Giver of Names
David Rokeby, Canada
Giver of Names, 1991
Installation (computer, video camera, projection)
Photo by Robert Keziere
Selected by: Christiane Paul and Steve Dietz
The Giver of Names is a computer system that quite literally gives objects names by trying to describe them. The installation consists of an empty pedestal, a video camera, a computer system, and a small video projection. Visitors can choose an object or set of objects from those in the space, or from the ones they might carry with them, and place them on the pedestal, which is observed by a camera. When an object is placed on the pedestal, the computer grabs an image and then performs many levels of image processing (outline analysis, division into separate objects or parts, color analysis, texture analysis, etc.). These processes are visible on the life-size video projection above the pedestal where the objects make the transition from real to imaged to increasingly abstracted as the system tries to understand them. Rather than functioning as a kind of Turing Test, Giver of Names is an exploration of the various levels of perception that allow us to arrive at interpretations, and creates an anatomy of meaning as defined by associative processes.
David Rokeby