Starting on the 8 February, students, staff and alumni from Camberwell, Chelsea and Wimbledon who make up the Digital Maker Collective will be collaborating on a series of four exciting events as part of Tate Exchange, an annual programme of public events that takes place at Tate Modern’s new Switch House building, that brings together international artists and over 50 partners who work within and beyond the arts.
The Digital Maker Collective are an open group who share common goals of exploring digital and emerging technologies in the context of arts, education, society and the creative industries. For Tate Exchange, they will be inviting visitors to take part in digital experiments, performances, interventions, and conversation at interdisciplinary pop-up gatherings, and explore everything digital including virtual and augmented reality, creating artificial creatures and using microcomputers and biofeedback devices to create interactive objects.
Daniel Bandfield is a student in his final year of BA Fine Art at Chelsea, and is a member of the Collective. For Tate Exchange, he will be part of the Physical Computing camp which will showcase projects that use coding and electronics within artworks.
We spoke to Daniel about how he works with digital in his artistic practice, why he made the shift from static sculpture and ceramics t digital and how using this technology affects the way that audiences view and relate to his artwork.
Please tell me a bit about your practice and your interests as an artist
My practice varies quite a bit, but at the moment mostly involves virtual worlds and electronic, interactive installations. It’s really important to me that the work I make has an agency of it’s own and develops meaning through an active relationship with the user. I like to explore alternative viewpoints on what can be considered alive or conscious, especially in terms of machines and artificial intelligence. I also like to play with the revealing and obscuration of complex systems.
Please tell me how working with digital affects and adds to your work as an artist
Learning more about computers has also changed my conceptual concerns. They form such a large part of our lives and having some knowledge of their inner workings helps me to understand human culture. Machines and humans live in a symbiotic relationship, and you can’t understand one without understanding the other. I’ve also developed a much greater interest in the effects technological development will have on us, now that I have a greater appreciation of the potential of artificial intelligence.
How did you become interested in digital technologies?
I started working with digital technology in my second year, after learning how to create a digital exhibition as an experimental counterpart to a physical exhibition. I found the process a much better fit for the way that I think than the ceramics I was making at the time. It’s fraught with frustration, but I found programming to be a solution to a lot of the difficulties I was having working with static sculpture. Since then, all my work has involved some digital element, and probably will do for a while, as there is so much I have yet to explore.
How did you become involved with the Digital Maker Collective? What is your favourite thing you have been involved in with that group?
I became involved in the Digital Maker Collective after a friend suggested I join. It has been very useful as a way of meeting like-minded people, and for discovering new technologies. The opportunities to show work and processes to the public, at events like MozFest, have also been valuable. I hope at some point UAL can establish a workshop dedicated to digital technology at Chelsea, as the Collective has shown there is a lot of interest in digital art, but at the moment there aren’t enough resources available to those wanting to learn.
What are you working on at the moment?
I have just finished creating an interactive art work for the third year “Translation” show at Chelsea (which has probably ended by the time you read this). It involved slug like creatures which people could talk to using a keyboard. They would respond on screens based on what they had learned from talking to previous people. I left all of the electronics open for people to see, while at the same time making the thinking process of the slugs difficult to ascertain.
What do you have planned for Tate Exchange?
As part of the Physical Computing camp, I will be demonstrating how coding and electronics can be used in art. My own project is a collaboration with Rosie Munro-Kerr, an alumna from Wimbledon College of Arts. She will be creating object-avoiding robots which can detect objects within the room. Using a web-app called Aether that we are developing, she will send the positional data of objects in real-time to a program I am writing.
This program is a 3D virtual world which people can explore (in the same manner as a video game). Plants will grow in this world that correspond spatially to the objects in the physical world. For me this is an exploration of how a machine might see the world, and what we might gain from considering alternative forms of intelligence. I’m also interested in data as a mutable object with a dynamic life. Often people see data as an objective, unbiased thing, but the way you use it can drastically change its meaning.