The RapiCRIT Mobile Art Criticism System is a wall-mounted acrylic box with a proximity sensor and a thermal receipt printer. It functions as a sort of faux vending machine for the gallery, generating random art criticism from a small vocabulary of art terms and sentence template. The accompanying signage indicates that this is a service provided to “inexperienced gallery patron[s]” in order for them to appear knowledgeable. I wanted to situate this piece slightly outside the context of the other work in an exhibition, allowing it to reflexively comment on that other work and on the art institution more broadly. Adopting the tone of institutional marketing allows me to place the work in this conceptual zone, even though the installation is clearly identified as an art object and, therefore, occupies the gallery space under false pretenses.
Similarly, the slips of generated “criticism” invite the viewer to actively participate in another form of bluffing—substituting art theoretical jargon and references for genuine understanding. At the same time, it begins to questions whether humans can claim full ownership of the creative process. Electronic communication technologies are often considered to be simply conduits for carrying information, but increasingly the line between mediator and author is blurring. If machines can actively participate in the creation and interpretation of new content, how does that change artmaking?