The Cyclops Series


The Cyclops Series of artworks asks simply "What does a virtual monument look like?" The answer is a parody of solidity: a bendable building, a monument that bounces, a skyscraper that flies. The object straddles the line between a thing and an event: an organic form that is itself a record of a fleeting moment of destruction and creation.

Through monuments humans preserve their ideas, extend themselves through time, extend their presence over generations. Monuments create the illusion of permanence. Recent growth of computer and network technologies extend the human nervous system and alter our experience of physical space, distance, and memory. Information can be transmitted globally, instantly. Databases store media experiences, and networks distribute and replicate this information with minimal effort. Yet there is a blindness in the rush to exploit the new technology: we bring the comfortable assumptions of the physical into the virtual without noticing that they don't apply.

In my net artwork, Shredder, Riot and net.flag, I took the property, territorial rules and national symbols of the physical world and collided them with the software protocols of the virtual world. From the ensuing reaction we get a glimpse into the workings of both spaces. The contrast of the "hard" physical world with the "soft" virtual world reveals the shift that digital technology is inducing in the human senses. We have given up solidity, and gained fluidity, and with that comes the excitement and anxiety of the early aviator that has finally gotten the airplane off the ground, only to realize that he doesn't know how to fly.

This 'virtual world' made of code and data challenges the notion of physical monument as a means to permanence. The relationship of the human body to monument is shifted by the virtual world, and with it, the notion of permanence, memory, and our relationship to physical objects in general. The age of objects has ended. We enter an age in which experiences can be transmitted over wires, objects can be transmitted as information, "printed", and recycled, much as water flows through the weather cycle. Permanence is no longer associated with physical objects, but with the persistence of ideas in the collective consciousness of the networked media. Permanence becomes organic: a function of a systems ability to regenerate itself. In this respect, rock, steel and cement are the losers.