Tammy Knipp

Mail Barcode in the Key of Bb

On view: January 3 - February 14, 2015 
Artist Talk: Friday, January 23, 11am

Curriculum Vitae
Artist Statement

My work explores the computational patterns and information-processing strategies of individuals with autism spectrum disorder. As for me, the act of comprehending is to translate spoken and written words into pictures. From an artistic perspective, I translate these visuals to rhythmic sound tracks. My recent project was converting the bar codes on postal mail to musical notations.

Researching the development of bar codes, I discovered that the coded system used by the United States Postal Service was termed the Intelligent Mail Barcode (IM Barcode). The phrase “Intelligent Mail” is a descriptor similar to “smart phone” and “3-D smart TV.” These terms seem to imply a superior civilization, functioning by way of coded languages.

IM Barcode utilizes sixty-five vertical bars in four varying heights, distinguished as Full, Tracker, Ascender and Descender. The visual structure of these vertical bars can be seen as a rhythmic value of musical notes arranged on a grand staff. When I observed three Tracker bars (the shortest vertical line), I visually conceptualized a musical notation of triplets. I interpreted the sound of the Full bar as a whole note (the longest of the vertical lines) and the Ascender and Descender bars as half notes with upward and downward stems.

tammy knipp exhibition at Arts on Douglas | alt_spaceFor the past two years, I have been constructing a database of bar codes. I began translating a series of sixty-five vertical bars to rhythmic audio “bits” of information using a system of cognitive processing based on image association. In the spring of 2013, I collaborated with a musician and composed a soundtrack corresponding to an IM Barcode, a project titled “Musical Landscape of Intelligent Mail.” Mounted vertically on a wall were sixty-five black bars constructed from wood. The twenty-three-foot wall display was a proportional representation of the IM Barcode. (I have included in my application images of this installation and an audio file of the musical score.)

My goal is to expand the “Musical Landscape of Intelligent Mail” project to include three additional IM Barcode displays with corollary musical compositions from different genres: Caribbean and Latin American; African; and a Blues/Jazz composition. This installation welcomes a multicultural community, united by directly encoding/decoding reality through image and sound, independent of a particular language. 

Artist Biography

Tammy Knipp received an M.F.A. in Image Making & Digital Arts from University of Maryland, Baltimore, MD and a M.F.A. in sculpture and 3-D installation from Washington University, St. Louis, MO. She has been included in several international and national juried exhibitions including SIGGRAPH; ISEA; ARS Electronica. She has presented several papers at numerous conferences including Eurographics, Milano, Italy and Informatics, Paris, France. Her projects have been published by IEE Computer Society; Eurographics Association and featured in Leonardo. She has received numerous awards including the South Florida Cultural Consortium Fellowship and was nominated for the Rockefeller Foundation New Media Fellowship 2003. Knipp is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Visual Arts & Art History at Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, FL.

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