Why is 'virtual' often synonymous with 'digital'? I suspect that the term 'virtual reality' had something to do with it, as when it was coined in the early 1990's new visions of digitally-driven immersive experiences invaded popular culture. Star Trek: The Next Generation, The Lawnmower Man, Max Headroom, and similar media exploited early digital technologies to imagine a future of complex virtual environments. But "virtuality"—the systematic approximation and representation of reality—existed long before computers. The adjective “virtual” has been in continuous use since the 15th century, meaning “senses relating to essential, as opposed to physical or actual, existence." To wit: “physical-like”, or “real-ish.” With this definition, virtuality not only existed before computers, but it would seem that humans have always been virtual. Early mathematics and painting relied on shadows—real-time projected images, and Renaissance painters sought verisimilitude with linear perspective. Our long pursuit of virtual technologies now meets a perfect engine in computation.
[Presented at Aksioma Institute of Contemporary Art, Ljubljana, Slovenia, at the solo exhibition opening of "Pablo Garcia: Adventures in Virtuality" , April 2014]
What do we mean when we call something fake? Lies? Hoax? Misinformation, spin, satire, mistake, counterfeit? Not all fakes are created equal. #FAKENEWS has the world debating the nature of truth and facts. What does "fake" mean now? Is "fake" universally bad, or are there benevolent fakes?
[Presented at TEDxVienna, Vienna, Austria. October, 2017]
100 years ago, Marcel Duchamp made "Fountain." He didn't "make" the object—it was a commercially manufactured urinal—he "made" the artwork. Fountain is art because Duchamp called it art. Its influence on art is undeniable: it made context a medium alongside paint, clay, film and the other Fine Arts. A century later, context is arguably the only medium that matters. It's through context that content earns meaning. But content easily migrates through innumerable coincident contexts, thanks to the proscenia of web browsers and hardware bezels, sharing networks, high octane appropriation, and digital manipulation. Something you make can be endlessly recontextualized. If all contexts are plausible destinations to any given content, what happens when you live within the context of all contexts?
[Presented at KIKK Festival, Namur, Belgium. November, 2016]
This modern incarnation of a centuries-old drawing tool demonstrates how art and technology have always been intertwined. We chat with Pablo Garcia, creator of the NeoLucida, about the use of optical aids for art and scientific illustrations in the age before photography. Pablo also shows off his new NeoLucida XL, which we test in a drawing demo!
[Interview with Norman Chan on Adam Savage's TESTED]
Mechanized drawing existed long before computers. Methods for automating drawing—especially drawing from life—appeared simultaneously with the earliest descriptions of constructing linear perspective. What does this long quest for computed drawing tell us about our relationship with technology? What does this mean for the presumed novelty of the computer? What does it mean to be "virtual"?
[Presented at MIT School of Architecture Computation Lecture Series, October 2013]
Hacking isn't limited to code. Hacking is an ethic. Taking things apart, reverse engineering and tinkering help us see the world better. When we improve on what we hack—and share what we hack—we MAKE the world better. This open access ethic is lost in the age of Patent Trolls and Weaponized Intellectual Property laws. We can learn a lot about the hacking ethic by taking a trip back to 1600, After the Renaissance, artists, scientists and inventors used the hacking ethic—without ever using the world "hacking"—to do nothing less than invent science itself in the subsequent age of Scientific Revolution.
[Presented as an Ignite Talk at EYEO Festival, Minneapolis, USA, 2013]
The camera lucida is a 19th century drawing aid, like a mirror on a stick, that lets you trace whatever you see. But controversial new evidence shows the Old Masters used optical aids, raising questions about the purity of art. As a provocation, artists Golan Levin and Pablo Garcia decided to make their own in the NeoLucida, a $30 device that democratizes art by letting amateurs explore the intersection of technology and art history.
[Presented at XOXO Festival, Portland, USA, 2014]