12 August 2007

Metal Fever

I forget who I was talking with recently, but the concept of combined AI, RealDolls, and robotics came up. I was trying desperately to recall the name of Hajime Sorayama, but couldn't get my memory to comply with the request. The conversation was about influences and obsessions, and I was trying to fit together the story of Sorayama's artworks, William Gibson's writing, and the effect of spending hours upon hours hip-deep in technical manuals and computer hardware.

My father worked as a technician in the R & D labs at Xerox. Before that, he was a repairman for electro-mechanical calculators, and still prior, I heard, worked for G.E. in some capacity (prior to joining the Navy to work on flight simulators). Hence, the environment I found myself in from birth was full of electronics. One of my earliest memories is sitting on the floor behind the record player we had. There was a brass grill to allow ventilation of the vacuum tubes. The holes in the grill had a magnifying effect, so looking in there was an immersive experience for me. The tubes stood like office towers in a twenty-second century metropolis. The dry, hot air that convection forced out of the cabinet smelled of phenolic and solder, mixed with the resins of the wood the cabinet was made of. And the Ventures provided the soundtrack to that still, yet compelling tableau.

When I was older, I amused myself with the seemingly endless boxes of spare parts that came into the house when projects ended. Assorted indicator lamps, control servos, switches, and random circuit boards filled half of the house. So, I went through the various changes from childhood to adolescence to adulthood buried in technological debris, emerging at almost the same moment that Mr. Gibson coined the term "cyberspace", Max Headroom first stuttered to life, and Laurie Anderson released "Big Science".

I was thinking, just before sitting down to write this, about Sorayama's paintings, and what makes or made them so compelling. In the present, when Poser gives just about anyone the ability to create realistic pictures of chrome-plated nudes, would such an artist ever be noticed?

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