The Navigator by Paul Schuette
About the work
The Navigator is a hybrid work of art: a staged collision of sonic and visual information. The visual components are inspired by Asa Smith’s 19th century astronomical illustrations: outdated planetary charts that served a didactic purpose for his readers. Additional source materials include 1950s science fiction stage sets, clock parts, and mythological scientific instruments. Tensions between the handmade and the mechanical, illusion and artifice, and function and futility, positions The Navigator as an amalgamation of past representations of ideological futures. Similar to make-believe, the viewer is consumed by an experience on the verge of rupture.
As The Navigator performs its various functions, its true purpose remains enigmatic. While every journey has a destination, The Navigator’s priority is the voyage. In “Wind Up”, the music is energetic and intricate, influenced by strains of minimalism, yet the question of mechanical malfunction begins early on as kinks enter into the clockwork precision. “Unlock” is an hypnotic journey through nocturnal spaces - pointillistic starbursts of sound map a course out of the darkness and into the light. In the final leg, once a tenuous signal is established, The Navigator is ready to “Transmit” to its final destination.
In day to day life, we put the material world to use: cars, coffee makers, and cell phones, to name a few. These objects are typically defined by the unique purpose they serve: cars take us places, coffee makers fuel the morning routine, and cellphones... do most of the rest. However, philosophers have argued that we never truly see these objects for what they actually are until they break. A broken cellphone no longer able to serve any of its myriad purposes, can be seen for what it truly is: a chocolate-bar-sized piece of glass and aluminum housing an intricate array of precious metals and circuit boards. Without a purpose, the object’s techne is revealed.
Historically, art objects have served the purpose of glorifying the spiritual, entertaining the masses, and representing ideals of truth, beauty, and power.. In the early years of the 20th century, with the wheels of modernity in full swing, the purpose, appearance, and function of western art was set on a new course. No longer fixated on mimesis, artists began working in opposition to the dominant trend that art should copy nature. As The Navigator charts its own 21st century voyage, its destination remains a question and, in doing so, imparts something else about its true nature.
The Warp Whistle Project
The Warp Whistle Project is a cross-disciplinary collaboration that stages various relationships between sonic and visual information. Visually, the work has included conventional painting formats, video, and site-specific installations. Sonically, each project integrates unique technologies (CMOS synthesizers, Arduinos, Raspberry Pis, etc.) for the production of sound, motion, and light. Learn more about the project here.