Olivia Robinson, "Oblivious", 2004, video installation on touch sensitive table.

Olivia Robinson, “Oblivious”, 2004, video installation on touch sensitive table.

Olivia Robinson

selected by Kathy High

“Oblivious: an interactive video installation” / A naked man is sleeping on this table. As you touch the soft surface of the table, the man reacts physically. He wiggles, leans or rolls over in response to your pokes, prods, caresses, tickles and slaps. In response to the intensity and frequency of your touch, as if shrinking from this unbidden intimacy, his image fades away.

“Oblivious” touches on issues of power, vulnerability, potential for abuse or intimacy, as well as our level of comfort with a naked male body.

The image of the man fades in the areas that have been touched the most. Over time, as more and more people interact with him, those areas will become rubbed or “touched” away. His evolving body becomes a record of people’s hands and where they have chosen to touch him.

At the beginning of this show he will be completely opaque, present and oblivious of your existence. As the next two months pass, he will change in accordance with the collective interaction.

Kathy High writes: Olivia Robinson’s work combines technical prowess with conceptual humor. She is a skilled technician and her reflection on the human psyche translates into projects that all of us can relate to in some way. With Oblivious, she programmed a complicated project that mischievously engages the public, provoking their interaction. Her work is delightfully playful and voyeuristic, as we make her male figure twitch and squirm, and at the same time this project is disturbing, publicly rubbing a naked male figure, and ultimately erasing his form. Her refined graphic aesthetic and her attention to detail are balanced with a look at the “messiness” of our human condition.

Olivia Robinson earned her MFA in 2004 from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and her BFA from Maryland Institute College of Art. She has been in exhibitions and performances at the Boston Cyberarts Festival, the Corcoran Museum in Washington , DC ; Deep Listening Space in Kingston , NY ; the Center for Contemporary Art in Seattle , WA ; and the Baltimore Museum of Art. Robinson has participated in residencies at the Center for Land Use Interpretation in Wendover, Utah; the Atlantic Center for the Arts in New Smyrna Beach, Florida; and been awarded grants and fellowships from the Pauline Oliveros Foundation, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and the Maryland State Arts Council. She has presented lectures and workshops at the Massachusetts College of Art and the Maryland Institute College of Art, and works professionally as a computer programmer for artists. In addition Olivia has been a costume designer, video arts instructor, and is the co-director of Little Big Bang, a community based not-for-profit performance troupe.