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.

Nicholas O'Brien

Nicholas O'Brien is a new media artist, curator/organizer, and academic living and working in Chicago. Since getting his BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Nicholas work has been included in multiple national and international venues including The Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, The Xth Biennial in Lyon net art project mybiennialisbetterthanyours.com, Lampo, Tank.tv, and the Centro Multimedia in Mexico City. He has also curated many screenings and live audio-visual performances within the Chicago area under many different projects including co-founding an alternative artist-run space called BUSKER which operated between 2005 and 2007. Currently, Nicholas is an adjunct faculty in the Department of Interactive Art and Media at Columbia College teaching media theory. More information about his work can be found at doubleunderscore.net