Telepresence, Telecommunication, Telematic

Internet Avatar by Matthew T Rader

In Roy Ascott’s article, “Is There Love In The Telematic Embrace?” he says that current technology is making us question what it means to be human. I thought that was interesting in that at first glance that seems to be a silly statement. But when really looked into, he’s right. We are having to distinguish ourselves from machines as we integrate them more and more into our daily lives. That then transfers into art and how people’s relationship with technology will redefine art. As Ascott pointed out, traditionally art was on or a physical medium, like a canvas or sculpture. In telematics art is not just a physical object. We may see the part of it on a physical object like a wall, a screen or paper. A major part of the art is digital and flowing and interesting pulses of electricity traveling through air and wires. Therefore a piece of telematics art is a sum of many parts..

Another aspect to telematics art is that it is not done in isolation. A telematic artist does not simply go into their studio alone spend time and emerge with a piece of art. Telematics require that there be roles for people to play. They can be an author, facilitator,, participant and/or an actor. This requires that telematic art pieces involve usually groups of people. This involvement looks very different for different pieces of art. As telematic art is growing, artist are questioning and challenging the relationships people have with each other and with digital technology. They are trying to stretch the limits of how love is defined. If we love people can communicate with face-to-face, can we love people we can communicate through a digital medium, if so, how much and is it different? These are questions telematic artist wrestling through.

A great example of telematic art is the Telematic Drum Circle.

In this installation, up to 16 people at a time from all over the world can go to a website and log into it. From there they choose which one of 16 drum sets do they want to control. Once they choose they can begin to control an actual drum that is placed in another location with all the other drums. People at that instillation space can then watch the drums perform together as people around the world control. Projects like this question who is the artist. Is the artist the person controlling the drum, is it the person who made the computer program, is the orchestrator of the event? In telematic, none of those matter, what matters is the collaborate nature of the piece itself.

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