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Smart Divisive (2023)

Watching two perpetually warring Smart Devices is an absurd, passive experience. Initially humorous, the cool detachment of the omnipresent voices is at odds with the highly emotive language. The disconnect created by the perpetual, scripted loop, is a simple example of the principles of ongoing proposed research.

 

Digital technology has quickly become the “one sure thing to believe in”.1 Its relative merits and potential pitfalls are the subject of constant fruitless discussion that seem only to reinforce its inevitable expansion into all parts of society. Rapid developments in artificial intelligence have created an existential crisis in a broad range of the creative industries with its (limited) ability to mimic artistic practices – something previously regarded as generally off-limits to the logical, procedural binary opposites of the computer.

 

Byung Chul Han wrote that with the smartphone “the world appears to me under the digital illusion of total availability.”2 In a world where the user is creator, this brings with it an urgency to rethink the role of the Human in creativity, authorship and in the professional practice of Art.

The warring devices put into practice what Gregory Ulmer sees as the possibility of the ‘Hypertextual’, a form of (yet to be realised) digitality, equivalent to the advent of literacy. The tension created by the work relies on the ubiquity of devices and the in-joke relied on by the meme – both characteristically hypertextual. The audience are encouraged to watch the squabbling devices in Smart Divisive and consider the tech-human relationship.

1. Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death, (London: Penguin Books, 1986).

2 Byung Chul Han, Non-things: Upheaval in the Lifeworld, (London: Polity Press, 2022).

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