Where are we in relationship to the edges of the systems that surround us?
I am invested in documenting and disentangling the technological systems that deeply shape our lives. Specifically, I am captivated by what provides a sense of comfort and security, or keeps us working and productive, or entertained, all while quietly mediating all of our surroundings and experiences, often in very subtle and insidious ways. Some broad examples of these systems include artificial lighting, the electrical grid, the internet, and Internet of Things devices. I am not only interested in dissecting the history and impacts of these structures, but through my projects I am aiming to make visible the inherently political nature of these systems and how they influence us both privately and collectively.
My process is iterative and driven by research, which can be drawn from a text, a dissection of a smart object, or a visit to a power plant, for example. This research process is continuous and varying and deeply informs what I make and how I make it. Most often I create multi-media installations that incorporate sound or video into sculptural settings. I also regularly make books and prints, or put together free form group classes. Frequently, all of these forms are present in one project, providing multiple layers of experience or entry points into a subject.
We live in a world that is at once increasingly complex and also increasingly abstract. With a phrase, or the push of a button, we can have the answer to any question, or listen to any recorded music, or watch whatever we want. We don't need to care how it gets to us or how decisions are made. Until we do. Until things break down and the system reaches its limitations, its points of failure and brittleness. Then the illusion fades and we see the underlying technologies, messy and incomplete, no longer able to fool us. Carrie Hott's work pushes us to consider that view — a view in which the illusion of intelligence in our devices erodes, and the edges: physical edges, functional edges, and emotional edges, become visible. As the functionality breaks down, the illusion of the room itself degrades, and what initially seemed well-ordered and helpful becomes chaotic and alienating, leading us to wonder whether these technologies were really intended to improve our lives in the first place.
—CHRISTOPHER BROOKS, PHD, PROFESSOR, DEPARTMENTS OF COMPUTER SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING
Most recently my studio practice has been focused on the use (and misuse) of smart devices, which are consumer objects that rely on internet connectivity to provide services and convenience, usually in the home. I arrived at this point after a decade of considering the history of artificial light and the electrical grid in this country, and how the development of these common systems shaped so much of our entrenched behavior and work patterns. The emergence of internet connected (or smart) lights and devices in recent years has completely captivated my thinking. This new technology builds directly on to the subjects that I have researched and made work about for years. Now that the internet is weaving into the technology that we rely on heavily, my thinking and art practice is focused on how these structures, devices, and objects are becoming more complex, entrenched, fragile, and manipulative.
Carrie Hott is an interdisciplinary artist based in Oakland, California. She is invested in documenting and disentangling the technological systems that deeply shape our lives. She has presented her work as part of exhibitions and projects across the country, most recently at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Recology San Francisco, and the Museum of Capitalism in Oakland. She is the recipient of the Artadia Award, a Cultural Humanities grant, and has had residencies at Mills College and Headlands Center for the Arts. She currently teaches in USF’s Department of Art + Architecture and UC Berkeley’s department of Art Practice.