“Evan Roth is an American artist based in Paris whose practice visualizes and archives culture through unintended uses of technologies. Creating prints, sculptures, videos and websites, his work explores the relationship between misuse and empowerment and the effect that philosophies from hacker communities can have when applied to digital and non-digital systems” (evan-roth.com).
His piece No Original Research was the most intriguing to me, since I would have never thought of using a website as a piece of art so explicitly. I do a lot of website building and really like to make mine beautiful, eye-catching and artistic, but he really went all out! I thought it was interesting that the audio content he used was pulled from Wikipedia, making the connection that that was probably the point of the name. The aspect of each piece in the series that was most pleasing and eye-catching for me initially were the animations, but I wanted to look beyond them. Since I noticed that the way he titled each URL corresponded to the item he portrayed in his animation and the background color, I decided to Google what each item was. I never knew there was a shape called a rhombic dodecahedron or a site called the Lotru Mountains in Romainia, or basically about any of the other items in his works aside from the tarsal bones or the thoracic vertebrae. I was able to make two connections. His choice in using the Lotru Mountains relates to his European background, since he currently is based in Paris. But more importantly, this series showcases his exploration of the relationship between misuse and empowerment. Wikipedia is pretty infamous for not providing much accurate information, but Roth’s use of Wikipedia in No Original Research led me to explore the information tied in through the visuals, and ultimately a piece kind of poking fun at Wikipedia led to me acquiring new and accurate knowledge and empowering me to probe further. I wondered why Roth did not use sound on some of the websites, and if there was a relationship between the sounds chosen and the object and the animation. In one case, the colors and animation used in rhombicdodecahedron-on-lightyellow helped me picture a tropical rain forest the way they just worked together, but none of the other ones worked as vividly for me.
I thought the piece Free Speech would be interesting to view given how relevant that topic is today and with all that’s been occurring politically and nationally. I thought it was absolutely ironic and even humorous how the cop tried to shut him down. That added so much to the personal experience I had viewing the piece and to the point of the piece as a whole. With this piece, I can’t help but ask “What is the point of live art installations? Why would you drive around a van being absolutely obnoxious, and how is that considered art?” Free Speech answered all of those questions, because they would not have gotten the same effect from the interaction of the cop with their art had the noise just been piping through a room in a gallery.
And when it comes to Multi Touch Paintings, I will never be able to fathom how something as disgusting as greasy, who-knows-where-they’ve-been fingerprints can look as beautiful as comets shooting across the night sky. As has been the case with many of the artists we’ve explored throughout the semester, I find myself wishing I’d thought of that.
Overall, I enjoyed how Evan Roth has been perhaps the most explicit digital artist I’ve seen this semester. Not explicit as in vulgar or repulsive but more so in the mediums he used. He didn’t just use video or photography as his means for artistic expression, but used fiber optic cables, websites, and phone screens. As I explored his work more, I came to better appreciate his out of the box approach.