Harm Van Den Dorpel recently talked with me over a shared-screen skype session about his semi-generative image navigation system called Dissociations. The work could be described in many ways: feedback platform, assistend-intelligence interface, online studio, anti-tagging archival system. But regardless of hard definition, this ongoing engine fuels a lot of Van Den Dorpel’s online presence, as well as guides the way in which he decides to translate that work into physical galleries. The uniqueness of this project not only rests in Van Den Dorpel’s distinctive visual approach to online imagery, but is also due in part to this system being a type of conceptual launching pad for critiquing the ways in which certain user-generated image curation platforms all too quickly create a kind of same-same-ness (ahem Tubmlr).
In our conversation, we discuss some of the back-end of Van Den Dorpel’s program as well as how the selection process – which again is based on negative association - nurtures the artists’ intuitive studio practice. In doing so, the project becomes a kind of tableau for Van Den Dorpel’s work that is not based upon typical systems of organization like construction material and/or chronology. Instead, as we find in our explorations of both the selection process and the front-end display of the “results” of this software, one looks at the artist’s work in a more nuanced way. As a result, Dissociations becomes more like a game; one in which the feedback and immediacy of the computer can become more measured and distinct when brought offline.