Stand and Create

Upon reading Ryan’s Dysfunctionality in Digital Art article, I began to critically examine each of his four types of dysfunctionality, particularly at what he calls “Ludic” functionality, namely asking, “what can I do with this technology, other than what it was meant for?”
Then I came across this piece, by Bruno Nadeau and Jason Lewis:
Still Standing

This piece, as well as its similar referencing artwork, Text Rain, by Camille Utterback, seemed to me a prime example as this use of dysfunctionality in the digital realm. In the Still Standing piece we see that the person viewing it interacts with a seemingly random group of letters on a screen. These random letters, bumbling along the floor, then move accordingly as your body physically moves across the projector area in a way that replicates the letters actually running away from the person. Contrary to other interactive motion technology uses, the only way to interact properly for with this piece to make sense is to stand still, when the projector senses your silhouette and forms the letters to make words in that exact shape so you can see your own “shadow,” in a way, as well as the words forming a poem, and not only that but one about the increasing pace of our society and the necessity to keep up. Thus, through the use of dysfunctionality the artwork is displaying its message both literally as the letters toss to and fro on the screen and mentally as we attempt to relate to the piece and see how it functions. The creators Lewis and Nadeau have in effect turned the use of motion-sensing and turned it on its head, because in order to actually understand what the piece is actually saying, you have to be motionless.┬áThe message is portrayed through a seemingly random process and its solution is counter-intuitive to the user interacting with it. Otherwise upon initial interaction the piece may just seem like another technological exhibit in a science museum. Similarly (and originally), Utterback’s Text Rain plays with the use of motion-sensing technology by once-more throwing seemingly random text and having them fall from top to bottom, like rain drops. As they approach the user’s shadow, they land and also slowly begin to form words if enough of a shadow or interaction of the camera is captured. Thus the dysfunctionality actually portrays a message, in this case another poem:
“I like talking with you,
simply that: conversing,
a turning-with or -around,
as in your turning around
to face me suddenly…
At your turning, each part
of my body turns to verb.
We are the opposite
of tongue-tied, if there
were such an antonym;
We are synonyms
for limbs’ loosening
of syntax,
and yet turn to nothing:
It’s just talk.