January 7-28, 2018
Kio Griffith’s installation simulated characteristics of algorithmic systems using pre-digital media such as books, newspapers and cardboard boxes from vinyl record album sets. The project was inspired by the artist’s recent discovery of his late father’s diaries, which prompted him to think about how the concept of a diary has changed.
Traditionally, diaries were written in the author’s unique handwriting and read sequentially. Today, by contrast, they are recorded using digital platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, in which text comingles with photos, moving images and sounds. Reading online postings tends to be a fragmented experience, broken up by distracting text messages, pop-ups and links. Nor do we have total control over what to read any longer, as we are frequently guided by algorithms that make decisions for us. Even the tactile sensation of touching paper has given way to the sterile experience of viewing information though the transparent window of a digital monitor, tablet or phone.
Griffith’s in(poetry)2dexed effectively blurred distinctions between pre-digital and algorithmically controlled information. Mimicking the way algorithms shuffle bits of data from a variety of sources, the installation was an intriguing mash-up of vintage texts taken from different mediums, cultures and time periods. For one section, the artist installed a row of elegant minimal wall sculptures made by separating the cloth from the cardboard of Japanese dictionary and encyclopedia book covers. Elsewhere he presented newspaper collages overloaded with more text than one can possibly consume, and sculptures created by cutting up and restructuring books and record-set boxes to resemble architecture or to replicate patterns of sound frequencies.
The most captivating work in the exhibition was algorithm counter. This projected digital video resembled an odometer or slot machine with numerals arranged in three vertical columns that move at varied speeds and in different directions according to a score based on Dvorák’s New World Symphony. Presented in black-and-white to yield the raw appearance of analog, the video displays a brilliant and visually enticing blend of references to old and “new world” data systems.