No one is even slightly surprised to watch a movie clip with slow motion version of and even -- of running animal, or an exploding vehicle. Slow motion images seem just as real as anything else. Yet, this ability to play with time is something we did not have before cinematography was discovered, which was just a hundred years ago. No one in the 19th century could imagine slowing down time, and if shown for the first time would have found it most unreal.
Today television channels all over the world are filled with "Reality TV" shows. Do we accept them as "real", or do we consider them somewhat artificial? We have probably created a new compartment in our minds that is neither real not fictional, but something in-between the two.
There are video gamers who spend a lot of time in their preferred virtual worlds. Some of these worlds are as large and complex as a big metropolis. Advertisers put ads of real world products in these virtual worlds, and professional player acquire virtual weapons that they later sell in the real world for real money. Gamers are regularly purchasing virtual artifacts to adorn their avatars and to decorate their virtual homes using real money. Lines are getting fuzzy.
Social Networks are making all forms of social interaction more and more virtual. We are almost constantly in touch with our friends, talking to them, without any geographical boundaries or delays. When I look into a computer screen, I am looking into another world where virtual worlds and real friends coexist. From within this world I look out into the real world of information, news, and knowledge.
Our identity, our personality, is essentially a function of our lifetime memory. For anyone with a digital lifestyle, most of our memories lie outside our bodies. They are scattered in all the emails we wrote in our lifetime, all the phone conversations, all the pictures we stored on our computers or on the Web, all the tweets, and the Facebook posts. This distributed memory is essentially an extension of our mind, but it is so large that we can never hope to store them back into our head again. When my computer died, a part of my memory died with it.
Swiping my finger on an iPad screen slides the image underneath and the screen image keeps rolling even after lifting my finger up. Then it starts slowing down and eventually stops, following the usual laws of physics. If I put my finger down again on the rolling image, it would stop immediately, just like a real object with mass and inertia. Very soon devices will also provide tactile feedback when we touch a screen. Someday soon the distinction between these simulations and the real thing will be so small that our brains and our senses will start treating them identically.
We are living in a world full of synthetic reality. The pace of this transformation is speeding up. All this is changing our minds in ways that we have never experienced before. Through my art I am trying to capture this profound and unprecedented shift. I use whatever media is necessary to express my thoughts. Since a lot of this shift is happening because of electronic technology, it is inevitable that my work uses electronics as its building blocks. Some of them are just old electronic parts, while others are live electronics performing some display function or automation.
As an example of of my work, consider a simple pendulum, The time it takes a pendulum to complete a swing depends on the length of the pendulum. Even though most of us may not know the actual mathematical relationship, we intuitively know how long it takes. In this work, called Pendulums, the three pendulums look normal, but one of them swings at a slower pace. This odd pendulum could be from a planet with half our gravity, or the time could be running slow. What we could only achieve through space travel, or through the illusion of slow motion photography, is realized here with synthetic reality.