0.6 Full Circle

 

On August 3, 2011, my daughter Joy was born. Seeing her develop an awareness of her environment, while I am simultaneously developing my thesis, teaches me to be more aware than I could ever learn to be on my own. It is astonishing to see how she interacts everyday with her environment, and I try to look at my environment with the same newfound curiosity and bewilderment, and apply it to my work. Full Circle, juxtaposes my self-made, childhood home videos and my daughter’s in utero ultrasound images. Through manipulation of speed and rotation, the two forms are a representation of life’s cycle through the past, present and future, merging together in a dream-like experience.

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2.4 Color-aid Cut-up

 

Indeterminacy
Color-aid Cut-up, is a stop-motion video that uses Color-aid paper, an excerpt of Gertrude Stein’s avant-garde poem, Tender Buttons and the pianist, Alexander Scriabin’s musical composition, Sonata No. 8, Op. 66. The form is developed by printing each word of the poem on a separate sheet of paper, and then thinly slicing the sheets into small strips to represent piano keys. Using an algorithm to recombine the poem—slice-by-slice and colored sheet on top of colored sheet, I shoot each placement of the paper separately to create an animation of the poem in motion. Once I finish constructing the poem and stack all the colored paper, I deconstruct the slices, and shoot each move of that process. The deconstruction allows for a random chance of the colors to shift and the slices to move. There is an indeterminate outcome to this process; it is not until I extract the still images and recombine them into a film sequence that I can see the new rhythm and pattern. There were over 3,000 frames shot for this minute and a half video.

Light blue and the same red with purple makes a change. It shows that there is no mistake. Any pink shows that and very likely it is reasonable. — Gertrude Stein, Tender Buttons, 1914

Openness
In The Open Work, philosopher Umberto Eco outlines indeterminacy, rhythm, expectation, prediction, open structures and play, mostly in terms of musical composition. Eco describes, “…the listener expects that the process will reach its conclusion according to certain symmetry, and that it will organize itself in the best possible way, in harmony with the psychological models that Gestalt theory has discerned in both our psychological structures and external objects.” In other words, Eco equates rhythm and repetition to determine outcomes. When people hear rhythm, they develop expectations of how a song will proceed and even end. Eco asserts, “…an open structure is less a prediction of the expected than an expectation of the unpredictable.” Eco goes on to discuss information theory and entropy, which is a measure of the uncertainty associated with a random variable. These examples and theoretical models are key components in much of my work. Pattern and repetition along with random variables play an important role in any form I am creating.

Home Studio, Boston, MA

2.6 Twenty-Four Hour Tourist

 

Heterotopia
In an essay by novelist Alan Lightman, he describes one of Einstein’s dreams as “a place where time stands still: the place where we idealize life like a photograph,” capturing a perfect moment. Philosopher Michel Foucault describes, “A heterotopia or space of otherness, which are neither here nor there, that are simultaneously physical and mental, such as the space of a phone call or the moment when you see yourself in the mirror.” The irony is that in that heterotopia, where time stands still, there is no life. Lightman describes time traveling outward in rotating concentric circles, resting at the center. The things that are the closest to the center of time move at a glacial pace, picking up speed in greater diameters towards the outer rings. Present life only exists in the outer rings, where things are moving fast and uncontrollable.

In Twenty-Four Hour Tourist I examine this concept of time standing still in an autobiographical and nostalgic way. Through three-dimensional typography, I visualize
the concentric rings of time, starting in 1977, the year I was born, and moving outward to the present day. In contrast to the typography, I juxtapose self-made childhood home videos to represent memories of a place where time stands still in my mind. The footage shows clips of a family vacation taken in Hawaii in 1992. The image of a surfer represents a place where time stands still. The surfer riding a wave is a metaphor for trying to capture and hold onto something that is ephemeral. Just as the video almost stops and fades to black, the viewer is quickly pulled back to the high speed pace of life that exists on the outer rings.

2.15 Panopticon of Joy

Elevation, section and plan of Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon, drawn by Willey Reveley, 1791

False Security
In Discipline and Punish, philosopher Michel Foucault builds on philosopher Jeremy Bentham’s conceptualization of a panopticon as he elaborates upon the function of disciplinary mechanisms in the prison, while illustrating the function of discipline as an apparatus of power. The “panoptic” style of architecture may be used in other institutions with surveillance needs such as schools, factories or hospitals. The ever-visible inmate, Foucault suggests, is always “…the object of information, never a subject in communication.” As hinted at by the architecture, this panoptic design can be used for any “population” that needs to be kept under observation or control, such as prisoners, schoolchildren, medical patients or workers.

Panopticon of Joy Camera Set Up 1–7 Top View

With all the documentary and time-lapse work I have been developing, many people have mentioned they think I am using surveillance techniques to capture my subject matter. I don’t consider that my work uses surveillance as a tactic, but I can understand that misinterpretation. In Panopticon of Joy, I undertake a tongue-in-cheek experiment that makes me realize that no matter how many cameras I put on my daughter Joy, I have no power or control, just a false sense of security.

Panopticon of Joy, 2012, Video Stills

Panopticon of Joy uses seven different cameras to document Joy’s behavior and displays the footage in an interactive split screen application. Within the application the user is able to select the camera view options and manipulate the speed as well as forward and reverse the file. The user may feel like he has control over the videos, but soon realizes that controlling the cameras speed and direction of the video is fruitless.

traveling

 

I am. They are. We are. Traveling.

Inspired by my daily commute from Boston to Providence via MBTA commuter rail during my first semester at the Rhode Island School of Design.

Course: The Urgent Vignette
Instructor: Cavan Huang
Fall Semester: December 2010

Medium:
Video, Kinetic Typography, still photos, all footage shot with Canon 7D, and edited in Adobe After Effects

A huge thank you to David Ricard for providing the original music davidricard.com