T. Scott Hooper
MFA Graduate Degree Show
Before the Industrial Age people had few possessions; they were all hand made.
After the Industrial Age people had many possessions; few were hand made.
In the Information Age people will have infinite possessions; most will be constructs of the mind.
You are viewing this show sitting in front of a computer monitor instead of standing in a gallery. Clearly technology is changing the way we do things. We have entered an age dominated by the acquisition and dissemination of information. There has been, in fact a revolution. We continue to develop technology to shuttle information from place to place. The information being moved by the technology is what is important, since much of the technology is a vehicle for ideas.
The products of technology were once used by the few but have now become available to the masses. Web browsers and e-mail viewers have been incorporated into such commodity items as telephones, TVs, and beepers. Computers are sold next to toasters at appliance stores. With so much information readily available, what do we value? What do we select for importance? What should be the artistic legacy of this time frame?
As an artist caught up in the transition from the industrial age to the information age, I have chosen to create pieces that carry strong markers of the time when technology expressed itself in shinny, smooth, hard lined, gear-like mechanisms. My objects for ornamentation are designed with industrial strength materials: ferrous and non-ferrous metals, tire grade rubber; non-biodegradable acrylics. They have strong locking devices and parts that move in smooth logical linear modes. They represent the artistically articulated form of a changing culture. Since an artist provides the continuum that allows one time frame to build a bridge to the next one, I felt that my pieces must reflect this transition from the industrial to the information age.
The work you see below evolved during six years of investigation into the production of objects through digitally based techniques. As an undergraduate at Tyler School of Art's metals program, I enrolled in Stanley Lechtzin's first CAD/CAM class. Already possessing much computer experience, I thought that CAD/CAM would be a new and useful tool and would surely help me to be more productive. I was already very interested in industrial design, and used machine tool processes in much of my work. I never 'took to the hammer' as most metals students had, thinking it to be a very inefficient technique for the realization of form. Instead I began to spend most of my time working on the computer. The steep learning curve and the stumbling blocks typically encountered by early adopters of technology kept CAD/CAM from being a real productivity boost in the early years though.
By the end of my undergraduate studies, it was obvious that there was still much for me to learn at Tyler.
During the next two years as a graduate student I tried to design objects that I believed were appropriate for the CAD/CAM process. My criteria for appropriateness was an object's ability to be produced entirely on the CNC milling machine. I applied my knowledge of machining to the piece as it was built in the CAD environment. Soon, however, my focus shifted entirely to building the objects in CAD. The machining process had become a distraction to me, and I came to consider the CAD object a finished piece. Choosing whether to later articulate the object in some other manner does not affect the finished CAD object. Tangible articulations, renderings, animations and VR models are all just other ways to express the object. I continued to investigate objects with intrinsic mechanisms that defined the form of the piece. The object's form should explain how the piece functions. I began using photo-realistic renderers that allowed me to skip the machining process altogether and still bring a piece to such fruition that others could experience the work. Later I added animation and am now am experimenting with virtual reality to enhance the viewer's 'gallery' experience.
This is an exciting time for me as an artist. The digital nature of this body of work reflects the world's sprawling digital infrastructure which offers the following advantages over traditional processes:
In the past we were constrained to create objects with physicality to convey our ideas. We now have many options. Our world is full of technologies that allow us to produce work that can be enjoyed by millions and interacted with in completely new ways. Until recently, the physical object was the only interface the viewer had to the ideas the artist working in 3D was attempting to convey. We no longer need to be overly concerned with the physicality of the work, since it is only one of the many ways we may choose to present work. Once freed from the physicality, many new and exciting opportunities present themselves to the artist. The work below, while labeled with tangible materials and adhering to the constraints of manufacturability, are 2D articulations of CAD objects some of which have also been articulated in tangible form.
Cultures throughout time have been 'read' by future generations most often through the objects produced by each age's artists. The artifacts become just that -art facts- that lead to an understanding of what was valued. My work is my attempt to create artifacts that will provide the future with an appreciation for the industrial age expressed in the language of the information age.
produced or used in any form or by any means without written permission.