We live in a time when more and more often our experiences are confined to the flat screen of a digital device. Taking time to pause and interact with one another or artwork in a meaningful way is no longer common in our what’s-next, full-speed-ahead, modern world. Artificial intelligence is also impacting our daily lives in ways we never imagined. Its ability to recognize patterns, make decisions and judgements is changing our social norms and ushering us into all new territory.
What does it mean for our future to have “smart” machines that can imitate, and in some cases, replace us? What is lost or gained in the flat world of digital interactions and artificial intelligence? How can real-life human creativity continue to thrive? This set of 3D artwork, a collaboration between visual artist Beverly Patterson and her sister, poet Barb Campbell, explores these questions and more.
Barb creates poetry with an understanding of the semantics of the words and their sounds, rhythm, and musicality, but also with an eye for the new associations or “sparks” that can happen when some words are rubbed together. Her poems are often playful and lyrical, but they can take unexpected turns and delve deeply into fundamental issues of our existence, such as the cycle of life and death, the nature of consciousness, time, and reality. Beverly’s artwork, driven by a fascination with viewer’s perception, is visual and based on what the eye sees and how the mind interprets it. Both have different methods of artistic expression, yet they’ve discovered they have very similar concepts and impulses.
The idea in collaboration was for Beverly to explore her interpretation of the poetry and conceptually express it in a way that invites viewers to actively be engaged in their own experience. This collection is tied together by the four elements of matter: earth, water, air and fire. They also straddle a tight walk as they traverse the edge where left and right brain meet.
The intent is that the interaction with these 3D artworks further enhances the experience of the poetry. Built in are elements of surprise that reveal themselves and reward viewers who take the time to interact with the artwork. It is an important aspect of this work that it can only be truly experienced in person. This artwork engages with what makes us human and separates us from the machines – our emotions, imaginations, self-awareness and physical bodies.