Re-Inventing the Wheel

A project for the exhibition Dis/Functional, May 10 - October 19, 1997, at the Arizona State University Art Museum, Tempe, Arizona

Overview of installation
Detail of hands
prototype of oil lamp
monitor detail
basement installation
detail of actual oil lamp

Artist Statement

"Re-inventing the Wheel" is an installation that provides a wide-angle view of the evolution of technology. The project seeks to understand the development of technology through a comparison of different contemporary techniques of reproduction and representation. 3D laser digitizing, computer modeling, and rapid prototyping have been used to translate actual prehistoric and historic artifacts into three parallel timelines. Each "history" is realized using a different mode of presentation: 24 scaled physical prototypes are presented on digitally altered hands; a slowly panning image of the "source" artifacts is seen via closed-circuit video; and a range of information on the objects in the form of text and images can be found on the internet (a link to which can be found in the Museum lobby). Bridging between the conventional gallery exhibit and the kind of experience found "on-line," the work explores different presentational modes, different spaces for the packaging of information, and the "tools" we use to represent and reproduce our past.

Dan Collins

May 1997


Statement from curator of the exhibition, John Spiak:

Dis/Functional, an exhibition of installation art, casts the artist, rather than the scientist, in the role of expert authority and aesthetic interpreter. Just as anthropologists, archaeologists, sociologists and historians grapple with persistent issues of religion, social and sexual relationships, education, politics and technology, the artists in this exhibition attempt to create a dialogue with the viewer about these subjects. Unlike scientists, however, their work leaves these issues open to individual interpretation, rather than striving to establish any "absolute truth". Though scientific pronouncements may once have been accepted as black and white, and essentially unassailable, current post-modern skepticism now informs our approach to these areas. This exhibition underscores the prevailing skepticism of our time.

What ultimately unites the artists of Dis/Functional is the medium of installation. The seven artists selected alter space to focus their audience visually upon questions of function and purpose. They incite the viewer to creative thought, sparking debate on problematic matters, rather than promoting complacent acceptance of pat answers and generally accepted truisms.

Example of Webpage that was displayed in Museum Lobby.

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