Interview: Channel TWo
Tell us a little bit about yourself as an artist/designer. What is your practice like; how do you work?
Channel TWo (CH2) is a studio construct named for both ideas of “transmission” and an acronym of the people involved Trowbridge, Westbrook, and their son Oskar. Channel TWo (CH2) is loosely aligned with the concept of over-identification, Slavoj Žižek’s description of a tactic intended to reveal the hidden nature of dominant ideologies -- not by pointing to them but by becoming extreme forms of them. CH2, is focused on mixed up reality, media production, design, development, and distribution… authorized formats and unauthorized ideas, systems of control and radical togetherness. Trowbridge and Westbrook have been collaborating since 1990 and formally organized as CH2 in 2009. Together they intentionally collapse hierarchies and authorship, while blurring the boundaries between events, behaviors, and production.
CH2’s practice involves all aspects of research and production including conceptual development, aesthetics, visual/sound design, technology development, and coding. CH2 is interested in luck, levels, and trespassing through the contexts of landscape, interactivity, and augmented reality. Projects intersect playful interface with critical undercurrents. CH2 uses media, game platforms, communication design ephemera, and mobile apps to reveal social complexity, contradictions, cognitive dissonance, and coping mechanisms.
Trowbridge Bio: Adam Trowbridge (born 1972, San Diego, CA) is currently an Assistant Professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He received an MFA in Electronic Visualization from the University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL (2008).
Westbrook Bio: Jessica Westbrook (born 1974, Pittsburgh, PA) is currently an Assistant Professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She received an MFA in Photography from Temple University, Tyler School of Art, Philadelphia, PA (1998).
CH2 has received a number of new media awards including a Rhizome Commission (2012), a Turbulence Commission (2011), and a Terminal Net Art Commission (2009).
Please describe your work on FIND EACH OTHER. Begin There. from your point of view.
FIND EACH OTHER. Begin There. (2012) is a two-channel, networked, interactive landscape. Conceptually the work integrates a bucolic representation of farmlands, the promises of sustainable energy, time and space for wandering/leisure and an underlying sense that things are not what they seem. FIND EACH OTHER. Begin There. is social. Using wireless game controllers players can run through the virtual landscape in search of each other, or they can stay put and wait. Players must negotiate, communicate, and collaborate with each other in real space/time in order to orient themselves, and find each other in the game space. When players find each other, the game generates a low level rumble and a quick flash, flooding the space and players in green light. FIND EACH OTHER. Begin There. is an aesthetic, sensory, and critical experience intersecting the complexities of conflict and space, psychology of will, collaboration/exchange, and the individual’s relationship to power and control. The title Find Each Other Begin There. was borrowed from a chapter in The Coming Insurrection, The Invisible Committee (2008).
Have you had any memorable responses to this piece? And if yes, please describe.
Staff for the Contemporary Art Museum (CAM), Raleigh 2012 exhibition, Born Digital, reported that the work was a noticeable favorite amongst children and young adults. FIND EACH OTHER. Begin There. was drawing crowds and repeat museum visits throughout the duration of the show. They also reported that, gallery attendants and docents were keeping tallies on the number of times guests found each other. This additional level of access/engagement/play means the work took on more of a life than we had anticipated. This was a nice surprise.
Please name three artists you are influenced by and why.
CH2 is influenced by cultural landscapes and the everyday. Our inventory of references includes: Teletubbies, Guy Debord, Pokémon, Fred Rogers, Björk, Zurich Dada, Sesame Street, Ed Ruscha, and mass media graphic communications, photography, television, internets, video games.
What are you currently working on?
Current CH2 projects include: PolyCopRiotNode_ an AR (augmented reality) intervention app of database error induced incidents and home invasions, UnattendedVaporware another AR app, this one revealing speculation on an individual global scale, and further development of “Episodes” a multi-level playable virtual landfill installation with an accompanying scratch-off lottery card system.
What is your dream project?
Code that takes on a life of its own, anonymous, invisible, and hopeful.
What is one of your favorite 4D artworks, or pieces of design, and why?
For us everything is related/connected and within range of research-based art/design practice: language, chemistry, physics, math, music, anthropology, time. I think we are drawn to context, systems, interaction, and landscapes - geological, built, social, and virtual. For many years we have been visiting solid waste landfills. Standing on top of a beautiful mountain of trash gives you a sense of what we are able to accomplish together. We also appreciate activities involving highway systems, caves, cooking, and dogs.