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Catherine Richards

Method and Apparatus for Finding Love, 2000

Catherine Richards, Method and Apparatus for Finding Love, 2000
In science and technology, patents gain researchers respect and validate their intensive efforts to create something new and unique. Their patent is a symbol of their achievement and proof of their contribution to society. Given the current state of affairs in technology-based arts, it is not unheard of for artists to seek patents for the devices they create and even to commercialize their applications. David Rokeby's Very Nervous System and more recent software by Netochka Nezvanova and Golan Levin are a few examples. But the patent system requires the author to address science rather than art, and fact rather than emotion. One of Catherine Richard's latest artworks defies both these cardinal rules of applying for a patent. Method and Apparatus for Finding Love (2000) is an attempt to question and use the patent system in the hopes of creating a technologically complex device for finding love.

This piece was included in Excitable Tissues, an exhibition of Richards's recent work held at the Ottawa Art Gallery from September 14 to November 19, 2000. To experience the piece, visitors were obliged to sign a non-disclosure agreement before being allowed into the installation. Once inside, they encountered four shelves displaying copies of the patent application written by Richards and Martin Snelgrove.

Martin Snelgrove, a professor in the electronics department at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, collaborated with Richards on the patent application. A chemical and electrical engineer, Snelgrove holds the OCRI/NSERC industrial research chair in high-speed integrated circuits at Carleton.

Snelgrove and Richards worked with a patent lawyer to finalize a draft and submit the application in the summer of 2001. The application process, which could take several months or even years to complete, will be documented and become part of the piece. Richards is also exploring ways to produce the actual device while artist-in-residence at Canada's National Research Council.

Method and Apparatus for Finding Love was shown at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts from September 20 to December 9, 2007, for the exhibition e-art: New Technologies and Contemporary Art, Ten Years of Accomplishments by the Daniel Langlois Foundation.

Angela Plohman © 2002 FDL