Fish come ashore – again

Technovelgy reports that a digital artist has created a robot fishbowl that allows fish to move on land.

Seth Weiners Terranaut project trains a video camera on fish swimming in a goldfish bowl (which is mounted on a sort of trolley). The trolley then moves in the direction in which the fish swim.

Technovelgy says “Very cool project. …. giving fish the kind of on-land experience that pointed the way for all of us air-breathers and land-walkers that came later…”

There is (or was) an article on Wikipedia and a Youtube video, which shows that the device moves very slowly indeed, and as the fish (inside a goldfish bowl) is constrained to swim in circles, so does the device. In other words, the fish is unaware that it is on land, and is simply reproducing (inadvertently and unconsciously) its underwater behaviour. Fish have very small brains.

Yes, but IS IT ART?

It occurred to me this morning that one of the paradigm shifts which digital art has made is that it partly frees the artist from technique. I spent yesterday working hard on a still liffe for my BTEC course. For the first time I felt Id really expressed something of myself in the picture: previously its just been a struggle to get some sort of likeness. In other words, to get the techniques right. This time
(a) we chose our own subjects (ie we had our own idea)
(b) I felt sufficiecntly confident in my techniques to do a fairly good image – in that it looked roughly like how I wanted it to look.

But with digital art, the techniques matter less. You can get someone else to do the technical stuff for you; or its more scientific than artwork, doesnt require a steady hand, eye for colour, etc.

What it does do, as a result, is focus much more intensely on the idea. In the past, when we said thats a good painting, we often meant just thats a good technical representation. (it looks like something.) Now everyone can take a digital pic, or use software in some clever way, the question has to be what is it about? what is it saying? whats the idea?

Compared to Shaws Golden Calf, my current touchstone, Terranaut seems at best an only- half- thought- out idea.

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