Kyle Macdonald, new media artist

KyleMacDonald

KyleMacDonald

Kyle MacDonald is one of the youngest (26 yo this year, 2012) and more prominent new media artists well known in the community. He has a background in both philosophy and computer science. His works sometimes use technology in provocative ways. An overarching theme in his works is arguably about our relationship with technology. He is very good at adapting code for creative uses and his works have gained recognition for their concept and novelty. His website shows his portfolio of works. Here are two of his more famous ones:-

1) People Staring At Computers (2011)

“A photographic intervention. Custom app installed around NYC computer stores, taking a picture each minute and uploading it. Photos exhibited on site, full screen, on every computer.”

People Staring At Computers

People Staring At Computers

Video here.

Read this article.

He basically hacked into the computers at Mac stores and was traced by Apple and busted by the United States Secret Service. He could have been put in jail for up to 20 years but was let off with probably just a warning. Guerilla artist with style? I like this work because it raises the notion of what if? That is, we usually stare at computers, but what if the computer stares back at us? What do we look like from the perspective of the computer? This work challenges us to look at ourselves when we are least aware of ourselves, absorbed with our interaction with computers. What if computers became intelligent one day? We laugh and even cry in front of our screens when we watch movies or see emotive pictures for example. Wouldn’t it be interesting to capture this range of human expressions across time and space? From a disturbing perspective, this work also raises the problems of privacy. How much are we willing to tolerate breaches of our privacy? And in what cases?

2) Face Substitution Research (2011)

Face Substitution Research

Face Substitution Research

with Arturo Castro (one of the main developers behind OpenFrameworks). Real time face tracking and substitution experiments including a realization of the Scramble Suit and an interactive installation Faces that picks a new face for you every time you blink.”

Video here.

Read this article.

So what Kyle MacDonald did in this project was to create a program that can substitute your face with another person’s in real-time. This work raises issues about our online identities. While you can probably tell that this is no Michael Jackson in the video, and is in fact Kyle MacDonald, technology will eventually evolve to the point that we will not be able to tell the difference in the not-so-far future. What could this mean in terms of our virtual representations? How would this impact our online social interactions? Could computer games adopt this technology to create a new genre of games? How can we differentiate a real human identity in the electronic media and how does this matter?

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