Ben Chang, Mary Lucking, Silvia Ruzanka, Andrew Sempere, Dmitry Strakovsky: The Jackals

  • ©,

  • ©,

Artist Statement:

    Appropriation is a commonly heard piece of artspeak which is used to discuss the deliberate reworking of one work into another (often unrelated) work. The Oxford English Dictionary expands this definition to include the phrase “without authority,” and although this is usually true, appropriation is not synonymous with plagiarism. The key difference is that while plagiarism is outright theft by misrepresentation, appropriation is recontextulization for the purpose of discovering additional meaning.

    Both artists and engineers who work with technology should be intimately familiar with this and other themes the Jackals are exploring. As technology artists, the “medium” of the Jackals’ work is very often the end product of someone else’s work. The pieces they develop, composed often as not by appropriated consumer technology, represent a recontextualization of the end product of a commercial process.

    Although appropriation is not new nor limited to art—it is perhaps similar if not synonymous with “reverse engineering”—the Jackals are lending the process a fresh face by openly acknowledging it and taking it a step further: by inviting the attendees and organizers of SIGGRAPH to participate in their process.

    Except in few special cases, artists who are also technologists are not privileged to start their work from scratch. Painters may have once mixed their own pigments, and may do so again, but net artists do not build their own Internet (nor do they wish to).

    The art world has long championed the individual, elevating signatures to logos and turning galleries into showrooms. The Jackals reverse this “cult of the individual” by publicly recognizing their own reliance on others as artists, technologists, and humans living in our technology-laden (if not driven) society. Rather than search for the next “big idea,” the Jackals recognize the collaborative necessity of human experience. “Big ideas” emerge on their own, and they could not do what they do without the help of others. Frankly, neither can we.

Affiliation Where Artwork Was Created:

    School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Other Information:


    In the gray space between utopia and dystopia we who are jackals live on the edges. Opportunistic omnivores who are, unavoidably, circling your city! There have always been jackals, there always will be jackals. We are the ones who put your tech to use, the ones who recycle the glut and make it useful in aesthetic glory. The technology is neither servant nor master, but merely our raw material, to gnaw, rework, shape and build.

    Stealing as appropriation is appropriate to this venue. The building is the making is the thinking is the reason. Invited or not, we will be watching, thinking, reshaping. The making of art is the making of the future from the past. Moore’s law yearly doubles the power of the past, making the present at least half as strong as it will be. The building of our work is the process by which we internalize your world and construct our own. Web sites, plasma displays, high modernism, biotech, abstract expressionism, history, postmodernism, mechanical engineering, physics, philosophy, IP protocols, circuit boards, and solder are all dropped into a blender with a bit of irony. The resulting concoction we call art and technology, the horrible crossbreeding of the best and worst of our thinking.

    Scientists have combined spinach and pigs, painters have reworked painting as photo as handmaiden of science as art object as commodity into market. And we who are neither, do neither and both, and render your commodities useless as market art objects, even evolving something of our own.

    The Jackals will live on the outskirts of the metropolis, watching, collecting, repurposing what they can to construct a new reality of techno-art. We will arrive with only enough supplies to survive. The nature of the work depends on what we can scavenge. We invite all participants of the conference to watch, or better yet, participate in our work.