Kinect, stepper motors, pen, plywood, motion control system, 9 sheets Fabriano Accademia
Exhibited at BLINDSIDE Gallery in April 2016, Otto consisted of an anthropomorphised drawing machine named Otto—sensitive to the presence and absence of the audience—and nine sheets of blank paper hung on the gallery wall. This project was a continuation of my investigations (Reflex and Time, Space, You and I all go Round and Round and Round and Round) into a destabilisation of the artist-artwork-audience boundary through interactivity and outsourcing.
For each of the nine days of the exhibition, I would come into the gallery first thing in the morning and ritualistically prepare Otto for the day; taking down the drawing from the day before, calibrating the machine, loading a blank sheet of paper and then finally activating the drawing process. This ritualistic care acted to signify the breakdown of my role as the artist (I essentially became a carer) and to foreground Otto’s interdependence with me.
Once started for the day, Otto’s algorithm created a drawing that simulated the growth patterns of mycelium. Using input from a motion-sensor, the algorithm modulated the growth of the mycelium drawing in direct response to the presence and absence of the audience in the gallery. Presence acted as food, allowing the mycelium to thrive and grow into densely packed filamentary structures. Absence acted as poison, shutting the growth down. It could even lead to death. By tying the “health” of the drawing to presence and absence of the audience, I was exploring the incredibly strange and unclear contingency of our beings.