Wednesday, May 25, 2016

RECAP // Coffee Date with David Bowen

On Saturday, May 21, members joined artist David Bowen for a cozy discussion in the Mattress Factory café. David’s work SPACEJUNK premiered only the day before at the 2016 Factory Installed exhibition, allowing members to be among the very first to learn about the process behind the creation of SPACEJUNK!

David uses robotics, sensors and custom-built software to explore the intersections between natural and mechanical systems. He kicked off the discussion by sharing some of his previous works, including Tele-Present Water, an installation that replicated the movement and intensity of water based on data from a buoy adrift in the Pacific Ocean.

This idea of communicating a remote experience using data is also echoed in David’s work at the Mattress Factory. He explained that there are over 500,000 pieces of human-made space debris circling the earth! These can range from spent rocket bodies, satellites, to tools from previous space missions. David talked about his fascination with the subject, how “so much energy was put into launching these things, and yet now they are in this state of slow decay.”

David designed a program to scrape data from a website that tracks the orbiting human-made debris. Then he built 50 machines to point twigs in unison towards the oldest piece currently above the horizon. What results is a mesmerizing (and sometimes startling!) display that is constantly changing as debris appear and disappear beyond the horizon.

Up close to the works, members got to ask David all sorts of questions about the process of putting together the installation and the different components of the piece. “I love learning about such completely unexpected things like this and seeing the overlap with art and technology," one member shared.

Join us for our next Coffee Date with Lauren Kalman on Saturday, July 30, 2016 at 10:30am.

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