Custom electronics, motor, aluminum, and LED carbon fiber
Brian W. Evans, Emerging Artist
California State University Long Beach
Long Beach, California, USA

Alex Dragulescu, Mike Caloud, Erik Hill, Carl Burton, Joey Hammer, Daniel Tracy, Kristen Kho, Robert Twomey, Chris Head


Project Info

Initially drawn to minimalist work, Evans' practice attempts to resolve reductive form with emergent technologies while testing a societal relationship to small industrial machines.


In my work, the electronic is used to try and understand how we relate to complex organisms, such as a flock of birds, a domesticated pet, or specifically in this case small digital machines. At what point do these small machines gain their own agency...?

Edsger Dijkstra, a pioneer in the field of computer science, wrote in one of his perennial essays that, "the question of whether a computer can think is no more interesting than the question of whether a submarine can swim." I propose that Dijkstra was not arguing for the idea that computers can actually think, because that is a futile argument, but rather is questioning our social tendencies to ascribe totemic traits found in the animal world onto the machines around us. We have all, for example, at one time or another, felt that our computers have had a personal grudge against us.

My work strives to find that point when there is just enough movement, light, or other physical manifestation that its behavior seems recognizable. If the brain is given too little information it will become bored by what it sees - and if given too much, the brain will only see noise and also becomes bored. Because of this subtle balance, there is a small margin where a machine can assume pseudo-naturalistic traits. This transubstantiation is similar to the way a falling leaf, seen out of the corner of your eye, appears like something under its own agency, alive and flying. When we come to find ourselves empathizing with a machine we can begin to have a discussion about just how pervasive the mechanical has become in the age of the iPod, when ubiquitous computing is everyday and even refrigerators have WiFi.