Silicon and mixed media.
Beyond Reason, commissioned by the Siebel Center of Computer Science,
at UIUC, turns to a new subject of imitation – the human body.
In Beyond Reason the artist chose as her site a somewhat barren laboratory
in this highly secured building. Room 417, like most of the building’s
labs, allows no access to the public, but invites a full view of the
room’s contents through a glass wall that separates the room
from the hallway. Unlike the other busy labs in the facility, however,
this room contains only untended racks of server computers, blinking
away in the darkness.
Benson chose to add to this public sign of computing power and intelligence
another mute, inaccessible representation - a full-scale mannequin
self-portrait. The artist stands in the lab frozen in mid gesture with
the computers, arguing or persuading on our behalf, an avatar for the “artist
in residence” but also for the passerby. As in previous projects,
Beyond Reason playfully suggests an illusion of life, yet without letting
go of artifice. Perhaps new to this project though, Benson’s
employment of illusion brings the status of the other “live” objects
into question – why do we believe the racks of servers to be
more alive than her immobile avatar? What new life do we hope the artist
will bring to the “uninspired” space of the scientific
lab? These questions and others make Beyond
Reason an exciting extension
of Benson’s past works, as well as a promising turn towards new
transformations of site.
Kevin Hamilton, Coordinator and Curator, Art in the Siebel Center.
Essay by Joseph
squire and Nan Gogin.