16 March 2007

FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology) is delighted to present, the first major UK exhibition of work by the internationally renowned artist, David Rokeby. This retrospective of his work includes the pioneering sound installation, Very Nervous System (1986 - 2004), experimentation with sound and language in n-Cha(n)t (2001), The Giver of Names (1990 - ongoing) and explorations into CCTV and surveillance in Seen (2002) and Taken (2002).

Born in Ontario, Canada, in 1960, David Rokeby has received acclaim in both arts and technical fields for his new media art-works. He won the BAFTA for interactive art in 2000 for his digital surveillance piece Watched and Measured (2000); another work Guardian Angel (2001) won the award for Best Installation at Images Festival in 2001. Very Nervous System (1986 - 2004), premiered at the Venice Biennale in 1986, won the first Petro-Canada Award for Media Arts (1988) and is permanently installed in several museums around the world. Rokeby has twice been honoured with Austria's Prix Ars Electronica Award of Distinction (1991 and 1997) (and also received Ars Electronica's Golden Nica in 2000).

Rokeby uses technology to allow the artistic representation of the complex mechanism by which the human brain processes and understands the chaotic flow of colours, sounds and shapes. By comparing that with the process of the machine, the visitor can glimpse the social and cultural elements that shape human perception. For example, in Very Nervous System (1986 - 1990). Rokeby uses video cameras, computers and synthesizers to create an interactive space where body movement is transformed into music. The technology he developed for this work is now widely used by composers, choreographers, musicians and artists. It is used in music therapy applications and is also being tested as an activity enabler in the treatment for Parkinson's Disease.

Other works examine the differences between human and artificial intelligence. The Giver of Names (1990 - ongoing) emphasises the difference in perception by the human compared with the machine. n-Cha(n)t (2001) uses a language database and a series of suspended computers to allow the machines to talk to each-other. If left alone they chant in unison in a new English dialect they've created.