2020 | interactive wearable

LCDs, plastic, images from facial database

Identity Mask

Identity Mask is a wearable, interactive sculpture that hides its wearer behind a digital facial composite. In a process inspired by character creation menus in role-playing games and profile generation on social networking platforms, its wearer controls the mask’s appearance by adjusting sliders assigned to specific physical attributes on a detachable touchscreen interface. LCDs layered over the wearer’s face load and display corresponding images of features isolated from images in facial recognition database. In its use of superficial traits as the heart of a calculated identity, Identity Mask is a reflection of the essentialism and statistical fallacies vital to the profitability of social networks, strategically exploited by social malefactors, and epistemologically corrosive for everyone else.

2019 | installation

TVs, transmitters, live & recorded video, computers, plastic, MDF, steel

You Are Here

You Are Here presents viewers with a vision of the universe in which they are its only inhabitants, offering a shrine-like space to contemplate solitude as a philosophical quantum state. Viewers enter the installation alone, and are faced with video surveillance of their location from five increasingly distant perspectives. One is a live feed captured by a camera inside the installation, while the other four are pre-recorded loops altered to remove any signs of human activity. Viewers can only empirically assess the reality of the live feed; while they remain isolated in the installation, they philosophically exist in both the shared universe they perceived before entering and the empty one shown on the screens.

2019 | interactive wearable

LCDs, aluminum, plastic, Facebook advertising data

A Mask for Late-Stage Capitalism

A Mask for Late-Stage Capitalism confronts essentialism and fallacies at the root of algorithmic advertising, using categories of personal information monetized by Facebook’s targeted ad services to literally mask its wearer’s identity. This data is arrayed over the face on 12 LCD screens, each dedicated to a category of targetable personal information from the benign (age, primary language) to intrusive (algorithmically-inferred “major life events”) to nakedly problematic (US political affiliation, GPS coordinates). The wearer can cycle through multiple individuals’ datasets by turning a knob over the left ear, adopting a new, algorithmically-relevant persona with the (literally) superficial presentation of (figuratively) superficial data.

2019 | robotic sculpture

steel, plastic, rubber, fabric, electronics

Ball Drop

Ball Drop is a simple robot built to express social anxiety through its abstracted and sanitized emulation of physiological responses to stressful stimuli - in this case, sudden noises. A microphone wired to an Arduino micro-controller continually monitors sound levels, which responds to sudden spikes in volume by retracting the ball towards the ceiling. It remains withdrawn for a brief period, which increases recursively if the sculpture is triggered again before re-extending; particularly loud and disruptive environments may “frighten” the robot into retracting for prolonged periods before determining it is “safe” to drop again. Biomorphic aspects of the design belie the simplicity of the underlying program, conveying a sense of agency that renders its behaviors eerily organic.

2019 | sculpture

modified drone, copper, aluminum, wood, plastic

Station

Station consists of a modified drone trapped in a destructive Sisyphean cycle. The drone is impaled by a copper pipe extending from an electrified metal platform. Its battery and control circuits are replaced with hanging, weighted wires, which power the drone by forming a circuit between the pipe passing through it and the platform below. Whenever the drone rises higher than these wires’ length it breaks the circuit, causing it to crash back to the ground; “crashing” brings the wires back in contact with the platform, restarting a cycle that ends only after the drone is crippled by the violence of its own movement.

2018 | interactive installation

LCD, computer, speaker, found audio & video, wood, glass

The Voices He Hears

The Voices He Hears satirizes the phenomenon of epistemic closure through its examplar, Donald Trump. Its osentatious gold frame contains a small screen upon which the former President fidgets behind a podium labeled “Tell Me”, mounted above a brass plaque commemorating the “Most Presidential all-time Greatest Listening Tour.” A microphone extends from below the frame, soliciting input from viewers, but whenever a viewer speaks into it they are loudly interrupted by audio of conservative media stars and politicians praising the President, which he responds to approvingly. This frustrating interaction emphasizes the absurdities and delusions reinforced by the closed loop of conservative media, as well as the danger of granting power to, in the words of former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, “a fucking idiot.”

2018 | animation

5:00 min (loop)

Millennial Mandala

Millennial Mandala combines sprite graphics extracted from classic videogames with clips from YouTube videos uploaded by popular streamers, creating an ersatz mandala for the information age. Mandalas are devotional objects in Hindu, Buddhist, Jain and Shinto traditions that present sacred symbols and figures in hierarchical geometric configurations, often used to focus meditation and induce spiritual trances. This format seemed ideal to communicate the koan-like paradox intrinsic to streaming as a form of entertainment: solitary observation of a solitary player, conducted from a distance and largely in silence.

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Jake Wright is a new media artist and designer based in Brooklyn, NY. His work relates to the influence of the Information Age on human thought processes, especially memory and self-perception. He received his MFA in Interactive Arts from Pratt Institute in 2020, and his BFA from SCAD in 2008. Contact via email at jwright.prof@gmail.com, or use the links to the right.below.