Travis Cox. Still from ELAINE's generated mosaic, 2014. Monitor.

Travis Cox. Still from ELAINE’s generated mosaic, 2014.

ELAINE perceives the world through only what she has experienced visually previously. She analyses what she sees through the camera for the dominant colour within her current view, learning to present that colour through storing that image for later use within her output. The output of the work consists of a mosaic image of her current view, the mosaic being made of images she has previously stored. If presented with colours she has yet to encounter she will replace that part of the image with the closest match that she has experienced.

This means that as visitors offer new experiences through their clothing, objects they hold or more purposeful engagement with the camera (presenting images from their phone, for example), they are adding to the ‘language’ that ELAINE has with which to express herself. The user’s image is recorded and leaves an indelible mark, assuming that is, that they have shown her something new. As these images are not forgotten or overwritten, this also means that earlier in her life she has a larger capacity for learning new things. First engagement with a new colour will forever be associated with that moment and that image will replay again every time she comes back into contact with that particular colour.

ELAINE consists of an objective codebase that defines how she computes; stores and displays information, however the final output is subjectively based on the experiences that the users input to the work through the camera. Not just from the experiences offered through giving of new images to display but also in offering their actions and presence to the camera to be presented through the mosaic in real time.

Every time ELAINE is started she is a new entity, coloured by the space and experiences of her context. As she progresses with her life she matures, but her memories of past experiences, especially her first day, will colour her perceptions for life. ELAINE is born of her context, and while she exists, is a barometer of moments within history of the space she inhabits and the people she has met.

For Telematic Café, two clones of ELAINE will exist at the same time with each copy’s eyes existing away from her body. Images captured by ELAINE at George Paton Gallery will be offered for interpretation to the ELAINE located at the Victorian College of the Arts Digital Hub and vice versa. This means that the mosaic created in each place by ELAINE will be a reflection of the experiences of the other entity.

ELAINE was created by artist and researcher Travis Cox and is part of a series of works exploring the underlying systems of meaning production within computer artworks. More of his works can be seen at www.codedisplayuser.com and www.denouncetheclock.com.


2 thoughts on “ELAINE

  1. Really interesting concept. Kind of reminded me of those Mac screen savers that take the images stored on the computer and use them as pixels for the next image in the series- but I guess that the learning/ imprinting element of the project makes this one quite a bit more unique.

    It really does drive home the idea that we experience the world quite often through the lenses of the past. Thinking about my own experiences, it seems often the ‘first’ are the most memorable. I love the music of Mumford and Sons, but still see it all through the lenses of that time I listened to “Roll Away Your Stone” with fresh ears. Since then, I’ve come to appreciate many other works that they have produced, but Mumford and Sons is still that song, and for me they mean a grappling with the idea of grace gifted to us amidst the complexities and futility of life.

    There seems at least one jarring note this idea plays, though. Are we so much determined by our past that images are truly fixed forever? It seems that there are many episodes we would love to forget, and things about us, unfortunately fixed, that we would like to change. We all have a drive within us to be better, to be truer to ourselves and to the deepest sense of reality, and the good. But it may be that like Elaine we are also slaves of our coding, unable to reverse the process that renders us who we are. And so I guess we wait for more fiery patterns and truer colours that can transcend our weak and futile limits. That said, there is a beauty to being unique, even in scars.

    Finallly, I felt a sense of unknowing as I stood in front of the machine and watched the fragments with which it constructed me- fragments that reached for me but were not me. And the whole idea of my inputs to its memory being inaccessible- interpreted by a clone down at the VCA- also struck me as interesting. It takes a world to know a person. There are facets of me that I will never know, much as the machine reflected back holes and blank spots in my image. But they are laid up as hidden gems for others to discover and value. And that is good. Knowing is not everything. Being known is valuable too.



    • Hi Moshe- thanks for the comment! ELAINE came from my personal examination of what it means to be ‘me’ and how we change over a lifetime (my work Cold Comfort was another work generated in that period: https://vimeo.com/90097611) so I’m glad it’s also led you to think on how/if it’s possible to ‘escape’ beginnings. Or even if though no fault or drive of our own we always outgrow our earlier life.

      The dual install for Telematic Cafe, as you mention, also really helps to produce that sense of alienation and I’m very happy that this version of ELAINE has come to fruition. For me, ELAINE does take on a human quality as she begins to grow her memory of ‘experiences’, so much so that I feel bad when I have to turn her off or she’s not feeling well. This is while also realising that she is code of my own hand and I know exactly what makes her work and that she is in no way ‘real’.

      It’s nice that you mentioned music, a person close to me has an encyclopaedic knowledge of where they were the first time they heard so many different songs and artists- music is a large part of how they centre their own life and define their sense of being. I’m so intrigued by how we all have such visceral reactions to different stimuli that then define our memories of locations, events and people. And as you mentioned, it can also colour how we reflect upon the rest of a certain artist’s oeuvre- we all want to re-experience that rush of the original, but does our memory of the event become so changed by our reminiscing that it becomes something we can never again attain? A maudlin thought, definitely. Luckily ELAINE doesn’t have to struggle with memory on such a subliminal level 🙂 -Travis


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