Monday, 9 May 2011

The Consciousness Engine

I had no idea this exhibition was on! I stumbled across it totally by accident and I felt so happy that I did, because this work relates in some ways to my own project. The artists Shardcore and Sam Hewitt explore notions of the collective and individual via scientific and spiritual inquiries in the search for truth.

The Consciousness Engine is a series of visual and digital art installations at The Old Market. Rooms distributed around the venue contain pieces of video and audio staged to suggest evidence of a consciousness making discoveries about its own nature. Not like a child learning for the first time but as an adult looking at their habits of self identification.
As an audience member you may explore the building in your own way and interact as you wish with phones and cameras incorporated into the installations. These allow you to contribute audio and video to the Engine and they allow It to gain information about humanity. The core of the Engine can be viewed at any time as a constantly evolving, self-editing film in the basement of the venue. As the festival progresses, video of the most memorable visitors will be incorporated into Its regular thought patterns.

My favourite part of this exhibition was a video installation in a white ceramic tiled room at the basement of the building (core of the engine). The tiles worked really well due to both the reflections of the projection on the other tiles in the room; also viewing the video projection on the tiles gave a more geometric graph like effect which also was very apt when you knew that it was a computer speaking in the video. The computer made random sometimes contradictory statements, for instance at one point it was talking about religion and then afterwards it said something on the lines of - If you are trying to put this into some sort of religious or spiritual connotation then you are missing the point! There was also one sentence that really stuck in my head - Can freedom be organised? This question ran circles in my mind because if you can organise freedom then you haven't got it, but then if freedom is not organised how do we achieve it? Could freedom only be achieved by random happenings? How do we define freedom? Can freedom even be defined within a collective because everyone's idea of freedom would be different. So can freedom only truly exist in isolation? Hmmm I still don't know about this either as this then led me thinking about existentialism being a prison for the mind! Also if we were isolated it would have to be by choice so then this would have been organised but I can't see many people opting for isolation either. I haven't really come to a conclusion. I think that freedom is very hard to achieve in society, but it can possible be organised for individual personal choice, if isolation is of your own choosing. This is by far means incomplete and I know that I will be thinking about this for sometime.

Most of the scenes in the video were of places in Brighton that I recognised. Personally I think this worked well for me because I live in Brighton, and some of these scenes triggered my own memories in a way that I felt like they were mine. I found this video to be quite remarkable, not only was it extremely thought provoking, the video was also made using generative software so it never repeated.

I really enjoyed this exhibition it also felt quite apt that I found it by chance too :-)

For link to The Consciousness Engine by artist's Shardcore and Sam Hewitt click here.

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