One and Three Laptops

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One and Three Laptops

Used: Garry's Mod, Fraps, Photoshop Elements 3.0, Sony Vegas 7.0, 

My project is a New Media update of Joseph Kosuth's "One and Three Chairs" (below).

 The Original Work:

    Kosuth's "One and Three Chairs" is a work of conceptual art completed in 1965. The piece consists of three representations of a chair (the physical chair, a photograph of that chair, and the dictionary definition of a chair) that progress from the material to the immaterial. Through its three mediums, the work calls attention to the relationship between object, sign / representation, and language. With the real chair, we have a 3D chair that we can see and touch. The photograph forces us to view the chair in 2 dimensions but still gives us an image. Finally, the definition forces us to construct a picture of a chair entirely in our minds.     

The Update:

    In developing a New Media update of "One and Three Chairs" I decided to use a laptop as my object for several reasons. First of all, today's computers serve as a gateway to a huge variety of media and representations of reality including digital photographs, videos, computer graphics (i.e. computer games), wikis, etc. Furthermore, in addition to displaying various medias, computers are the New Media artists' tool of production. Therefore, I felt that Kosuth's exploration of the different degrees of representation fit thematically with the computer culture of our society. True, Kosuth did not use a television (the dominant medium of his time) in his work, he used a chair. Nevertheless, his piece still comments on the different ways that we can experience the world around us. For me, the chair itself is unimportant. The piece would have the same effect if it used a TV or a toaster. I think the most important aspect of the piece is the progression from real, to 2D pictorial representation, to language (concept). Also, since my New Media update would need to be shown on a screen, I decided to make the laptop itself a part of the work. This way, both representations of the real laptop would be confined to the monitor of the laptop.
    In "One and Three Laptops" I tried to update each of Kosuth's representations into the present day.

       "One and Three Chairs" (1965) ------->"One and Three Laptops" (2008) 

                                    Real chair ---------> real laptop
                            Photo of a chair --------->  still image of a game art depiction of a laptop
        Dictionary definition of a chair --------> wiktionary definition of a laptop

I knew from the start that the physical chair was extremely important to the original piece. Therefore, I would have to use my laptop as part of the update. For the 2D representation of the laptop, I turned to game art.



First, I downloaded a 3D laptop model that looked similar to my laptop. Ideally the game laptop should be exactly the same as the physical laptop, but I did not have the time or the skills to create an exact representation. However, for an experienced modeller and skinner (someone who textures images to 3D models), this job would be extremely easy. If the piece was to be exhibited, I would probably hire a modeller to create an exact replica.  After I downloaded the 3D model of the laptop, I imported it into the game Garry's Mod (based on the Half-Life 2 engine), positioned it on a gray table against a white wall, and then took a screenshot. I now had an image of a game art representation of a real laptop.

Next, I had to update Kosuth's enlarged dictionary definition into the present day.

I thought about how interactivity and open source play a pivotal role in how we create and receive knowledge on the internet and this led me to wikis, which led me to, an open source wiki dictionary. I took a screenshot of the wiktionary definition of a laptop and replaced the laptop image on the page with an image of my game art laptop. In my Sony Vegas video editor, I inserted this wiktionary definition onto the monitor of the game art laptop, but it didn't all fit! The solution was to emulate a web browser by creating a scrolling animation that moved down the wiki page and then reset. In an exhibition, the animation would continue to loop indefinitely.

 Displaying the Update

 My laptop will be placed on a gray table against a white wall. A video file (.wmv) of the game laptop and scrolling wiktionary page will play full screen (1280 x 800), without any playback controls or extraneous material interfering.

Video That Will Play On The Laptop

DEMO: I set up the laptop and used my camcorder to film it playing the video. Watch here (the file is a .wmv).

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