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»Essay concerning human understanding«
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© http://www.ekac.org/plant.GIF

Keywords

  • aesthetics
    • acoustic
    • affective
    • anamorphic
    • animated
    • anthropomorph
    • assembled
    • automated
    • autopoietic
    • collaborative
    • contextual
    • cybernetic
    • disgusting
    • documenting
    • duplicated
    • dynamic system
    • ephemeral
    • experimental
    • found object
    • generative
    • gustatory
    • hypermediacy
    • illusionary
    • immaterial
    • immersive
    • installation-based
    • interactive
    • intermedial
    • intervention
    • mobile
    • modular
    • multi-user
    • multiple
    • narrative
    • navigable
    • networked
    • olfactory
    • panoramatic
    • performative
    • polysensory
    • processual
    • projected
    • real-time
    • remediated
    • remixed
    • sculptural
    • site-specific
    • sonification
    • sublime
    • tactile
    • telematic
    • three-dimensional
    • time-based
    • uncanny
    • virtual
    • visual
  • genre
    • Bio Art
      • Genetic Art
      • Transgenic Art
    • Database Art
    • Digital Activism
    • Digital Animation
    • Digital Community (Social Network)
    • Digital Graphics
    • Game Art
    • Glitch Art
    • Hybrid Art
    • installation
      • interactive installation
      • performative installation
      • sound installation
      • Virtual Reality
        • Augmented Reality
        • Mixed Reality
    • Nano Art
    • Net Art
    • Performance
      • Computer performance
      • Happening
      • multimedia performance
      • sound performance
      • video performance
    • robotics
    • Telematic Art
  • subject
    • ART AND SCIENCE
      • algorithm
      • anthropology
      • archaeology
      • artificial intelligence
      • astronomy
      • biology
      • botany
      • cartography
      • code
      • combinatorics
      • cyberspace
      • database
      • documentation
      • evidence
      • experiment
      • geography
      • geometry
      • history of science
      • humanities
      • library
      • light
      • machine
      • mathematic
      • medicine
      • microscopy
      • nanotechnology
      • neuroscience
      • philosophy
      • physics
      • psychology
      • Representation of knowledge
      • research
      • science
      • scientific image
      • space
      • statistics
      • stereoscope
    • ARTS AND VISUAL CULTURE
      • allegory
      • animation
      • architecture
      • art history
      • art market
      • beauty
      • cinema
      • Concept Art
      • conservation
      • dance
      • expanded cinema
      • fashion
      • gaze
      • grid
      • illusion
      • literature
      • mask
      • materiality
      • mirror
      • model
      • museum
      • music
      • nude
      • panopticon
      • panorama
      • personification
      • perspective
      • poetry
      • projection
      • representativeness
      • shadow
      • sketch
      • spectator
      • symbolism
      • theatre
      • Theory
        • complexity
        • media theory
        • modernism
        • postmodernism
        • poststructuralism
        • semiotics
        • simulacrum
      • virtuality
      • visual culture
    • BODY AND HUMAN
      • agency
      • anatomy
      • body
      • breathing
      • cybersex
      • cyborg
      • death
      • disease
      • dream
      • embodiment
      • empathy
      • expression
      • eye
      • facial expression
      • fantasy
      • feeling
        • affect
        • emotion
      • gender
      • genetics
      • gesture
      • hand
      • human
      • identity
      • intimacy
      • movement
      • pain
      • perception
      • performativity
      • physiognomy
      • posthuman
      • self awareness
      • senses
      • sexuality
      • skin
      • speech
      • surgery
    • HISTORY AND MEMORY
      • ancestor
      • antiquity
      • archive
      • artifacts
      • collective memory
      • colonialism
      • cultural heritage
      • historical site
      • historism
      • history
      • meme
      • memorial
      • modern era
      • nostalgia
      • postcolonialism
      • preservation
      • romanticism
      • teleology
      • tradition
    • MEDIA AND COMMUNICATION
      • access
      • advertising
      • Big Data
      • broadcast
      • commerce
      • communication
      • electronic media
      • error message
      • film
      • global village
      • hypertext
      • information
      • intermediality
      • internet
      • language
      • media archaeology
      • open source
      • print media
      • radio
      • search engine
      • social media
      • telecommunication
      • telephone
      • television
      • video surveillance
      • visualisation
      • writing
    • NATURE AND ENVIRONMENT
      • agriculture
      • animal
      • anthropocentrism
      • atmosphere
      • catastrophe
      • DNA
      • earth
      • ecosystem
      • energy
      • environment
      • evolution
      • four elements
      • geology
      • global warming
      • globe
      • landscape
      • magnetism
      • nature
      • ocean
      • outer space
      • physical law
      • plant
      • pollution
      • sustainability
      • vegetation
      • water
      • weather
    • POWER AND POLITICS
      • authority
      • banking
      • censorship
      • conspiracy
      • democracy
      • discrimination
      • economy
      • equality
      • geopolitics
      • governance
      • heroism
      • human rights
      • imperialism
      • institution
      • law
      • manipulation
      • market
      • military
      • nationalism
      • patriarchy
      • politics
      • sovereignty
      • surveillance
      • terrorism
      • violence
      • warfare
    • RELIGION AND MYTHOLOGY
      • afterlife
      • Alchemy
      • bible
      • church
      • creation
      • crucifixion
      • esoterism
      • exodus
      • heretic
      • legend
      • mysticism
      • myth
      • mythological creature
      • mythology
      • paradise
      • religion
        • buddhism
        • christianity
        • islam
        • judaism
      • ritual
      • sacrifice
      • Saint
      • sin
      • spirituality
      • vision
      • worship
    • SOCIETY AND CULTURE
      • activism
      • capitalism
      • civilisation
      • community
      • consumption
      • counterculture
      • digital identity
      • diversity
      • ethnicity
      • feminism
      • globalization
      • individuality
      • information society
      • interculturalism
      • mass
      • mass culture
        • entertainment
        • parody
        • phantasmagoria
        • popular culture
        • spectacle
      • migration
      • minority
      • morality
      • native
      • otherness
      • participation
      • poverty
      • privacy
      • racism
      • territory
      • unemployment
      • urban space
      • voyeurism
      • wealth
      • working class
    • TECHNOLOGY AND INNOVATION
      • artificial life
      • cybernetics
      • development
      • digitization
      • electricity
      • emulation
      • engineering
      • history of technology
      • innovation
      • intelligent environment
      • invention
      • mechanics
      • military technology
      • mobility
      • nonhuman communication
      • optics
      • product design
      • production
      • robot
      • simulation
      • supercomputing
      • technophobia
      • telematics
      • telepresence
  • Technology
    • Display
      • Electronic displays
        • BOOM (Binocular Omni-Orientation Monitor)
        • CAVE (Computered Augmented Virtual Environment)
        • computer monitor
        • Electromechanical Display Device
        • Electronic Paper
        • flashlight
        • Head-up Display
        • Headphones
        • HMD (Head-mounted Display)
        • holography
        • laser
        • light-emitting diode
        • plasma
        • printer
        • projection screen
        • projector
        • robotic
        • speakers
        • VFD (Vacuum Florescent Display)
        • VRD (Virtual Retinal Display)
      • Non-electronic displays
        • body
        • Book
        • easel painting
        • globe
        • house wall
        • inflatable structure
        • mirror
        • paper
        • sculpture
        • shutter glasses
        • sofa
        • Somatosensory System / Tactile Feedback Technology
        • table
    • Hardware
      • camera
      • computer mouse
      • data glove
      • Joystick
      • MAC
      • Mobile Device
      • multi touchscreen
      • plotter
      • scanner
      • touchscreen
      • Video
      • Virtual Workbench
      • Virtuscope
      • webcam
    • interface
      • Automatic Identification and Data Capture (AIDC)
      • biometrics
      • Body sensor
        • Body Tracking
        • brainwave sensor
        • breathing sensor
        • Breathing-Balance-Interface-Vest
        • Endoscope
        • eye scanner
        • facial recognition system
        • Motion Capture
        • positiontracker
        • retina scanner
        • Speech Recognition
        • step sensor
      • camera recording
      • electromagnetism
      • interactive media
        • Auditory User Interface (AUI)
        • Augmented Reality Interfaces
        • breath based communication
        • Internet of Things (IoT)
        • Ludic Interface
        • MR-based (Mixed Reality) Interaction
        • Multi-Modal Interaction
        • tactile user interfaces
        • Tangible Acoustic Interface
        • Tangible User Interface (TUI)
        • Voice User interface
      • Non-electronic interface
        • bike
        • doll
        • furniture
        • plant
      • Soundgenerating device
        • Audiotape
        • keyboard
        • microphone
        • musical instrument
        • RFID (Radio-frequency Identification)
        • Speech Recognition
        • syntheziser
        • telephone
        • Theremin
        • turntable
        • voice analysis
        • Voice User Interface (VUI)
      • virtual balance
    • Software
      • C++
      • CGI/Perl
      • CSS
      • Global Positioning System (GPS)
      • ISDN
      • Java
      • Linux
      • Optical Character Recognition (OCR)
      • periscope
      • PHP
      • RFID (Radio-frequency Identification)
      • robotic interfaces
      • SGI Onyx2
      • softimage
      • software interface
      • Video
      • VRML
      • Wireless Sensor Network (WSN)
      • XML
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Information
Cite
X
Archive of Digital Art (ADA). “Eduardo Kac - »Essay concerning human understanding«”. https://www.digitalartarchive.at/database/general/work/essay-concerning-human-understanding.html (retrieved 2010-23-10). @online{ADAartistprofile, author = {Archive of Digital Art (ADA)}, title = {Eduardo Kac - »Essay concerning human understanding«}, url = {https://www.digitalartarchive.at/database/general/work/essay-concerning-human-understanding.html}, urldate = {retrieved 2010-23-10}
Technology
Installation Requirements / Space
"Essay Concerning Human Understanding" was a live, bi-directional, interactive, telematic, interspecies sonic installation I created with Ikuo Nakamura between Lexington (Kentucky), and New York. In this work, a canary dialogues over a regular phone line with a plant (Philodendron) 600 miles away. The piece was exhibited in the context of my show Dialogues, realized in 1994 simultaneously on the Internet and in museums and galleries. "Essay Concerning Human Understanding" was presented publicly from October 21 to November 11, 1994, simultaneously at the Center for Contemporary Art, University of Kentucky, Lexington, and the Science Hall, in New York.
Descriptions & Essays
Placed in the middle of the Center for Contemporary Art, the yellow canary was given a very large and comfortable cylindrical white cage, on top of which circuit-boards, a speaker, and a microphone were located. A clear Plexiglas disc separated the canary from this equipment, which was wired to the phone system. In New York, an electrode was placed on the plant's leaf to sense its response to the singing of the bird. The microvoltage fluctuation of the plant was monitored through a Macintosh running a software called Interactive Brain-Wave Analyzer (IBVA). Ironically, a program designed to detect human mental activity was employed to inspect the vital activity of an organism generally understood as devoid of consciousness. The information coming from the plant was fed into another Macintosh running MAX, which controlled a MIDI sequencer. The electronic sounds themselves were pre-recorded, but the order and the duration were determined in real time by the plant's response to the singing of the bird. When this work was shown publicly, the bird and the plant interacted for several hours daily. Humans interacted with the bird and the plant as well. Just by standing next to the plant and the bird, humans immediately altered their behavior. When in close proximity, the interaction was further enhanced by the constantly changing behavior of the bird and the plant, which responded by singing more (bird), activating more sounds (plant), or by remaining quiet. By enabling an isolated and caged animal to have a telematic conversation with a member of another species, this installation dramatized the role of communication and telecommunications in human lives. The inter-species communicative experience observed in the gallery reflects our own longing for interaction, our desire to reach out and stay in touch. This interactive installation is as much about creating art for non-humans as it is about human isolation and loneliness, and about the very possibility of communication. As this piece projects the complexities of electronically mediated human communication over non-human organisms, it surprisingly reveals aspects of our own communicative experience. This interaction is as dynamic and unpredictable as a human dialogue. Eduardo Kac
Literature
Kac, Eduardo. »Live from Mars.« Leonardo 31, no. 1 (1998): 1-2.
Kac, Eduardo. »Origin and Development of Robotic Art.« Art Journal 56, no. 3 (1997): 60-67.
Kac, Eduardo. »Essay Concerning Human Understanding.« Leonardo Electronic Almanac 3, no. 8 (August 1995).
Kac, Eduardo. »Holopoetry, Hypertext, Hyperpoetry.« In Proceedings of the Holographic Imaging Conference, edited by SPIE 2043, . Bellingham, WA: Holographic Imaging and Materials (Proc. SPIE 2043), Tung H. Jeong, Editor (Bellingham, WA: SPIE,, 1993.
Exhibitions & Events