Machine Voices

Tom Schofield


There are tensions, apparent to us now as never before, between the polished gloss of consumer technologies, their intuitive design, their smooth interfaces and the hard, angular and unforgiving infrastructures of programming, electronics and electrics which make them possible. Ongoing industry directions to cluster and integrate in services such as Apple's iCloud present disparate agents as one unified object. This ideological project of gathering, abstracts users ever further from the affordances and techne of things in themselves. A gap is perceived then between image and canvas, between surface and depth.

A short survey of the critical and philosophical implications of this dissonance will be undertaken with an emphasis on the discursive territories opened for artists and in particular the creative opportunities of directly using examples of 'machine voices': glitch, static, recordings or traces of magnetism as art making materials. It will be argued that such materials allow practitioners to collapse distances between image and object. Two recent artworks will be discussed which explore such possibilities in the context of screen-based art.

It will be further posited that technological development has depended on a subjectivity distributed between humans and non-humans and that to acknowledge this is crucial in evaluating not only our own relationships with and attitudes to media but also outside the sphere of human concerns in the great outdoors of metaphysics.


aesthetics; materialism; data; media archaeology



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