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2004 World Technology Awards Winners & Finalists

Perry Hoberman

Please describe the work that you are doing that you consider to be the most innovative and of the greatest likely long-term significance.

ACCEPT was a recent exhibition at Postmasters Gallery. In this exhibition, working in a mix of new and old media, I tried to tackle one of our current dilemmas: in a world of ever-increasingly "powerful" media technologies, our own power to creatively make use these technologies is under constant threat on a variety of fronts. Restrictions and surveillance are being hard-coded into the hardware, software and networks we use daily in a process that seems determined to make us little more than fodder for an ever-more-profitable army of passive and fearful consumers. Several works in the show satirized the endless attempts to price and profit from what has become known as "intellectual property" - a term that emphasizes ownership above all. For instance, one work, Your Time Is Valuable, begins to evaluate itself as soon as it snares a viewer, comparing its own effectiveness to other mediums (such as cinema), based on how much time is necessary for each experience. Art Under Contract requires the viewer to accept a stringent End User License Agreement (the document that appears whenever we install software) before s/he can look at the work.

Another recent work, Systems Maintenance, consists of three versions of a furnished room. An ensemble of life-sized furniture occupies a large circular platform on the floor, a virtual room is displayed on a computer monitor, and a 1/8 size physical scale model of the room is presented on a small pedestal. Each version is imaged by a camera (either video or virtual), and the three resulting images are combined into a single large-scale video projection. The camera position, height, angle and field of view are matched between the three cameras. By moving the furniture and camera viewpoints for each of the three rooms, visitors can match or mismatch the components of each of the rooms as they appear in the projected image. The three video signals are fed to a pair of video mixers which are used to perform an additive mix of the three signals, and this combined signal is sent to the video projector On the screen it's nearly impossible to distinguish the images of each version's furniture from those of the other models. Until something is picked up, or pushed, or clicked, it is nearly impossible to tell whether it's in the same "world" as you are. The participants are simultaneously inside the room, looking down on it like a chessboard, and interfaced with it. The video projection becomes, in effect, a "fourth room" where hands, bodies and gadgets mingle in the same hybrid space - a confused space that allows us to enter a virtual world - and, more significantly, allows that same virtual world to invade our own. Systems Maintenance is an attempt to come to terms with, and even revel in, the essential nature of interactivity. Rather than locate structures of meaning in ideas of narrative, they are embodied in concepts of behavior - the behavior of the participants and the system itself. The goal is to line up the furniture, but achieving this goal is hardly the point of the piece, which functions equally well whether it is moving toward a state of order or disorder at any given moment. The ultimate aim of Systems Maintenance is to analyze, comment upon, and open up notions of immersion, virtuality and interactivity itself.

Brief Biography

Perry Hoberman is an award-winning media and installation artist whose work has been exhibited widely throughout the United States and Europe. He works with a variety of technologies, ranging from the utterly obsolete to the seasonably state-of-the-art. His installation "Timetable" was awarded the Grand Prix at the ICC Biennale '99 in Tokyo, and "Systems Maintenance" won a 1999 Prix Ars Electronica Award of Distinction."Unexpected Obstacles", a retrospective survey of his work, was exhibited during summer 1998 at the ZKM Mediamuseum in Karlsruhe, Germany, and before that at Gallery Otso in Espoo, Finland. In 2002 he was both a Guggenheim Foundation Fellow and a Rockefeller Media Arts Fellow. Hoberman is represented by Postmasters Gallery in New York, where he has had many one-person exhibitions. He has taught at the Cooper Union School of Art, the San Francisco Art Institute and the School of Visual Arts. Currently, Hoberman is a Visiting Professor in the Interactive Media Division at the University of Southern California School of Cinema-Television, as well as a visiting artist at the California Institute of the Arts. His work is included in the exhibition "Open House: Working In Brooklyn", currently on view at the Brooklyn Museum.