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Perception Perspective, by Elizabeth Jones


In this year’s Senior Show the results of how people surrender control to technology, and how people are engaging in less human interaction and more impersonal communication, can alter perception of experiences were examined. Specifically, altered reality, computers that seem to think and feel, and a loss of control were represented to help contribute to this ‘zombie’ state of mind (Cress Gallery, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga: April 4, - 15, 2011).

In Suzanne Heartfield‘s work If Only We Could See, 2011, two large color photographs depict a female and a male subject staring blankly at us. The images are blurred and monumental in size, thus contributing to the overwhelming feeling of the static stare we see as we return their gaze. This perception is a reflection of the effect of how technology is altering our lives and of those around us as we constantly upgrade and engage in the ever changing world of technology. It leaves the viewer feeling disoriented, perhaps with trace memories of the extensive hours of human/computer interaction. Engaging in technology on a day to day basis leaves some of us conscious of the effect it has on us, while others who continue to ritually engage in technology live in a zombielike state of mind unaware of its effect on them as suggested by the artist. As technology continues to evolve, will we let it take complete control of our lives, perhaps even allowing it to feel or think for us? This concept of the exchange of feeling with technology can be seen in Emotion Interaction, 2011 by Catie Schultz. The participant can choose from a list of feelings and select one, and the computer in response will generate images that it determines are appropriate for the selected feeling. This participation of the technological world in our everyday use of communication can be viewed as both positive and negative as we give up our control over certain aspects of our lives to these devices that are changing our perception of the world.

Loss of control is highlighted in the brightly colored digital prints of the artist Austin Reed as he leaves the outcome of his works to chance. The artist noted that “Letting go and letting the process take over was important” to the work and him personally as “[I] will do thing suddenly on the fly. I start something and see what comes out of it.” Looking at his prints, we see bright colors that have moved into each other and seem to float on the page, creating unpredictable patterns and movements out of this positive lost of control. From the base of the prints, colored strings spill to the floor in a pool of colors, mimicking the swirl of action that takes place above. In contrast to the positive loss of control in Reed’s work, we see a darker side presented to us in the work of Sarah Kyle. She depicts photographs of herself, with ink stained glass to resemble the influence that six months of medication had on her body. As the medication took over her body, her physical and emotional states were affected negatively by the invasion of this substance. The artist speaks about how overwhelming the experience was for her. She has reflected this in her series, Effect, 2011, with the heavy build up of black ink on the surface suggesting an altered perception in her self-portraits. Together these reflections on loss of control and the invasion of technology suggest how life as we know it is constantly changing and whether it is for the worst or the best remains to be seen.

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