Aberrations explores how the same set of photographic data fed into 3d software programs produces inconsistent results. Distortions become manifest through the algorithm’s misunderstanding of spatial information, suggesting the reliability and efficacy of these programs is distinctly flawed in its present technological iteration. The work exhibited is made in response to Philip K Dick’s text The Preserving Machine.
Dick’s short story about a scientist’s attempt to preserve what he percieves to be an important part of culture, resonates with a very human need to capture and arrest the world through photography. Dick’s narrative however is distinct in that it focuses on a transformational process, trying to preserve something intangible, musical script into living creatures. In this context we can read musical notation as a form of information. By putting the musical score into the preserving machine, Labyrinth is treating this material like data, setting the biological DNA for his creatures. Dick’s story suggests the inputting of data through a machine will always be a metamorphosis. Similarly, it is a fundamental misunderstanding to think that the data uploaded through 3d computational processes will not undergo some form of distortion, translation and possible mutation.
Labyrinth’s initial experiments seem to suggest there is some possibility of success, that the creatures can become emblematic of the musical notation. The Mozart bird seems a good expression of Mozart’s score, emerging as a bird in flight, but the other musical scripts each suggesting the distinct personality of their composer emerge as much more disturbing creatures such as the Wagner animal. What becomes clear is that Labyrinth appears to have no mastery over the results. The narrator describes what emerges from the preserving machine as subject to some strong invisible law that has taken over . This seems parallel to the lack of control when processing photographic information through computational processes. The Preserving machine remains an apt metaphor for the black box of computing. Measures can be set to ensure the capture or preservation is as accurate as possible with extensive camera rigs, but ultimately the software produces its own results which the user has little control over, the internal processes remain safely guarded by the software developers. It’s also significant that these processes are erratic. Despite the same data being inputted what emerges through the 3d processing is slightly different each time. It remains impossible at present to get exactly the same result. Each time the data is submitted the areas of distortion appear in slightly different places on a 3d model.
K Dick’s story seems to suggest a futility in seeking to preserve. He emphasizes the preservation of material into some other form will produce mutations. There appears to be a Frankenstein type warning here, with the animals undergoing some form of alteration/evolution themselves, becoming deadlier as they adapt to their external environment. It can prehaps be read as the cautionary tale of the dangers of trying to reproduce life, with references to Noah and the garden of Eden that “creatures alter and change to meet the needs of survival”. The other aspect Dick’s story highlights that is pertinent to 3d software processes, is that what is produced is effectively grown from the data inputted. These 3d forms mimetic qualities differ significantly from previous modes of image reproduction. There is something almost alchemical about the methods of spatializing photography. These models are as it were molecularly produced from photographic data. Computational processes because they are dependent on programmed algorithms produce something which doesn’t sit comfortably within our established categories of objects. The 3d entities that originate through software, neither sit easily between our conception of natural or technological objects.
The 3d models exhibited demonstrate examples of where the software cannot properly understand the co-ordinates of the digital photographic data inputted. Whiile the majority of the time the software produces a relatively complete model, on occasion it cannot effectively rationalize the data into a coherent form, producing extensive distortions or anomalies. The models shown here are produced by processing the same set of digital images multiple times, and each model is an example of where the software has failed to effectively spatialize that information. Aberrations represents a small study of the algorithm’s inability to effectively repeat the same set of actions and outcomes.