Beryl, Rob, Susan - Thanks for your own stories on the fun of dealing with the
woes of electronic art.
In many ways I feel like Rob, as one of my degrees is in Electronic
Engineering, a credential that has served me in this field as you would not
believe. For example, there were times where the knowledge of being able to
quickly map out power flows, write much of my own code (although I'm a middling
programmer at best - I just reviewed my college transcripts), and technical
logistics in my head on the fly have saved me endless problems as an artist and
curator. In this genre where there is a great deal of demand but a lack of
cross-disciplinary (and this is the wrong word, so please forgive me here)
'aptitude' in the gallery, one has to use the old engineering practice of
designing for the 'worst case scenario'.
The place where I have had the most problems is in the area of my responsive
generative soundscapes (http://www.voyd.com/grid). Before I migrated the whole
thing to a Vaio laptop and utilized MIDI loopback cables, I had to use no less
than two machines, using arcane boot sequences, as well as haiving to run two
concurrent programs on one, one on the other, and make sure the generative
engine was talking properly to everything.
Such was not always the case, as a Pavo Custom Midi Interface that I hacked had
the nasty tendency to create a floating condition on a control due to a thermal
problem, and suddenly the interface to the whole room was reading on channel
11, or 7, or 5, or 3.14156... :). I located the problem and installed a
pulldown resistor, but I could not have even imagined that any curator would
have been able to help, let alone track that down.
And the same goes for Internet troubleshooting, etc., although I'm a little shy
However, with that particular piece, I've lost the Pavo, gone to an ICube (much
more reliable), consolidated all operations to two programs on one machine, and
made the boot sequence much simpler. However, I still get concerns from
galleries that they are scared that they will not be able to support such a
piece, regardless of the simplification.
On another fron, I've been considering researching art that operates from
alternative power sources, such as solar power with batteries and an inverter.
As power demand in the States creates more frequent interruptions in service, I
think that artists in the technological arts will once again have to revisit
the 'worst case scenario' and consider what they will need to do to address the
problems of unexpected power outages. Power surges/spikes at time of shutoff,
the potential of OS corruption in computer based installs, and even the
possibility of using satellite-based Internet links to assure connection
(during clear weather, of course) in times of widespread blackouts.
I realize that my scenarios are rather extreme, but not unreasonable.
SInce I just got up, I might have been a little incoherent, but I hope that you
get the gist.