‘Designated Drivers’ Encourages Art Sharing at YSU

By Gabrielle Fellows

Photo by Gabrielle Fellows/ The Jambar.

Artists Brett Bloom and Marc Fischer, creators of the Temporary Services art label, display their interactive art exhibit, titled “Designated Drivers,” in the basement hallway of the Butler Museum of American Art.

The exhibit is a series of retractable clotheslines, each of which showcases a USB port attached to a stretchable cord. Each of the individual ports holds up to 4 gigabytes of material that is available for the public to download to their own personal devices and share. There are 20 different artists that have gathered around 20,000 files that are available to the public.

The artists that participated in the project were sought out by Bloom and Fischer for specific purposes and mediums. Many of the featured works are from international sources, such as Finland, Belgrade, the United Kingdom and some from throughout the United States.

Fischer, one half of Temporary Services, said that he compares the interactive art experience to sharing different movies or music with friends before digital sharing was available.

“This idea echoes tape trading communities, the whole experience of trading obscure movies or music with friends. It was peer to peer; it carried a sense of personal dimension,” Fischer said. “These files can’t be downloaded online and can only be downloaded via exhibit. Even though it’s digital, it encourages people to participate.”

Youngstown State University is the third school that has hosted the exhibit — allowing students to freely take video files, audio files, JPGs, PDF files and many more. Every type of sharable art form is provided, including animated GIFs.

Jonathan Dana Sperry, a digital media professor at YSU, said when he was thinking about different exhibits to place in the Butler Museum’s basement, “Designated Drivers” was one of his first thoughts.

“I knew [Temporary Services’] stuff and actually participated in a few exhibits in 2000. I had followed their work from then,” Sperry said. “I was trying to find something to fill the basement that showed digital art how it is today. It gives a notion of how art is experienced and aligned with open sources and sharing. The exhibit is something fun and different — it allows people to view art there and elsewhere, present and future.”

Fischer said that in the end, the art in “Designated Drivers” was meant to be spread around.

“We just wanted something cheap, easy to carry and easy to share — and this is what we made,” Fischer said.

Temporary Services also includes Half Letter Press, a publishing imprint and online store. Products, information and social media sites can be found at temporaryservices.org/served.