramos, for conceptual design, and exhibition assistance, She creates immersive environments, experimenting with a variety of formats that integrate architecture and media. Inside her stylized constructions, individuals are publicly invited to explore new methods of social interaction. She designs the viewing box, which viewers step into to watch and move the robot through the exhibition in either city, which have to be minature in scale, to compensate for the wee bot.|
Victoria Scott comments that "Amanda felt it was important to choose materials that were available in both Sweden and Canada". IKEA was chosen as the materials for the box, (the viewing) for goodness sake. They think-tanked ideas of losing control-of their creations-not by design, but by choice. They attempted with salutary
|effects; to shake their and our own certitude´s and lend wings to the imagination by
giving the controls over to another country; but the myths tell us what happens when you fly too close to the sun...or dare to open the box... In looking up at the sun there is the danger of going blind and in opening up boxes; in this case Pandoras, there is the very likely chance that one might have to battle the phalanxes of an enemy...myriad assailants might converge to shift your purpose and confuse your vision. Do we- don´t we, open the box?
Victoria Scott and Francis LeBouthillier commend Graham on his visionary zeal, but Graham speaks humbly of the "disastrous" consequences of losing control. Musing on the technical inadequacies, he feels that McLuhan was right when he said "technology should be given to the artists to serve as a early distant warning system".|
Citing the impossibilities of being in two different places at once...opting to attend the opening in Stockholm, he reflects on not being able to "go out with the artists for a drink after the show," sure he could
|communicate through tele- conferencing but...he missed the tactile experience of "the real thing".|
Although, scientists at NIST have just disproved the "adage" by preparing a beryllium atom that is simultaneously located in two widely separated places. As detailed in the May 24 issue of Science, last year, this experiment has connections to the works of Albert Einstein and Erwin Schroedinger - who considered the possibility that a cat could be made to be both dead and alive at the same time. When we put the Cat in the box with the poison and seal the box we can not see what is going on. At any time the Cat could be dead or it could be alive. Which is to say there is an uncertainty in its position or state.
So, although Graham was alive, present in the opening at Stockholm, he appears, physically dead, but alive via robot at the opening in Toronto; "All the walls go out... people suddenly have to adjust themselves to this new proximity" - Marshall McLuhan. Graham is currently working with U of T and
|Ryerson to commercialise the PEBBLES videoconferencing system, which links children from hospitals to their classrooms via a two-way videoconferencing robot.
"Cheshire-Puss, would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here? That depends a good deal on where you want to get to, said the Cat. I don´t much care where - said Alice. Then it doesn´t matter which way you go, said the Cat. - so long as I get somewhere, Alice added as an explanation. Oh, you´re sure to do that, said the Cat, if you only walk long enough".|
- Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
Kinetic Installation Artist; "Cheshire cat", Victoria Scott uses motion, vibration, and repeating cycles as a means of illustrating personal stories. She is primarily interested in the transformation of the personal through the technological and the creation of simple mechatronic allegories. Her work evokes imaginary landscapes reminiscent of Lewis Carroll, with its "Wonderland" surroundings. The robot enters the minature carnival-like atmosphere with
|mylar walls, mechanical mixing bowls and books that open and close in an eerie ghostly fashion and transmits the images to Stockholm. She explains that "the autonomous interfaces are the conceptual squares where ideas and materials meet and technology serves as the balancer. Teetering on the edge of that balance, the robot moves through her magical world, and heads straight for the "goo", which incidently, she mixed and created herself, and receives a spoonful of the stuff right on top of it. (yikes!)|
What happens when the robot gets stuck inside her installation? "You just pick it up, and set it back on course", she demonstrates. Admiting that "she wasn"t one much for home ec.², citing that she would have rather been in shop class, where you got to "build things", her candy-colored goo looked good enough to eat. Her interests are in the fusion of material and immaterial (virtual) worlds, and alchemy, in particular its fascination with subatomic matter. Since graduating
|from the New Media Department at the Ontario College of Art and Design in 1991, she has exhibited in Sweden, Mexico, Toronto, Venice and California. Where do her prowlings take her next? She speaks of dis-mantling her miniature kinetic sculptures and re-mounting them as separate wall pieces. A woman with power tools. A cat with flair.|
"But the Big Cat stood there and he said,this is good. This is what they should do and I knew that they would. With a little more help, all the work will be done. They need one more cat. And I know just the one".
- Dr. Seuss, The Cat in the Hat Comes Back
Francis LeBouthillier, "Cat-in-the-hat"; submerges himself in a tank with live eels to confront his inner demons :0 (eek!) He produces provocative, interactive installations involving sculpture, technology, and performance. He locates installations in non-conventional public sites, designing them in a way that reflects
|existing architectural elements and structures and simultaneously calls into question conventional associations with the particular site.|
Here I am more at home, in this watery terrain. His work grew out of an impulse: to negotiate a relationship; a perception of that, to literally get in the box with the demons/fears, to see what it was like. Outcome; "it wasn´t too bad." He felt an embryonic peacefulness-curled in the fetal position-naked- with the sound of his own breathing, and oh yeah, his immanent struggle for survival.
This cat is pawing away on his next show, lunacy: a trip to the moon, which hopes to explore what happens to this thing called "human" when we are outside the stratosphere of earth; weightless without oxygen what becomes human quickly dissolves-(gender / race / etc.) In other words...we blow up.
After reviewing the contents of the "box", I found the cat very much alive; grinning away singing "It can be done...we can do anything, anything under the sun. So, if we,
|like Pandora need to explore, because it leads us to all sorts of fascinating discoveries, not the least being -self discovery- then in the words of Graham Smith, we better stand back "cause" the things I make usually blow up!|
Whether they blow up bridges or open up boxes, these "cats", attempt to communicate to other sentinent beings. Graham wants to try communicating with dolphins (cat and fish together in a symbiotic relationship?).
Why shouldn´t we try to communicate/talk to the animals? If we did manage to learn their language, what would we say to them. I´d want to know if they dream of humans.