Carl Skelton was born in Toronto in 1961, very early in the morning (his mother still occasionally complains about that part). He did his undergraduate work in Fine Arts at the Université des Sciences Humaines de Strasbourg in France and Queen’s University in Canada (BFA 1982); Master’s at the University of Alberta (MVA 1986); and his Doctorate under Frieder Nake at the University of Bremen (Dr-Ing. Informatik 2013).
Carl has been working at the intersection of art, technology, and citizen engagement the whole time. Along the way, he founded the Integrated Digital Media graduate and undergraduate programs at what is now NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering; spearheaded development of the Betaville massively participatory urban planning and design platform; Performed/exhibited physical and media-based public art projects in spaces as varied as an abandoned monastery (St. Norbert, Manitoba), the colonnade of the Manhattan bridge in New York City, a shipping container on the Bahnhofplatz in Bremen, ISEA in Durban, smartphones at Rooftop Films screenings, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts… his acquirable works are in public and private collections in Canada, the United States, and Europe. Awards include the Rockefeller Foundation Innovation Fund, a Jane Jacobs medal for technology and innovation , the Canada Council for the Arts (Digital Futures Fund), Microsoft Research, the National Science Foundation, and the German Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung. Stay tuned.
Skelton’s ISOLUX series is an ongoing project of “re-animation” of the original ISOTYPE icon library of the 1920’s- Otto Neurath originally commissioned Gerd Arntz to produce a comprehensive set of infographic icons for the Museum of Economics and Society in Vienna to support the design of educational exhibits in the context of a larger project of universalization of data literacy, intended in turn to support a broader agenda of democratization, and of development of the competence of participatory (social-democratic) governance. In the years since, the ISOTYPE icon library has been adapted to digital uses and culture as the core of just about every graphical user interface on every phone and computer and control panel world-wide, … minus – oops! – ISOTYPE’s social, ethical, and political elements/purpose. Now that its common
visual language is effectively ubiquitous across geographical, race, and class boundaries, it might be good for that language not to be quite so empty. ISOLUX brings all those messy layers back into play as “layered variations” on their antecedents, in the present and the present tense.
In general, ISOLUX images are designed to be projected onto walls and streets and skin, using equipment purpose-built by the artist with ethically sourced materials and components. The ISOLUX / Perpetual sub-series take this de-materialization to the next level as short but infinitely-cycling animations, reduced to their minimum media: scalable vector graphics (.svg), encoded directly into the smart contract component of non-fungible tokens.
Where ISOTYPE and ISOLUX set out to build a library or language of relatively stable icons, the ISOLUX / Perpetual animations face the fact that meanings are now as unstable in the physical present as they always have been over historical time. While the images and their motion are effectively made infinitely permanent in the form of human-readable code embedded in the nft documentation, what you think they are about is likely to change in the time it takes their loops to execute twice, and keep changing as long as they are visible, whether projected onto surfaces or kept on a mobile device or a distributed server network.
carl skeltonISOLUX Perpetual / Progressive (With Reservations), 2021
animated scalable vector graphic (SVG)