One strike against technology-based artwork is that it’s notoriously difficult to get to work correctly, as was the case with Julius Popp’s Bit.Flow MK2 at the Dogenhaus booth at Volta. Since we’ve been fans of Popp’s previous work, we stopped to talk to the dealer and find out what exactly we weren’t seeing in its fully functioning form.
Popp’s work sits right at the intersection of programming and engineering. He writes programs to scroll the internet for key words that contribute data to his mechanical systems that use materials to illustrate those patterns through ephemeral messages displayed or transmitted via custom-built machines. Amid the tangle of clear tubes on the floor, in theory, a pattern emerges if you’re standing in a certain position in relation to the tubes.
The conceptual beauty of Popp’s work is undeniable — from releasing buoys into the ocean that transmit positioning data back to their owners, to droplets of water forming into words as they fall, to tubes that traffic messages from the ether. Yet art is ultimately a visual endeavor, and must present its case to the eyes in order to persuade the mind. If the viewer is left to imagine how something works with the guidance of a weighty statement, she might, in her imagination, greatly improve upon the concept.