By Dorothy Santos

In the brisk wind of the San Francisco coastline, with grains of sand permeating the air near the freeway, visitors could be spotted heading into the opening exhibition of San Francisco Recology’s former artists in residence. The majority of these attendees were most intrigued by the works of new-media artist Scott Kildall.

Kildall’s residency at the organization yielded a body of work involving a prospector in the year 2049, one who is scavenging, reinvigorating, and resurrecting discarded materials at the dump. From a figurative latex mask to the circuitry of bulky electronics that simulate transmissions from the future, his work illustrates a future founded on re-purposing the present. These unusual materials in particular were used to create his sculptural works “The Sniffer” and “The Universal Mailbox,” which were accompanied by large wooden blueprints explaining the function of each imaginary device. As a part of the installation, Kildall performed as the prospector, scavenging the Recology premises. His consumption of vacuum-packaged food products in his video performance was probably the most jaw-dropping moment of the installation. (Fortunately, he did not get sick.)

“With the 2049 series, I present a series of ‘imaginary devices’—technologies that don’t actually work but are activated by imagination,” Kildall says. So what does he want the viewer to learn from his collection? “By framing the work in this way, I hope that anyone, not just businesspeople, engineers, and programmers, can all contribute to our technology-based future.”

Kildall was recently asked to create a project for the New York Hall of Science based on this particular series. Imagine 2049 entailed a crowd-sourced component, asking people all over the world to submit inventions for inclusion in the time capsule scheduled to be unearthed in—surprise, surprise—the year 2049.

As a new-media artist, it can be daunting to create work stemming from the intersection of art and technology. Such endeavors—aiming to bridge the gaps between virtual and physical, intellectual and instinctual, imaginative and methodical—require innovative thinking, seeing both past and current patterns and behaviors. The convenience of searching for answers so easily, or the idea of algorithms doling out movies and music preferences instead of allowing serendipitous personal discovery, is common. Kildall creates his art within the blurry space between disciplines, producing work that attempts to give imagination back to the viewer. He forces us to re-imagine our relationship with technology in a unique way.

On the future of imagination, Kildall provided a bit of insight: “Technology and imagination have long been intertwined, from the printing press to the magic lantern. It is always the space between the assumed purpose of the technology and the reality of its use that holds the greatest imaginative possibilities. Because of the shift toward personal, customized devices and placement on the body, I anticipate an opening of a personal imagination space, as opposed to a shared one such as stories and cinema.”


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This article was published in:
Idea Issue - Released March 2013
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Issue 11
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