release for Sound Symposium 1994, St. John's, Canada
INTERACTIVE SYSTEMS OF DON RITTER
by Bruce Johnson
McLuhan spoke of information media as extensions of the human nervous
system, while Norbert Weiner created the science of cybernetics, envisioning
systems where humans and machines merged to create a new hybrid. In modern
life both of these visions can be seen as commonplace; our understanding
and cataloguing of the world around us is inseparably linked to our familiarity
with and use of technology.
To enter an installation
by artist Don Ritter is to become an active participant in an technological
emulation of a tangible and somewhat familiar experience. Ritter's work
INTERSECTION creates a space which pivots the viewer between sensations
of empathy and tension, re-enacting an environment that is a metaphor
for both modern life and its accompanying anxieties.
INTERSECTION is an
interactive sound simulation of vehicles driving along four lines of traffic.
Occupying a darkened space, the installation is triggered and completed
by the "intrusion" and interaction of the human participant. Through use
of infra-red sensors and feedback technologies, the movement and placement
of the listener within the space alters the sound (and therefore the presumed
motion and bearing) of the oncoming car. A person entering the installation
simultaneously transforms and triggers it, by framing themself within
the trajectory of oncoming vehicle(s).
places the audience in the active position of accomplice, making them
as much a part of the medium as the technological supports that make it
work. Entering and interacting with the art is a cybernetic act; a melting
of the closed system of technology and fixed programming, with the seemingly
random response of the human participant. The work will resonate with
anyone who had experienced the sense of chance, risk and loss of control
that goes hand-in-hand with the event embodied in this place.
Ritter's work accompanies
contemporary artists ranging from American artist Bill Viola to Nova Scotia
artist Richard Robertson. Like him, these artists work to place the viewer
as an integral component, in concert with a technological component, to
make a unified statement about modern life.