Garnet Hertz - Experiments in Galvanism: Frog with Implanted Webserver
University Art Gallery - California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo - January 19th to February 17th 2007

Overview

Experiments in Galvanism is the culmination of studio and gallery experiments in which a miniature computer is implanted into the dead body of a frog specimen. Akin to Damien Hirst's bodies in formaldehyde, the frog is suspended in clear liquid contained in a glass cube, with a blue ethernet cable leading into its splayed abdomen. The computer stores a website that enables users to trigger physical movement in the corpse: the resulting movement can be seen in gallery, and through a live streaming webcamera.
- Risa Horowitz (2003)
Garnet Hertz has implanted a miniature webserver in the body of a frog specimen, which is suspended in a clear glass container of mineral oil, an inert liquid that does not conduct electricity. The frog is viewable on the Internet, and on the computer monitor across the room, through a webcam placed on the wall of the gallery. Through an Ethernet cable connected to the embedded webserver, remote viewers can trigger movement in either the right or left leg of the frog, thereby updating Luigi Galvani's original 1786 experiment causing the legs of a dead frog to twitch simply by touching muscles and nerves with metal.
Experiments in Galvanism is both a reference to the origins of electricity, one of the earliest new media, and, through Galvani's discovery that bioelectric forces exist within living tissue, a nod to what many theorists and practitioners consider to be the new new media: bio(tech) art.
- Sarah Cook and Steve Dietz (2005)

Tutorial

The project is currently active at the University Art Gallery at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo from January 19th to February 17th 2007. During these dates, a website at http://conceptlab.com/frog/ allows users in the gallery and on the internet to interact with the project, a frog specimen suspended in a tank of liquid with a miniature computer inside of its body cavity:

The screen is split in two parts: the left of the screen shows a live gallery "webcam" image, and the right of the screen displays controls for users to interact with the project.


The right part of the screen displays the text "BODY INTERIOR", an image of a frog body with electronics, and two links: "LEFT LEG" and "RIGHT LEG".

The right "body interior" website is physically stored and retrieved from a miniature computer - or web server - inside of the frog body. In essence, the right portion of the screen is a view inside of the frog's body, or at least data stored on electronics implanted inside of it.


Clicking on "LEFT LEG" or "RIGHT LEG" activates motors inside of the frog's body. These motors make the frog's legs physically move in the gallery space. After clicking the leg activation links, a "LEFT LEG ACTIVATED" or "RIGHT LEG ACTIVATED" screen is displayed for about two seconds while the specimen's legs are in motion.


The left side of the screen displays a view from a live webcam, positioned about 125 cm (4 feet) directly above the frog and its surrounding tank.


When the "LEFT LEG" or "RIGHT LEG" links are activated, the movement of the frog's legs can be seen on the live camera. In addition, people in the gallery space can also be seen.

The exhibition space at San Luis Obispo has a computer about 3 meters (10 ft) away from the frog/tank, with http://conceptlab.com/frog/ loaded on it. This enables gallery visitors to activate the piece and simultaneously view it in the exhibition space. Viewers off-site can also activate the project and view in-gallery viewers huddled around the glass tank and frog.

Documentation

Experiments in Galvanism - Garnet Hertz - Photo by Bill Eakin

"Experiments in Galvanism" (Photo by Bill Eakin, as installed in Ace Art Inc, Winnipeg, Canada 2003.)

Garnet Hertz - Experiments in Galvanism: Frog with Implanted Webserver
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