In 2013, the scope of the agency of the individual in the world seems more insignificant than ever. Ever-expanding state surveillance, the commodification of social relationships, and the near total reach of global capitalism all frame the experience of a new sublime which we feel powerless and often terrified in the face of. How can we as individuals make sense of our place in a world that is at once a giant machine bent on accumulation and domination, a world where it seems we have no place except as objects, and also one where we fall in love, grieve, and hope for change? What is the space between person as component of a system and the thinking, feeling individual who takes initiative to join with others and transform that system? If our identities are increasingly constituted by consumer culture, technologies of control, panoptic apparatuses, etc., how then can we think of ourselves as people who can honestly ask existential questions or help change the course of the world?
As scientists map the new territory of complex systems, I develop new ways to experience, reframe, and transform our encounters with human systems, especially in the curious places where uncertainty is the rule. My love for adventure and exploration of unfamiliar places has led me to approach the world of systems and social space by creating metaphorical connections in geographic and urban space. What I find most exciting is discovering or even fabricating those points of contact where analogy slips into literality, where the two worlds unexpectedly intersect. In these moments, complex systems can become legible at the scale of felt experience.
My past software-based works sought to reveal patterns in human geography by visualizing the invisible. In the past two years, I have moved from interpretation towards intervention, created a more central role for my own voice, and learned how to invite unpredictability into the process of making. These newer projects often begin as proposals for site-specific performances or interventions, which I develop as performative lectures. While the proposal itself is important, carrying it out remains vital: in realizing a proposal, I listen for opportunities afforded by chance, unforeseen interactions, and failure. In practice, ideas gain weight and fullness; concept becomes personal, intimate, and resonant.
David Rueter, a recent graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago's MFA program in Art and Technology Studies, is an internationally recognized artist working at the intersection of public art, software, electronics, and performance. In 2013, he was awarded a Prix Ars Electronica Honorary Mention in the category of Interactive Art, and received a John W Kurtich scholarship for travel to Scandinavia. His work has been exhibited at galleries and festivals across the US, including the International Symposium on Electronic Art and Northern Spark. Born in Ann Arbor, MI, he graduated from Oberlin College with a BA in Politics and a focus in Political Theory.