David Rokeby Background

David Rokeby is an artist who works in technology and art. He is most famous for his breakout work, Very Nervous System, where he used human motion to create music. Using video cameras, computers, and synthesizers, he created areas where the movements of the body can create not just sound, but also music.

Rokeby’s other works have delved into a juxtaposition of science and art. Some, like Cloud, are a representation of natural processes, and are installations designed to be viewed. Others, like Very Nervous System or Surface Tension are interactive. These installations translate human activity into art in various ways. For example, in Surface Tension, the notes played on a piano change a digital display in a manner similar to a visualizer.

All of Rokeby’s works are installations. Most are interactive, and some, like Watched and Measured, are commentaries on use of surveillance. In the case of Watched and Measured, Rokeby uses cameras to track people’s movements and expressions in real-time and says it’s meant to show the people both looking and being looked at in order to ask the question of whether extensive surveillance is a good thing.

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