is an Interactive Designer and Multimedia Artist from Seattle, WA. He explores the boundries of generative art, technology, and immersive experiences. He has a Bachelors of Arts in Interactive Media Design from the University of Washington.
Topology is a multimedia interactive sculpture composed of my 3D printed head, Raspberry Pi's, electrical components, and a base mount. Topology is the culmination of my Spring 2022 Independent Study replacement course for IMD 498. By creating this sculpture I hoped to learn about Python programming, IoT (Internet of Things), Raspberry Pi’s, and art/design. In addition, I was to make this piece while reading along with Tim Ingold’s design philosophy book, Making. In practice, the creative process ended up teaching me way more than just all of the aforementioned topics, and instead taught me a lot about myself as a designer and artist, and about the world as whole.
The name for Topology is multifaceted. Topo is my middle name and how I present myself as an artist (Simon Topo) and is found within the word “topology”. Topology is a field in mathematics, or the study of three dimensional forms and their relations to each other (a donut and the coffee cup are topographically the same, as they both have one hole, for example). So in this context, each face is topographically the same as my own, but elicits radically different emotions from the viewer, and portrays a version of myself that is more tortured and more physically entwined with my fears. Not only that, but Topology, or in my case Topo-ology could be the study of Topo. As this is really a study of myself, about myself, and resulted in me learning an incredible amount about me and my process of making.
The interactive nature of Topology is two fold: the first being the camera eye and the screen on the base mount, the second being the speaker and the audibly responsive AI. The screen displays a live stream of the camera feed and within the camera feed is a face detection algorithm that I have set profiles and names for certain people. Unknown people are displayed as “Lines of Becoming” and myself as “Father”. Lines of Becoming is a reference to Tim Ingold’s Making in which he proposes that we are all a part of a “line of becoming” in the process of making and interacting with our world, so by interacting with the sculpture, you too are a part of the process and life force of the sculpture’s creation. The talking/response component allows you (after having pressed the button) to speak to the head and get a text-to-speech response. The response stems from OpenAI’s GPT 3 and often formulates incoherent or insightful babble. In conjunction you have both a head that can see you and identify you, and one that also can hear you and respond with semi-intelligent thought. Both of these components are commentary on the invasive and black box nature of our technological interactions and how we really never know what they’re (Big Tech) taking from us or how they're manipulating our data for their benefit.