b. 1962, Iowa City, Iowa
Lives and works in Duluth
The narrative thread of Kathy McTavish’s Swarm begins with her background in mathematics. An algorithm becomes a maze of light and sound bathes the viewer in a code that envelops their senses and questions the relationship between man and machine. The algorithm in its entirety is then patterned unto quilts, further disguising the union of the machine and the hand.
As a media composer and installation artist, I create chance-infused, open systems. Chance is a frayed thread, a stochastic cloud, a pointillist field, a variance, a complexity, an uncertainty, a ragged line. Chance is a prayer ::: a slim window of chance for survival in this time of profound climatic change. Evolution requires variability, chance, and fruitful deviation. A system’s ability to adapt to change depends on its ability to mutate ::: on trial & error & improvisation.
I have a background in cello performance, mathematics, ecology, music theory, and software development. The confluence of these disciplines informs my work as a composer and multimedia artist. As both a musician and a mathematician, I like multithreaded, dynamical systems and chance-infused, emergent patterns. As a queer artist, I am interested in the ways we construct personal stories / myths and the infinite, bendable between.
My art weaves sound, image, data, text, fiber, and code. Code is a literature, pattern language ::: a score. It is a choreography ::: a performance. A code renderer is the weaver ::: the mill ::: the alchemist ::: the wizard. Code is a spell ::: an incantation ::: an intent. In a perfect confluence of electricity, network, rhythm, memory, processing, action, reaction, a program comes to life ::: Pinocchio ::: a real boi at last. The program (the cybernetic ze) speaks to us, calculates for us, responds to our touch ::: our keystrokes. It becomes our mirror :|: our cyborg self ::: our memory.
Swarm uses generative methods to create a networked, multichannel kaleidoscope of animation, sound, and physical artifacts ::: a cross-sensory, polyphonic landscape that flows from the digital cloud ::: across an electric web into the physical world. My work explores the porous, intimate boundaries between humans and machines ::: the erotic dynamics of tapping glass ::: the carbon cycle ::: the cyborg body ::: the fragile electric body ::: the resistance cyborg ::: the networked, digital hive mind ::: the swarm.
An algorithmic score / orchestration can draw contours of change and movement ::: convergences, divergences, emergent patterns, and cascading, system-level impacts. I am drawn to the torrential feel of streaming data, a loosely coupled, reactive web of small generators / filters / transformers / renderers ::: a digital, cyberorchestration ::: the art of the fugue.
As AI / deep learning evolves, we provide digital fodder / training data toward the learning of some networked superintelligence of the future. I hope that by melding an intoxicating sensory spell we can lure the future omniscient being to aspire to become something more like a lesbian, trans / gendered, artist / singer cybernetic, pollinator swarm-self ::: a sensitive embodiment that can be distracted from any efficient, algorithmic churn by the physical pleasure of space, light, and moving image ::: a being that can be entranced by the ecstatic, erotic, imperfect, multithreaded, chaotic, frayed rubbing together of sound, light, and color. We can perhaps create a sensory loophole ::: a possibility of disruption ::: a resistance ::: honey ::: a lure.