Drinking Bird explores the changing perceptions of consumers within an increasingly digitalised world. The work also explores the perceived materiality of digital media that bleeds into an extrapolation of l’art pour l’art and the aestheticisation of modern commodities that ultimately places the value of an object in its use rather than in its production.
The work can be viewed as an Internet enabled painting. It incorporates the interactions of imaginary fluids in a digital simulation overlaid by an atomically correct digital. This can be seen as an expression of these digital objects existing in a very real time and space, while in another sense being an irreal object that only exists as it is perceived. This is further enhanced by the use of a physics engine to create a tangible sense of fluidity, incorporating different viscosities and opacities resulting in the effect of liquids with variable surface tensions.
The title of the work is taken from a toy heat engine that, using the basic principles of thermodynamics, mimics the movements of a bird drinking from a birdbath. This is an expression of the varied applications of technology and scientific discovery and the technologising process which society has been a part of since its inception. This speaks of the use of scientific principles as a source of aesthetic enjoyment and also suggests that society has undergone numerous technological revolutions of which the digital is one.
However, unlike the drinking bird toy, which is an exercise in repetition, this painting is continually changing with almost infinite possibilities. The work encompasses all colour pallets, moods and effects. The screen mimics that of a smart phone and in doing so speaks about the increasing presence of a world, which is intuitively customisable and available at one’s fingers but ultimately chaotic. This is reflected in the work’s abstract appearance that connects it to a semiotic system, which reaches its subject through a transcendental relationship. This is diametrically opposed to the Smartphone, which aims at concrete connections to the intuitable world around oneself.
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