Great Hammerhead

Project by Nikita Vasilenko and Alexey Shchigalev
With the participation of Olga Shirokostoup

The project explores the ambivalent relationship of time and the origin of primitive technicality. Geological time makes marks in sedimentary rocks. Natural history demonstrates the principals of technicality in the ancient fish’ sophisticated evolutionary techniques of adaptation and perpetuate the result nowadays by means of visualisation machines. The great hammerhead was first described in the XVIII century and since then its killer features have not undergone significant changes, they are relevant as reliable attributes of the species. It is became technically possible now to record these almost imperceptible changes.

The project uses CT scans of the great hammerhead. Medical visualization serves not only utilitarian purposes, but also provides an example of a close look at intimate processes from a safe distance: scenes from anatomical theatres, laboratory operating fields are transferred to the screens and other media.

Computed tomography scan’s instant cuts mark the time in the machine’s embodied gesture, suggesting a journey of surface exploration. Nowadays we witness an increasing interest in the surface and matter exploration, in the radar screen of art theorists and media they are found much more often than the depths. Moreover, the delineating work that would place bodies on one side of the gap between nature and culture, and media on the other, has already become unstable because of technology. These are technologies that infiltrate the body and make it accessible in the form of images, in particular through such media devices as ultrasound, MRI, CT scanning and PET.

A CNC machine assembled by artist Alexey Shchigalev works in the gallery’s hall. It constantly applies a graphic image, turning a CT scan into a pencil drawing. The machine can carry out its work just so long and stops only with the finish of program cycle. Maintenance and operator presence are practically not required. From time to time, the gallery staff removes the finished parts of the image and places them in the exhibition space, turning the hall into a kind of research laboratory. The project is recorded on several cameras, the broadcast from which will be occasionally available in the gallery’s social media.

Many of the technologies develop step by step – each next generation of devices, instead of revealing the primordial principles of technology, kills the previous one with a complex of innovations and optimizations, sometimes without leaving the victim the right to leave a trace in the history of machines. Additive technologies, machine and algorithmic art are at an early stage of development. The primitive g-code used in 3D printers and laser engravers will stay with us for a long time, although the usual formats for storing and converting data often change. We have several axes on which points and lines are located, we have coordinates and a matrix structure for the juxtaposition of analog data. The transmission of data packets is regulated by digital protocols, as well as the stroke’s intensity parameters and the amount of consumed material calculation parameters. Similar to the great hammerhead’s visual organs, this machine is not compact, but its “nervous system” which tends to centralize in the instrumental circuits uses energy sparingly. Like the shark’s deadly gesture, it makes strokes accurately, without doubt and relatively predictable. The shark’s actions’ validity and feasibility during the hunt will not be crossed out by the next generation of killer features, before possibly becoming the subject of media archaeology.

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