Materials, when used for the purposes of artistic creation, tend to evoke endless possibilities beyond the ordinary. They are entities with their own internal energy. Thus, for instance, we can take our cue from elements found in computers, such as system boards, to generate ideas for their transformation and turn them into three-dimensional drawings. I have conceived Data Hall, a mural specifically designed for the offices of the Center for Computational Science at the University of Miami, to that effect: tangible color lines, threaded in multiple directions on the flat expanse of the boards, turn the circuits of information into a visually graspable map.
The mural consists of a set of motherboards, which originally formed a part of UM’s first supercomputer, named Pegasus. The boards were altered with plastic lacings that criss-cross and converge into nodes in a scale-free network. These drawings not only communicate my interest on new ways of making art by combining aesthetically compatible materials and thereby producing paradoxical images; they also aid me in my attempts to comprehend the concept of data processing in a tactile and visual manner.
It is thanks to the mind’s disposition to create metaphors from technological objects that I can build this proposal. Out of the plastic lines I weave a fabric over these enigmatic green surfaces, which display a similarity with urban developments and miniature cities, and which are now part of a cryptic writing that enjoys a grammar of its own. These drawings are held in a level of pure abstraction within abstraction.
The servers, cables, towers, chips, lights, memory cards, processors, connectors and integrated circuits remind us of fictional universes—strange, undecipherable landscapes where language is reduced to sequences of zeroes and ones. The circuit boards which I modify to compose the mural, the fiberglass plates and metals that no longer transmit electrical signals, once served to carry and process trillions of data per second on investigations of the human genome, cancer, engineering, music, art, law, the atmosphere, the oceans, and climate.
Within the family of experimental installations that I have been developing for over two decades, this piece furthers a line of thought that has transited, from artwork to artwork, until its arrival at its current representation. It translates my artistic sensibility’s appreciation for the universe of computers, the powerful machinery of which invites us to explore the new pathways of science and art.
Patricia Van Dalen, August 2014