Before computers were digital, they were people who performed calculations by hand on paper worksheets for scientific research. Starting as a cottage industry, this practice continued into the 1950s, even as human computers were replaced by the machines we use today. Human Computers is a long-duration performance where a group of performers calculate by hand over a period of many hours something very easy for the computer to do: decode a PNG image. Inspired by historical examples as well as early-to-mid-20th century offices and the automation of labor, this performance is the physical enacting of a technology that is both pervasive and difficult to understand. This idea of a long-duration, acutely physical interaction with a technological process has become an important tool in my studio practice; as technology becomes increasingly abstracted and self-aware, this project is a poetic inhabiting and physicalizing of its internal workings.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Jeff Thompson is Assistant Professor and Program Director, Visual Art & Technology, Stevens Institute of Technology. Solo shows include: First There Is A Mountain, Then There Is No Mountain, Then There Is (2018) King’s College, University of Cambridge; Cambridge, England; I Touch You And You Touch Me (2017); Harvestworks; New York, New York, USA; White Noise Boutique (2015) Commissioned by Brighton Digital Festival; Brighton, England; Impossible In Another Form (2014) George Mason University Gallery; Fairfax, Virginia, USA; A Very Deep Saxophone And A Very Long Guitar (2013) With Damon Lee, Sheldon Museum of Art; Lincoln, Nebraska, USA; Seam Sorting (2013) LEVEL Gallery, Lawrence Technological University; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Glistening Waves (2011) Harvestworks; New York City, New York, USA; Lamination (2008) Local Project; Long Island City, New York, USA; Wavering Cedar and 100,000 Blades of Grass (2007) Department of Safety; Anacortes, Washington, USA; Recording Exchange (2006), Hogar Collection Gallery; Brooklyn, New York, USA
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