Lori Hepner

Artist Statement


Unworkings of a Binary System is a body of work that focuses on the translation of the hidden computer language of binary code to visualized human gestures through performance. The work combines cutting edge technology and primal art mediums to highlight the difference between the speed of machines and the slowness of the body. This is done through utilizing the body in performance to create representations of code in unexpected ways. Stitching, flour, dirt, ribbon, and pixels become vehicles for expressing a humanized translation of digital systems.

The hand of the artist is literally utilized to create renditions of binary code in real time, which contrasts with the real time that is mediated by digital processing. The creation of a one is experienced in humanized perceptual time. A zero is much more than the absence present between two ones that dictate its existence in the computer. The gestures impart error into the perfection of the code, which brings up our cultural fascination with the godly nature of digital systems. The binary code that is lifeblood of the digital systems of today is considered as infallible. The layering of digital to human to digital illustrates the human element of error, which suggests how binary code may only be superficially errorless in its form.

Through enactment of binary code, the artist's body is placed within the zero position as it strives to give physicality to the digital system. During the pieces the artist locates herself in the role of self-proclaimed cyborg, as her performative gestures invoke the both the natural and technological essence of embodiment. Once the performance is finished and melts away into the landscape, the physical residue of ones and zeros that are left for viewers to discover are affected by the elements. Through this, the artist places her personal fingerprint within the framework of the code itself, which acts as a marker to human intervention, while also allowing forces in the landscape to interfere with the clarity of the code.

Digital artworks are created from the post-performance remains to return the piece to its technological beginnings by becoming binary code once again. The performance's essence, which has become locked within the documentation, is transformed into aesthetic works. It is the error that imparts an imprint of the individual into the computer's definitive code, which questions the invisible perfection of the code itself.

The practice of creating code in my work allows for the exploration of the chance of an imperfect system in the digital world that now encompasses us.

Lori Hepner Bio

Lori Hepner's work has been shown nationally and internationally including the Sexto Festival Internacional de la Imagen in Manizales, Colombia; the Sixth International Digital Art Exhibit in Havana, Cuba; the 2005 Boston Cyberarts Festival; FirstWorksProv Festival in Providence, RI; and the Technolocized Body exhibition at the Los Angeles Center for Digital Art. She received an MFA in Digital Media from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2005. Ms. Hepner currently lives and works in Pittsburgh, PA where she holds the position of Assistant Professor of Integrative Arts at Penn State Greater Allegheny.