In Art: Digital Media
Book article: KIT by
Alrededor De: Proyectar La Periferia
(Around: Planning the Periphery)
Book article: Greylands
(Formely New Toxic Homes) by
Sara Nadal and Carles Puig
Book article: Flight Interstitial
by Michael Boyce
Article: KIT by
From Directions In Art: Digital
Published by Heinemann, Oxford, England, 2002
KIT are an international group
of young artists, who choose not to identify their gender
or race, and who also work with other people such as landscape
designers and architects depending on the needs of their projects.
They work in galleries, in public spaces, and on the Internet.
"… KIT construct,
fall apart and reconstruct for each project they do."
Joyriding in the Land that
Time Forgot (1998)
This artwork was made for Yorkshire
Sculpture Park, which is set in the grounds of a stately home,
and has outdoor sculptures by artists such as Henry Moore
(1898-1986). KIT exhibited a series of wheeled 'tents', made
from canvas that had been printed on a digital ink jet printer.
The images on the tents were images of background landscapes
from computer games such as Jurassic Park . KIT are very interested
in the history of landscapes and public places, and deliberately
placed digital artwork in the 'romantic' or 'classical' landscape.
Video game landscapes are obviously artificial, but so are
the sculpture park grounds, because they were designed and
made by landscape gardeners in the 18th Century, and updated
with landscape fashions such as a fake Greek Temple.
KIT also made an Internet computer
game as part of this artwork, and an indoor installation called
Re*Action Hero in the small gallery at the sculpture park.
This installation was several 'punchbags', again made of canvas
with digitally-printed images from computer games, and it
refers to the violence of some games. With this artwork, KIT
ask "what is The Land the Time Forgot?"
Another artwork project by KIT
also involved the landscape, but in a city setting. KIT Homes
(1997) took place at a school in Widnes, which was shortly
to be demolished to make way for a private housing estate.
Kit worked with children at the school to design 'ideal homes',
and they also requested on the Internet that people send in
their own plans. Selected floor plans by the children, and
from the Internet, were then drawn onto the school playing
fields, using a football pitch line marker that made chalk
lines on the grass. Aerial photographs were taken of the site,
and were displayed (along with the plans) on the Internet,
and in an office on the school site, which mimicked the house
sales offices of nearby construction companies. Because the
school had been built with donations from the local community,
which was mostly public housing, this artwork asked questions
about public spaces and private places, and was made for …
" … the local children
of the community who would be able to remember the space when
it was fields, but with their plans of perfection on them."
Because people could participate
on the Internet as well as in the real place, KIT called the
approach "virtual geography". Other KIT projects
with the same approach include Greylands. These are projects
where KIT travel to places including Mexico and Canada, choose
a piece of wasteland (sometimes this land has been contaminated
with industrial waste), and put images of this land on the
Internet. On the web site, people can "buy" areas
of land, and send in their plans for what they would do with
KIT have also done artworks
such as Vacancy KIT (1994) which involved encasing computers
in concrete. Jen Southern, (an artist who works with KIT but
also does solo work), made an artwork called Roam (2001),
which was a series of dresses from digitally-printed fabric,
advertised on a web site, shown in galleries, and available
from "outlets". Often, KIT make artworks in places
where you wouldn't expect to find art.
Other Artists and Influences
KIT are influenced by the places
that they work, and the particular tools that they use for
each project. The chalk markings on the grass of Kit Homes
, for example, make reference to the huge figures cut from
turf to show white chalk underneath, such as the Cerne Abbas
giant, which was made in the 9th Century.
Other artists who have worked
with site-specific installations include Rachel Whiteread,
whose concrete-filled House (1993) in London, concerned personal
and public spaces, and a sense of history. She also makes
other artworks that appear in gallery or museum spaces. Not
many artists work with digital media in the rural landscape,
but the Makrolab project placed a specially-made large silver
mobile living and working space in the Highlands of Scotland
in 2002. The 'lab' was equipped with satellite telecommunications
receivers and computers, and artists worked with 'streams
of data', which were about anything from weather information
to commercial communications, to make artworks. Rafael Lozano-Hemmer
(in this book) also uses a combination of real urban landscapes
and the 'virtual space' of the Internet.
The Internet has a long history
of ecological organisations using it to swap information and
to campaign internationally, so again digital media could
be said to have a connection to the landscape, even though
it involves new technology rather than natural materials.
Tools and Techniques
KIT work collectively to make
site-specific artworks. They use materials from concrete to
video game software. They also organise other experts to make
parts of the artwork, such as having aerial photographs made,
having digital prints made, or having portacabins delivered.
This approach of using lots of different materials and influences
from commerce, culture, art, and media could be described
as a postmodern approach.
Because they work with
other people and community groups, they have to be good at
helping and communicating, even between themselves. Because
members of KIT live in the UK, Canada and Australia, they
use email and the Internet for this communication, as well
as for the finished artwork.
Alrededor De: Proyectar La Periferia
Published by Gustavo Gili (GG), Barcelona, Spain, 2002
article: Greylands (Formely New Toxic
Homes) by Sara Nadal
and Carles Puig
From Alrededor De (Around):
Proyectar La Periferia (Planning the Periphery)
Published by Gustavo Gili (GG), Barcelona, Spain, 2002
This project by KIT, a collective
of artists / architects / landscapists, proceeds from a presupposition
of the decadence of the suburb / residential neighborhood
by recourse to the metaphor of a real condemned space located
in Ottawa. Characteristically – KIT is an interdisciplinary
entity -, this involves a theoretical vision as well as an
architectural project, a landscaping intervention, an art
installation or an example of political activism.
The project proposes the metaphorical,
virtual re-colonizing of a territory declared as toxic and
uninhabitable by Canadian authorities. The visitor to the
installation is invited to design a building /house by computer.
The design enters a computer network, is transmitted and reproduced
in the actual toxic territory of Ottawa by an on-site robot.
The project advocates
the design of virtual dwellings that combine the metaphor
of colonization with the ironic inscription of its impossibility.
It is a question, then, of “dislocating a location”
so as to substitute it by an autonomous and virtual one. The
periphery is thus opened up to virtuality and its ironies.
In this instance, critique is also a proposal. The irony of
recycling is revealed: salvaging is an admission of previous
failure, of former destruction.
From Image / Duration
Published by Gallery 101, Ottawa, Canada, 1999
1. Objects: Two bunkers
cum photobooths cum time machines with two-way surveillance.
They are also, to me, like blemishes
or eruptions from the ground below, where here, ground is
to be taken in a rounded sense to include both geophysical
as well as discursive values. The vestiges of earth upon and
about them work as traces, but also as camouflage. Either
way the earth reinforces in a similar fashion insofar as earth
elementally fortifies construction in areas both geophysical
and symbolic. Of course, as blemish or eruption, the earth
is like traces of skin broken away, and indeed there is a
general sense of breaking away from earth literally and figuratively.
The site locations (see 2. Locations) of the booths would
seem to reassure this indication. However, as bunkers they
are all the better dug in for it, and so not so much hailing
from the earth as fortified by it and lodged within it --
using it, in effect. Either way it is a disruption of earth
This disruption has a couple
of trajectories (or consequences). It is at once the indication
of a disruption unsolicited and damaging and a perpetrator
of it in defense. In the service of earth (the concrete) it
is an active/reactive machine engaged at some aggressive level
with institutional abstractions, particularly around notions
of space and time. The bunker, after all, is a martial housing
(and this, then (?), would be a martial art).
Ground departure is shown as
implicated with respect to motive, despite recent cybernetic
rhetoric making similar departures with claims to structurally
undetermined and noncomplicit relations to ethics. Whether
or not this latter claim is correct, probable or possible,
it is to specific institutions who ride the wave of this discourse's
euphoria that the piece is addressed. In those arenas, departure
and flight from (the) ground is the occasion for a more efficient
territorialization of communications and general socio-political
management, made more fluid by embracing at a discursive level
more ethereal notions of time and space while at a corporate
level rutting for control of as many entry points and metering
the duration of as much occupation as possible. The institutions
per se remain vague, which is important to do; although there
are specific sites (see 2. Locations) which belong to specific
corporations, it is not, it would seem, about name-calling,
so much as it is about the institutional machinery -- or what
might be oxymoronically called the corporate spirit -- itself.
The object as photobooth is
surveillance under the guise of narcissism. Like a trojan
horse invited into expectation of self-gratification and the
reassurance of presence, its attracking force within hits
with alterity and absence. Of course, this done with a degree
of humour. Or at least I find it funny. If you go into a photobooth
and end up with someone else's photo, how do you feel about
it? I suppose it could be cause for concern; it may even challenge
your basic sense of identity. But what if the whole idea was
to grab a print-out of the other person to begin with? The
booth appearing to be a photobooth (although granted, a highly
militant looking one) is a disarming feature of what in fact
is an intrusion and theft of someone else's identity (so to
speak). Of course persons in either booth can play tit for
tat in this respect so the central agent (or agency) of surveillance
is once again vague; and once again this is appropriate --
at least insofar as it draws to my mind Foucault-like notions
of individual internalizations of social surveillance/control/management
mechanisms (eg. you are your own liquor control board, or
you are at once prison, warden, guard and prisoner). Perhaps,
then, the point is the process of getting someone else on
file (as it were). That is, the banality of it all bespeaks
the degree to which a cynical relationship towards inhabiting
space (to the very idea of presence) has become socially endemic.
The presentation of this relation
remains as the bunker does interstitial inasmuch as it is
at once the condition or consequence of an exterior program/agent/agency
as well as a practitioner of the same strategy. It inverts
the relationship of presence and absence (taking the strategy
of digital territorializing which offers you a presence or
comfort zone in emptiness and flipping it to secure the presence
of that emptiness) at structural level which results in an
There is an inside view and
an outside view. The interior is personal, presenting another
body (if there happens to be one in the booth at the time),
the outside one is contextual -- presenting a view of your
space superimposed within their space. Of course if no one
resides in the booth at the time you look, you see your own
space emptied -- you see your context without your identity.
This, as it turns out, may be a rather radical theory. Identity
is not context bound/specific. When elements are freed up
(so to speak) like this they become more fluid -- and thence
(it would seem) easier to manipulate (both for you and someone/thing
The object as time-machine is
more circumstantial; it is a by-product of the booth as surveillance
machine. It presents a view to another locale which in the
logic of the piece as a whole presents an interstitial time
frame -- between an official and a technical time. Official
and Technical are not the same here. They challenge one another,
but perhaps they do so while also reinforcing one another.
Officially, you look into future or the past; technically
you look into the present (i.e. because the booths are located
in different time zones and are crossed into one another --
see 2. Locations). In this respect, the technical remains
interstitial; it remains between time lines. It also manages
geographical coordinates as copresent; it is the same space
though its content shows a variable. You are both there and
not there, you and someone else. And the space you are in
is both where/when you are and where/when you are not. Officially,
this is displacement; technically, it is fusion.
Time is as much subject to property
rights as space. Perhaps the more unbounded by borders the
globalization of communication pretends to be, the more specific,
secured and local the borders actually are.
2. Locations: One in
a museum of science and technology, the other in the departure
lounge of an international airport.
The two locales are copresent
within an official time zone difference of 5 hours. The booth
as an installation/eruption within an archive (i.e. the museum)
-- granted by gatekeepers of this organization, presumably
under the popular and highly coveted auspices of electronic
interactive media are). Proprietary objects reflective of
the past and which harbour promise for the future. Time as
property. Time, therefore, as space. Time/space as a relation
which begs narrative (and hence coherence, lineage, proprietorship).
The booth as an installation/eruption
upon a flight platform (i.e. with the departure lounge of
an international airport -- and of a capital city I would
add). Sanctioned as is the other location by a municipal (local)
directory serving an international (global) interest. The
booths are physically located within these specific areas
but they operate between them. This is appropriate inasmuch
as the operations and functional relations of the institutions
are both points of departure. In this respect their specificity
as place is meant to be absent -- it's about where they lead
to. This structural obfuscation is borne by the booths as
the burden of the locations.
Presence as appearance
rendered as fiction is an operation which can serve interests
motivated by gain using false premises (pun intended). Presence
as so blatantly announced by the booths creates friction (over
fiction). Of course, it is still made up (insofar as it is
informed with any portance) but it differs in that its shifting
operation -- its occupation between spaces and times -- highlights
its present effects.