When Norbert Wiener coined the term Cybernetics, I tend to doubt he had Cybernetic Art as the foremost reason for coining the term. While I believe while Mr. Weiner had a very large vision of cybernetics as the basis or foundation of controlling systems through feedback, I doubt he envisioned the artistic results that resulted from an artist’s concept of interaction and promotion with a work of art. Nicolas Shöffer, Les Levine and Ken Rinaldo are probably some of the more famous artists to utilize the concept of cybernetics, interaction and feedback in works of art. In my opinion, one of the most interesting pieces I have found was created by an artist, originally from China, Wen-Ying Tsai, who was influenced heavily in mechanical engineering, painting and sculpture in the United States.
In 1991 displayed his cybernetic sculpture “Desert Spring” and won the ARTEC Grandprix. The piece takes some elements for his earlier work and focuses more on a self-regulating relationship of the sculpture and its environment. In concept, it appears similar to the concepts of Ken Rinaldo’s “Autopoesis,” “Desert spring” was created and displayed almost a decade before Ken Rinaldo’s piece. When a viewer enters the display space, “Desert Spring” senses the disruption of its normal tranquil state through infra red and audio sensors and begins to “destabilize from normal relaxed undulations to excited rapid palpatations.” The work appears to focus on natural behavior versus disturbed or disrupted behavior. The piece only returns to its tranquil state when the observer or observers leave the space.
Personally, I find the concept of the work to be almost a base of “Autopoesis,” while being more pleasing in appearance at the same time. Granted, it is probably not as technically intricate and complex, but I like the display and installation being in a darkened room with the brilliance of the sculptures color accented by light; I believe it makes one focus on the piece rather than being overwhelmed by the view of multitudes of robotic arms hanging from the ceiling in a stark white room. I believe the main focus on interaction or feedback of sensing the watchers presence and the works’ disruption from normal behavior or stasis to be pretty much the same.