scannerCanoScan N124OU Color Flatbed Scanner, c. 2001

The works of Ann Hamilton often employ technological elements to isolate essential “gestures” of communication through sound, video, and digital images. This scanner’s specific software and contact image sensor (CIS) technology, developed in the 1990s, played an essential role in Hamilton’s decision to generate the ghostly images of the presepio dolls for Figura, on view in the Central Court. CIS devices produce lower quality images with a limited depth of field due to lower power consumption and LED lighting. In comparison to older, tri-linear charge-coupled device (CCD) devices, this CIS device brings into focus the points of contact for 3-D objects, while leaving the background blurry and indistinct. As a result of this property, Hamilton’s scans of the presepio dolls isolate their communicative gestures.

The scanner’s presence in the teaching gallery raises other questions about the relationship among three entities: contemporary artists who incorporate technological elements; the technologies which support these elements; and museums. Should technology, which will eventually become outdated like the CCD devices which preceded the scanner present here, be accessioned or conserved by museums as integral parts of the artworks that depend on them? Andrea Pitt, History of Art graduate student


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