Kathy McTavish – Blue atlas ::: field notes

Kathy McTavish


This project is old-school ::: hyperlink / text-driven. It is reliant on web standards & old UNIX tools that have their origin in the 1970s. The core text itself is intended to dissolve like sand before the reader. The most legible, literal reading of that text is available via a link for screen readers. I am interested in legibility & dissolution / erasure. The text evolved / accumulated / fractured during the COVID-shattered / politically volatile years of 2020-2021. It reflects my struggles to work / concentrate / read / articulate ::: it reflects my sense of undertow & loss. The story is part of a series of broken hero tales (I imagine a bird with a worn suitcase traveling by train). Our hero lands on an empty railway platform and heads to an abandoned grassland research station. Their urgent mission ::: repair, reclaim, rebuild, reweave, restore a prairie meadow sequestration. They pour through old vinyl recordings, collected specimens, data, equations (calculations). [Or these stories are the hallucinogenic visions of a lone passenger pigeon at the Cincinnati Zoo on the last day of August 1914]. I embrace non-proprietary tools in my practice. Here I am using W3C web standards, a couple of open-source javascript libraries for creating PDF documents and animations, and a few very old, UNIX/GNU-rooted, command-line, text processing programs coupled with a
stripped-down, more contemporary node.js coding environment.

This work is composed of hand-built, slow-geared, re-enactments of rusty “machine-learning” tools from the past ::: counts & probabilities … drawing & re-shuffling ::: sifting through mountains of words … The generative PDF, sound & animations are all created by human-readable text/code. The drawings retain their vector origin. This is why the long PDF scrolls load so very quickly. They are low bandwidth when compared to rasterized images & video. The heaviest component of this algorithmic, web-based work is the core text itself as well as the small fragments of sound that are loaded for generative sound weavings created by the browser using the Web Audio API.

About the Author(s):

McTavish is a media composer, cellist and installation artist whose work blends data, text, code, sound and abstract, layered moving images. (m) recent work has focused on creating generative methods for building networked, multichannel video and sound environments. (m) creates cross-sensory, polyphonic landscapes that flow from the digital web into physical spaces.

McTavish’s background in cello performance, mathematics, ecology, music theory and coding inform (m) work as a composer and multimedia artist. (m) works with multi-threaded, dynamical systems and chance-infused, emergent patterns. (m) explores the infinite, fluid, cross-border between.

McTavish has created installations for both traditional gallery spaces and for non-traditional storefronts, abandoned buildings, root cellars, cathedrals, barns, warehouse elevators, alleyways and silos. (m) works with physical structures — textures, pipes, beams, dusty windows. A critical part of (m) installation work is the resonance of a space and its ambient sounds and silences. (m) believes art has the potential to open subliminal, submerged aspects — to foster reflection and transformation.



Cecilia Suhr – The “Other” NarrativeAlan Bigelow – Science For Idiots


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ELO 2022 ConferenceMain Venue and Call for Papers

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Connected EventsELO 2022 Partners' initiatives

Finland – University of Jyväskylä

Japan – Nagoya University

Arab Academic Inst. of Education/Arab Union for Internet Writers

Brazil – Federal University of São Carlos / Santa Catarina

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