RTD2015 16 R.O.V. Digital Artwork as Narrative Controller
Any type of content formally published in an academic journal, usually following a peer-review process.
As we consume information about the world, we trust certain visual codes implicitly. From the distinctive fonts on road signs to the hard-edged forms of scientific equipment, these aesthetic memes work through association and reinforcement. A constant negotiation takes place: partly through consensus and partly through centralised systems of authority. This is the truth and it looks like this.
These codes and the underlying truth which they purport to convey are mutable, shifting and temporary. As discoveries are made and theories revised and rewritten, the visual tropes associated with them are erased and remade, losing their aura of truth. The copperplate text of Darwin’s journals now has an air of quaintness and naiveté: a feel of the arcane and the alchemical. For us the truth now comes through the sharpness of news footage: the coloured pipework of the Large Hadron Collider, the calm voiceover of a documentary film.
R.O.V. is a narrative controller exploring the epistemology of exploration, discovery and cartography. Encased in a rugged hazard-yellow field box the piece appears to be a controller for a remote control submersible. Twin joysticks, switches and knobs allow the user to explore an underwater landscape, displayed on a monitor embedded in the field box. This environment, rendered in 3D graphics, is based on Kampanakis’ 1891 map of Atlantis: itself an attempt to render credible a myth: a centuries-old string of Chinese whispers emanating from a chance remark in Plato. The piece represents both an attempt to use the aesthetic of an interface as a narrative device and to explore layers of truth, representation and misconception.