TradeAir extends concepts surrounding recent projects (dForm, 2008, Constructing Purgatory, 2004) in which form as a fluid medium is explored in relationship to artist / audience interaction.
Unlike dForm in which the viewer’s movement around the gallery activates machines manipulating clay columns, “TradeAir” establishes a real time link between gallery visitors and the artist in his Auckland studio allowing for collaborative inflation of rubber forms in the Sydney gallery.
Contemporary practices interest in the audience as part of the relational field that is embodied by the artwork, is frequently manifest in situational works that do not directly deal with the physicality of the gallery. While this approach can be identified in other of Charlton’s work (Constructing Purgatory) TradeAir seeks to assert the gallery as site of production that is a critical part of the studio process.
Each inflatable form (a bladder constructed from recycled truck inner tubes) holding approximately the tidal volume of the human lung is inflated when a gallery visitor blows into an exhalant device. These exhalant devices transmit data to microprocessors that control a manifold of valves allowing compressed air to be directed to specific cells within the form. Remotely, the artist is able to direct the input of participants to specific bladders/cells as well as electing to inflate and deflate specific cells himself.
As with the Dry Land Fish Transcoder (2009) Trade are engages with the transcoding of information. However here the representation of the source content is less oblique – breath translates to air. Trancoding serves simply a technical process through which the viewer and the artists input is mediated and made homogeneous. The artist and audiences breath is mixed through the common lung of technology that pumps life into the work.
This intimate yet distanced exchange is extended to a form of social exchange by the use of Twitter through which the artist delivers signals directly to the microprocessors and the network of “friends”. The strange coded stings of numbers – (2 3 4), (3 7 7), (2 6 1), (1 4 6), forming technologically mediated intimacy that is the distributed pulse of the social network.
Images uploaded to the web from the gallery enabled the artist to observe participationThe artist was notified by Twitter via his cellphone when visitors had activate the work. Linking to the web images enabled a Tweet to be returned that would inflate designated bladder.
Input signal from blower units is processed by a Make controller connected to a 8 X 8 multiplexer that provides 64 outputs from the 8 digital outs on the Make controller. This enable a total of 192 seperate actuators to be controlled. The actuators, designed and fabricted by Bill Thomson, used a muscle wire to open a trye valve. Software was written in MAX/MSP and Processing. and respond by selecting which bladders to inflate.
TradeAir was produced during a one month residency at ArtSpace, Sydney, AUS