Kenyon College

Camille Utterback


Spirited and playful, the digital installations and reactive sculptures of Camille Utterback (1970) bring modernist abstraction to life. Now living in San Francisco, she holds degrees from Williams College and NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program. She has been a MacArthur Genius (2009) and a Rockefeller Foundation Fellow (2002). Last year, her work even “app”-eared on the iPad and iPhone, as an app that Utterback helped design and program herself.

By refiguring the possibilities for interaction with digital media, I question and explore the space between the symbolic and the corporeal; between the virtual and the real. By creating poetic relationships between these spaces I hope to engage people both emotionally and viscerally.” —Artist Statement, Camille Utterback.

I find it essential to engage with the digital medium at the level of code and electronics. By writing my own software and designing my own interfaces I free my work from the limits and assumptions of commercially based tools and products. Only at this level can one truly sculpt in the medium.” —Artist Statement, Camille Utterback.

An understanding of the language of code and computation allows me to reject normal data structures in Liquid Time—where I deconstruct the video frame as a unit of display, or repurpose those structures in Drawing From Life—where the image becomes text characters themselves. My custom video tracking systems, including the patent pending system developed for Text Rain, have redefined current notions of interactivity.” —Artist Statement, Camille Utterback.

I think the process goes like: ‘Oh, this thing is reacting to me?’ And then you ask: ‘Well, how is it reacting to me?’ There is nothing written in here, so the only way to discover that is to try things out, and you start thinking: ‘What happens if I try this? What happens if I try that?’ I think this questioning mode puts you in a state where you are present aware and very open. And I also believe that you are most creative, when you are in that kind of mode. As an artist I have to put myself in that mindset to make the work.” —Soerensen, Emil Back. “An Experience With Your Body in Space.”, May 13. 2005.

 “Machines and the technology disappear when it becomes part of our life.” —Soerensen, Emil Back. “An Experience With Your Body in Space.”, May 13. 2005.

My work is trying to bring the bodily experience back into technology.” —Soerensen, Emil Back. “An Experience With Your Body in Space.”, May 13. 2005.

I’m really interested in the idea that we have a body and how integral that is to who we are and how we function and that it sometimes gets lost in all our media.” —Soerensen, Emil Back. “An Experience With Your Body in Space.”, May 13. 2005.

With much of my artwork—in both traditional and digital media—I have attempted to draw attention to the connections between human bodies and the symbolic systems our bodies engage with. The digital medium interests me because it is a perfect site to explore the interface between physical bodies and the various representational systems, be they language, the linear perspective used in three-dimensional rendering, or the various forms of computer code itself.” —Wardrip-Fruin, Noah and Pat Harrigan, eds. First Person: New Media as Story, Performance, and Game. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA. 2003.

Utterback adds to a rich lineage of abstract imagery and inverts the typical effect of contemporary technology, using it to draw us into, rather than away from, our own perceptions and physicality.” —Lisa Dorin in “Animated gestures,” Art Interactive 2007. Cambridge, MA.

Camille Utterback
Click to view the gallery



Meet the Makerbots, Marius Watz's 3-D printed scul...

Explore Camille Utterback's interactive painting, ...

Learn about Nathalie Miebach's wicker sculpture!...