For You...and anyone else who might be watching (1)
I knew the general idea behind the project that Sandrine was interested in pursuing – they would use surveillance cameras as a way of illumining concepts around the digitally mediated body and archiving experience. It seemed like a natural extension of their Being(small) project, which investigate how the body fits into different spaces both corporeally and conceptually.
I was invited to a private performance that would take place via a website that hosted a live streaming surveillance camera. I was given a time to be at the site and asked to take periodic screen captures as a way of documenting the piece as it unfolded. The camera was pointed at a small cul-de-sac on the Northeastern University campus called Krentzman Quad.
At 4:25pm an orange figured appeared in the bottom left quadrant of the screen and stood motionless for a few minutes. I was actively anticipating what would come next, and bouncing between questions of meaning to openly experience the work without projecting onto it. In these first moments it became clear that I was no longer just waiting for something to begin. I had entered the art zone.
Typically, when viewing a live art piece favor is put on the artists body and actions and supported by the incidental elements of the space the artists is in i.e. local sounds, architecture, smell etc. However, in this case Sandrine has struck a compelling balance between the physical locale they were in with the digitally mediated version of that same location. This dialectic made me feel I felt like my mind was being pulled through the screen to another place while at the same time I was aware of the fixed location of my body. This multi-local art experience collapsed my perception of space (Qualia – an example of how our own perception is delayed).
At 4:28pm the orange figure had its arms raised above its head as if to be reaching. There was a nice consistency to the duration of positions held by the orange figure, which was in contrast to the motion of those who passed by. The camera captured numerous individuals and clusters of people who passed through the quad. It was not a fluid video image, but rather a jumpy and pixilated video. It reminded me of old Nintendo games. The still orange figure was anchor in this otherwise busy world of blipping people.
The next position was the arms held straight out to the side and parallel to the ground. At this point, I became more aware of the content on the screen that was housing the video. The stillness and duration of the previous positions that the figure held gave me the confidence to look around without the fear of missing something. I began to look at my computer screen, and the background information about the Quad that was presented on the website. I realized that there were innumerable possibilities to utilize this framework to augment or complicate the experience of the art and its content. In this case the direct correlation between the content on the screen, the location I happened to be in and the activities of the mysterious orange figure was elusive.
Another visual element that become of interest was towards the end of the piece. The arms of the orange figured were placed against the body in the same position as when it started and gradually the video image started transforming. The sidewalk lamps in the video were brighter, and the image was loosing color. Eventually, the whole screen was grey and the orange figure, once so obvious, was blended into the surroundings. A few moments later the figure blipped out like the other pixilated peoples and disappeared.
- Daniel S. DeLuca