A few days ago I heard an interview with Julius Popp (G) a German artist who studied "Buchkunst" (literally, the art of bookmaking) and graphic design. He seemed like quite a friendly chap. His work combines dizzying technical proficiency with oblique, poetic social commentary.
Here is a description of Bitfall (2005) from the Saatchi gallery website:
"Using technological wizardry, Julius Popp’s Bitfall reproduces the ‘flood’ of media information in the form of a real waterfall. Comprised of 128 nozzles, Popp’s curtain collects a continuous stream of water droplets. Directing their flow with a complex system of magnetic valves controlled by computer, text and graphics randomly selected from the internet appear in the drizzling liquid, creating a DIYplasma screen. As each message drips into a collection tank, its feeds back into the cycle, creating a metaphor for the impermanence and flux of the perception of ‘reality’"
Another project, micro.spheres, involves robots. Little, ball-shaped ones. They’re described in German here (my translation):
The spherical knee-high robots have only one ability: they roll automatically to the middle of any room in which they are placed. When they are left alone, they produce static, geometric patterns. However, as soon as a "foreign" element enters the room, a wave-formed chain reaction is produced in which the space re-orders itself — a highly poetic image of our environment, which is constantly in the process of change and organization, and of the laws of cause and effect which form its basis.
Perhaps it’s my German genes, but I’ve always had a soft spot for art that somehow ‘works.’ (Although perhaps the Belgian Wim Delvoye’s shit-making machine carries things a bit too far.) Everyone who shares my taste should book a trip to Vienna, where Popp’s currently showing at project space (G).