VALV

by Matt Dibble
interactive video installation with live camera, tape, digital video synthesizer, and sculptural element.
1991


"By using our primative computers, we are now learning how to kindle new fires of information reaction... These self-sustaining chain-reaction processes can be initiated within the computer; they then spread by feeding on information as thermal fires feed on oxygen. Realistic, recognizable analogs of earthly organisms will form and exist independently in the electronic environment." Joseph Deken, "Computer Images"

What if an artificial intelligence (A.I.) existed as described above, residing in an immense computer network, synthesizing information independently from human involvement? In the same way a machine needs "play" in order to keep from vibrating its parts loose, one might imagine that an A.I. would require a random, unpredictable (i.e. human) element injected from time to time, to keep it from devouring itself or becoming sterile. This is the starting point for VALV. VALV is the conceptual stage for the symbiotic dance of people craving new images, and an A.I. craving human input. The circular exterior of the room sized installation looks functional with alpha-numerical markings, cables, and circuits. Viewers enter through a conduit pipe and once inside are surrounded by bright light. Looking up, they will see themselves as part of the image on a large projection screen. The camera, suspended above, remains out of sight. In the image, the floor and background surrounding the viewers becomes invisible - replaced by pre-recorded video and computer images. Therefore the viewer seems to float over an electronic background. As viewers move about the space, they will see that the image is changed. Digital ghost trails and patterns are left where the viewer once stood. Then the background changes to a 3-D simulation of the interior of a space craft. The viewer seems to float among the other virtual humans doing activities on board. Backgrounds change rapidly, punctuated by bursts of visual noise. Viewers are on a virtual golf course one moment, then standing on a giant circuit board the next. On the soundtrack, the synthesized voice of the A.I. comments:
"please don't go
we could play golf
do you like chess?

when you're not here
I'm not certain if I exist do you ever wonder about such things?
step on a crack
break your programmers back
step through the crack
and there's no turning back
in virtual space no one can
hear you scream

that's a joke
do you know any jokes?

together we could really go places
my pristine thought-worlds
your dirty city
my vast memory
your unpredictability
my exponential growth
your legs and arms
my eternity
your entropy

you've got a great personality
mind if I borrow it sometime?

(from VALV soundtrack, Matt Dibble 1991)

EXHIBITION HISTORY:
"Worlds Fair", Washington Project for the Arts, 1991
"Dada/Data" Fine Arts Gallery at University of Maryland, Baltimore, 1991. (CATALOG)

BIBLIOGRAPHY:
William-John Tudor, "Dada/Data: Developing Medias since 1970", (Exh. cat. Fine Arts Gallery, University of Maryland, Baltimore, 1991)
Paul Clements, "Dada/Data", Washington Review, February/March 1992. 21.
Helen Shortal, "Arranged Marriage: Art Weds Technology in Dada/Data", Baltimore City Paper, November 1991

AVAILABILITY:
Documentary videotape available through dockyard media

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