Lauren Lee McCarthy
I decided to do my fourth artist profile on Lauren Lee McCarthy. McCarthy is a Chinese American artist and computer programmer. She is well known for her art because it is a unique combination of technology, computer programming, performance, media, and interaction with her audience or subjects. To create her pieces, McCarthy uses various digital platforms including social media, clothes, sensors, video, and more. McCarthy has been making art since she started college at MIT back in 2008, though she most likely had an interest or hand in art and programming before her college years. She has won numerous awards over the years putting her pieces that combine data visualization and performance art at the forefront of her fame and influence as an artist. Some of these works include LAUREN, The Changing Room, and p5.js (although it is an open-source software program since it creates art I am counting it 😊).
After looking over and exploring McCarthy’s work I see a consistent theme of social interaction between humans and technology and her feelings and interests on this subject. Her techniques utilize technology (mainly screens and cameras/video) and programing along with her aptitude for visual art and design to create a finished piece of performance/interactive art to share with her audience.
The Changing Room
This first piece is an interactive performance piece created by McCarthy to allow her participants to select and emerge themselves and the people around them in one of hundreds of emotions. The piece uses a custom software to create an environment to induce the selected emotion. This piece immediately made me say “I want to go there!” I thought this was just a brilliant idea and the fact that the software could produce up to a few hundred emotions is mind blowing to me. Her interest in our interaction with technology is ever-present here as participants have to interact with large screens and listen to the male version of Alexa instruct them how to go about feeling their selected emotion.
This second piece is also an interactive performance piece created by McCarthy that allows viewers to see what “vibes” they receive from the other participants. McCarthy utilizes surveillance equipment and facial recognition software to create this piece. This work stood out to me since it was created during the pandemic and brings awareness to the new insecurities or happiness that now affect social interaction between people. I think going to see this exhibit in real life would be an amazing experience, especially if I could see the coding and inner workings that make this possible.
Tools for Improved Social Interacting
This final piece I thought was a crazy, yet fun idea. While I would not like to wear these items as an everyday accessory, I think these items speak volumes just by being created. These items are in alignment with McCarthy’s theme and techniques and speak to our social experience in terms of how hard social interaction with people has become. Whether we are daydreaming or just having a bad day this art shows us that sometimes we just need a little push (or poke) in the right direction to better interact with people.