Angela Bulloch’s work takes many forms, but all manifest her interest in systems, patterns and rules, and the creative territory between mathematics and aesthetics.
‘Pixel Boxes’ have become her most familiar component: fabricated modular systems, primarily cubes, with plastic front screens that softly change and pulse between colors. These programmable illuminated boxes contain three fluorescent tubes capable of creating all 16 million colors of a standard computer screen. Bulloch has insisted that she is not interested in technology for its own sake, but rather the ways in which people ‘interface’ with it and ‘what psychological effect this has’ (Bulloch in Bussel 1997, p.34).
Many of Bulloch’s works are interactive in the sense that her patterns are controlled by the noises surrounding the works, such as visitors walking and talking.
‘The viewer is a collaborator in the sense that she defines, perceives the meaning in her own terms. This would happen anyway with any work, provided there is a viewer. What I try to do is make the fact of interpretation, understanding or perceiving part of purpose of the work itself.’
(Bulloch in Bussel 1997, p.31.)
Bulloch also makes ‘Drawing Machines’, which produce vertical or horizontal lines directly on the gallery wall. In this case, the lines drawn change rhythm according to sounds produced by visitors.
In Bulloch’s interactive works, pattern is to an extent unpredictable, ultimately determined by the random actions of visitors, who themselves have no choice but to ‘interact’ with the work.
‘one’s individual choices are more or less meaningless, because the system or structure has already defined the parameters of choice, even if they seem elective … The viewer is already framed within the work, whether one likes it or not’
(Bulloch in Bussel 1997, p.31).
Patterns and sequences can obviously be identified as a key part of these works, just by viewing the work itself, without any external information. The works speak for themselves.