Clement Valla is an artist and programmer interested in processes that produce unfamiliar artifacts and skew reality. Valla works within systems, applying a ‘programmed brain’ that pushes problem-solving logic to irrational ends. His recent work examines copies, repetition and reproduction markets – from Chinese ‘Oil-Painting Factories’ to drawings on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. This work explores the tension between individual creativity and the influence of systems and networks on the individual.

I write instructions and computer code in order to explore systems. My programs are generative. They rely on chance, randomness, repetition and recombination in order to produce complex and unexpected images that lie on the boundary between nature and artifice.

I find systems that produce unintended artifacts, unexplored juxtapositions. Glitches, not designed effects. I collect these strange occurrences.

I explore an authorless world at the intersection of human labor and digitized systems, a blurred boundary between human creativity and machine intelligence where computers are built to think increasingly like humans and where humans act like computers , and use them as metaphors for looking at nature and themselves. In this ambiguous territory, I play notions of the hand-made, the mechanical, the natural and the systematic off of each other.

Here is a statement made by Clement Valla for Rhizome.

When did you first notice the glitch in Google Earth? What inspired you to begin capturing these surreal moments?

It was accidental. I was Google-Earthing a location in China, and I noticed that a striking number of buildings looked like they were upside down. I could tell there were two competing visual inputs here – the 3d model, and the mapping of the satellite photography, and they didn’t match up. The computer is doing exactly what it’s supposed to do, but the depth cues of the aerials, the perspective, the shadows and lighting, were not aligning with depth cues of the 3d earth model. I figured that this was not a unique situation in Google Earth, and I started looking at obvious situations where the depth cues would be off—bridges, tall skyscrapers, canyons. Soon I noticed the photos being updated, and the aerial photographs would be ‘flatter’ (taken from less of an angle) or the shadows below bridges would be more muted. Google Earth is a constantly changing dynamic system, so I had to capture these specific moments as still images.

The entire set can be viewed here.


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