Delicate Balance allows a Siamese fighting fish to determine the movement and direction along a stainless-steel wire.
While balancing, it can explore its environment beyond the limits of the tank. Why a Siamese Fighting fish on a wire?
Well as an apparent reference to the challenges that fish and other living creatures are experiencing in trying to sustain themselves on a planet overwhelmed by human habitation.
Siamese Fighting fish were chosen in particular given their aggressive inbreeding for purposes of beauty and, sadly, fighting as well as the fact they are top breathers and come up for air.
Bettas have excellent sight, allowing them to see far outside the tank.
I wanted to give this Betta Splendons (Siamese fighting fish) the ability to virtually leave the tank by moving it back and forth along the wire and this interspecies artwork gave them control to explore their environment.
The water is heated to the natural comfort level of the fish, a tropical 78-80 degrees Fahrenheit. The fish determines the direction by crossing a break – beam which activates the motor to move the tank in the direction the fish looks to the outside world.
A mounted rearview mirror on a tower at one end of the tightwire allows the fish to look at himself and contemplate himself and “others.”
Does the fish recognize his image or think it is an opposing male? I believe it may realize its image as passing the mirror test. However, that will take more research. At this point, the fish flares its gills, indicating it believes it is looking at an opposing male Siamese Fighting Fish.
While the fish can move on the tightwire back and forth, this is not a choice at all. It is a polemical space, a tight wire balancing act that speaks to a delicate environmental balance in danger.
Can we feel the delicate beauty of this living being and acknowledge its right to exist, and show sensitivity to its right to some unmitigated self-determination?
The questions begun in this project led to the Augmented Fish Reality, the second fish drive project created on the planet, which premiered in 2003 at The Ohio State University.
UKRAINIAN INSTITUTE OF MODERN ART, Chicago, Illinois. May 1999
Second Nature Exhibition curated by Paul Hertz. Displayed Delicate Balance, robotic fish tank.
HOPKINS HALL GALLERY, OHIO STATEColumbus, Ohio. Sep. 1998
New Works Faculty Exhibition. Displayed Delicate Balance, Genetic Blueprint, and Message Slough from the Dis-M-Body exhibition.
NORTHERN ILLINOIS UNIV. ART MUSEUM Chicago, Illinois.Sep.1997 Inter-Penetration Exhibition curated by Julie Charmelo. Displayed Delicate Balance robotic fish tank.
BLASTHAUS GALLERY, San Francisco, California. Sep. 1995 Tech-BashExhibition curated by William Linn. Displayed Meter Devils Heart and delicate Balance.
V2 DUTCH ELECTRONICA ART FESTIVAL Rotterdam, Holland. Nov. 1995
Interface 95 Exhibition curated by Alex Adriaansens. Displayed Delicate Balance and The Flock, interactive robotic sculptures.