Wednesday Spotlight With Multimedia Artist Randy Devost

There are not many people you can say you've been friends with for over 15 years, especially when you are in your mid twenties. I've known Randy since we were 14. He's always been an artist and our lives have always intersected in interesting ways. Randy is, like me, super into online media (his thesis is on the subject) and I really wanted to interview him for this last Holy Technology! post. I always learn something from Randy Devost.

1. How many hours a day do you spend online? What online pursuit seems to take up the most of your time?

Randy-devost I think if someone was secretly following me around during the day they would see that I'm online an average of 3 or 4 hours a day. I think that is important because personally I feel like I'm online ALL the time. In reality, I'm often on the go and don't own a mobile device. The online pursuit that takes up most of my time would have to be emails and messaging people. The other would be keeping up with culture, news and other info through video, blog, and other info sharing devices and services.
 
2. What are three websites you couldn't live without (professionally)?

Gmail (communication), Google Calendar (coordination), and perhaps LinkedIn (networking)



3. What are three websites you couldn't live without (personally)?

Versiontracker.com (software info), Torrentz.com (file sharing), Facebook.com (what's this?)

4. You live in Quebec yet it seems in my online travels that most websites I stumble upon are in English. Do you think the internet and in particular social media are as accessible to people who speak little or no English?

I think what your asking is called "localization" or making websites multilingual. Personally, I do think that the U.S. is the leader in website development. I use an interesting Firefox add-on called "Flagfox" that allows me to see where a website is coming from. 90 percent of the time a little U.S. flag appears. However, all the major websites that have become extremely popular do cater to non-English speakers. Often, these websites are designed to automatically recognize the user's IP address and set the language settings. I think Americans don't always realize this because they constantly swim in a pool of English-based media generated from within their own country. I work directly in the language industry and you would be flabbergasted by the efforts made to make websites and applications multilingual. In my opinion, its absolutely necessary and has to be considered if companies hope to stay afloat in today's international market.

5. As an artist who works with digital images, do you think artists like yourself should get credit for these images? I guess maybe the right question would be are digital photographs art?

I do think digital photographs can be art. I think photography can be art too. Although, this is an easy thing for me to say. Artists have spent lifetimes trying to prove that photography and now digital photography can be art. It's easy for me to just glean their efforts. Many artists and professionals I studied with at the Maryland Institute College of art were very wrapped up in this discursive subject. They were very passionate and almost obsessed with the debate of the digital image.

Personally, as an artist I'm a bit of a heavy-handed deconstructionist. Video, film, photography, screen media, projections… its all light to me! I enjoy thinking about photography's relation to light and how that links it to all kinds of crazy fields people wouldn't relate. For example, in neurological science they are studying how light effects the brain and our emotions. They are also looking at how exactly our eyes see. In media theory there is something about light being pure information. These types of thoughts really illuminate me as an artist.

What doesn't are more Marxist/economic concerns in art theory. Perhaps I'm just bitter and socially unvalidated, but to me copyright and authorship are the concerns of capitalists. We don't own light, the universe does. I view the concerns of copyright and authorship in a much less noble manner than lets say a poet whose preoccupations grapple with the vast nature of the human spirit.

I think the avant-garde digital photographers of today SHOULD craft their work for appropriation. The more the photos can be taken, altered and used on a massive scale the better in my opinion. It's the neo-tribal online colaborative mentality of today. Come on, get with it. 

6. How has online culture influenced you as an artist? As a member of society?

I think the internet has always existed as a media that allows for anonymous interaction with other people who share common interests and beliefs. It is a very liberating and important media that is continuing to transform the way our culture interacts meaningfully with eachother. I particularly enjoy the aspects of group think and collective intelligence that has emerged out of it. Again, I think there is a new society forming online and those who are vested in this may feel less attached to the old ideas of being born into a certain nationality or culture.

7. I'd love to hear about some tech-related projects you're working on.

The only thing probably worth mentioning is that I'm doing a master's thesis on how and why we go about collecting information online through Social Bookmarking Services (bookmarks, favorites, etc.).

8. I like to give people I interview a chance to ask themselves a question they wish I would have asked and then answer it. Feel free….

What's your three favorite RSS feeds right now? Lolcats photos, Chris Crocker videos, and Breaking Even posts. 😉

I didn't pay him to say that last one, I swear!

Nicole Ouellette
Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she's not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

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