Contemporary debates around patent law, sparked by lawsuits among major consumer technology companies like Apple, Google, and Samsung, bring to light crucial issues affecting artists, entrepreneurs, and consumers alike.
Jeremy Bailey, Apparatus for the Augmented Reality Exchange of Stock for the 99% on the Internet, 2013. Courtesy the artist
One such issue, arguably the most pressing, is whether the patent industry inhibits, rather than nurtures, innovation; another relates to the new modes of physical behavior, related to touch and interaction, that corporations seek to own. “Jeremy Bailey: Famous New Media Art Patent Office,” a new commission for the First Look series, satirizes these complex issues by creating patents for the artist’s performance works—each one a genuine innovation of augmented reality that is, simultaneously, too idiosyncratic and abstract to actually require protection.
The six patents on view each include a representative drawing, as well as visual and legal descriptions. For the pencil sketch “Apparatus for the Display of Augmented Reality Nail Polish Musical Paintings on the Internet,” dynamic shapes are rendered shooting from the artist’s fingertips with musical notes gliding nearby. An accompanying written abstract breaks down not only the function of the work but also the associated behavior:
Project three-dimensional primitive sculpture paintings from fingernails in the three-dimensional environment triggering musical notes; display an image of the fingernails and the sculptural finger-strokes together in the three-dimensional environment and share these images live over the Internet; determine at least one of distance and orientation of the sculptures conjured by the fingernails from the camera with the help of fluorescent green nail polish and color keyed computer vision blob tracking…
Here, it is not only the end product, but the determinations, movements, and even the measure of chance at stake in the creation of the artwork that is asserted as intellectual property—a proposition that seems ridiculous when applied to an artwork, but also uncannily similar to the legal territory technology companies are increasingly trying to carve out.
An extension of previous projects, “Patent Office” reflects Bailey’s longstanding interest in combining new possibilities for self-representation with established forms of performance art. His work makes clear reference to iconic performances, in which a stationary camera (or in Bailey’s case, a webcam) captures transgressive actions or constructed personas. His works connect the hacker culture convention of the “demo” (in which a new technology is explained) to the enactment of a fictional persona, one that is part parody and part self-propagating meme: Famous New Media Artist Jeremy Bailey (FNMAJB) is an energetic, garrulous, and eager techno-utopian, who speaks to his audience as layers of augmented reality animate around him.
Presented in conjunction with Rhizome’s annual Seven on Seven Conference—in which Bailey will participate as one of the seven artists paired with technologists around the creation of new works—“Patent Office” dramatizes the production and threats surrounding new ideas at the intersection of art and technology.
“Jeremy Bailey is a Toronto-based Famous New Media Artist whose work explores custom software in a performative context. His work is often confidently self-deprecating in offering hilarious parodies of new media vocabularies.” (Marisa Olson, Rhizome) Recent projects include performances for Transmediale, the Stedelijk Museum, FACT, Tate Liverpool, and Rhizome at the New Museum in New York. Bailey is represented by Pari Nadimi Gallery. For more, visit jeremybailey.net.