Perhaps I am a glutton for…productivity (as opposed to punishment), but I would like to announce that I have now signed on to a second internship, and a pretty sweet one at that. Last week, I sent an email out into the ether in response to a perfect-sounding video-streaming/new media/networking/psychogeographic-sounding internship call, and was pleasantly surprised to hear back on the same day with an offer to be taken onto the project. So last evening, I met Andrew Demirjian at Rags-a-Go-Go, an awesome vintage shop on west 14th street, where part of Andrew’s latest video installation piece, Scenes From Last Week, is just getting set up. The set-up is pair of video streams in opposing store-fronts, which record and play back in real time, but also play back the synced footage from previous days. As days pass, the installation goes from being simply paired shots of today/yesterday to arrays of 4 or 6 or more days, inviting passersby to glimpse the past and notice patterns in the daily life of two sections of urban space in Chelsea. Andrew has also put out a call to performance artists or anyone interested in being featured to engage the repetitive nature of the media by returning daily and performing for the camera, or sharing a series of words, or whatever might strike one’s fancy — the project is very much about the social engagement and reaction of its viewers and participants, the interaction between past(s) and present, as well as the patterns of the urban setting and the interaction of the physical and psychological aspects of our environment. It is very much, I think, a form of psychogeography that keeps the psychogeographer as a practitioner of stationary surveillance, getting momentary glimpses into a sort of always on-going but unrecognized psychogeography of the collective commuting community of Chelsea.
A previous incarnation of the current installation, from the perspective of the camera watching people watching themselves in real-time.
Andrew’s current work and interests seem to align pretty perfectly with mine, and also with the summer projects and obsessions that I already have going: documentary/non-fiction film, psychogeography/algorithmic art production that engages the urban space. From the sound of it, I will be fairly involved in helping him create a second installation at Eyebeam, where he is an artist-in-residence, from the footage gathered by the current installation — this installation will deal more directly with Andrew’s main research there, which is in exploring the viability of algorithmically-edited non-fiction film as an interesting alternative to standard narrative approaches to filmmaking. We will be experimenting with different ways to combine the footage, and to take this vast database of days and days of recorded sidewalk happenings to create patterned combinations of footage, drawing on Andrew’s interest in the rhythms of music and perhaps my interest in the syllabic patterning of structured poetic forms such as haiku or the Shakespearian sonnet.
Basically, I am incredibly stoked about this internship, although it really seems more like a cross between an artistic partnership and a private independent study, with Andrew even offering to give me some articles on new media by Lev Manovich to read, in response to which I enthusiastically told him that “I dig theory!” (And having already read a little of Manovich’s work, I definitely don’t mind getting some reading assigned — it’s really fascinating stuff on databases and surveillance and modern incarnations of Foucault’s panopticon and whatnot.) More and more I am realizing that I want to marry my love for film with my broader artistic and academic interests in psychogeography, and more and more I am realizing that within film, what I really love making is non-fiction: documentary, experimental, non-narrative, what-have-you. Doing so algorithmically is almost like engaging in a psychogeographic exploration of the filmic medium and a given set of footage, which is totally cool, and perhaps exactly the sort of direction I’ve been looking for. I think I said it recently, but it’s no less true: Living the dream. Living the dream.
The official opening reception for Andrew’s installation is this Friday, July 15th, at 218 W 14th St (Rags-a-Go-Go in Chelsea) from 6 pm to 8 pm, and the installation will run from July 15th to August 15th. If you happen to be in the Big Apple this weekend (or in the next month!), come check it out! I’ll be there taking documentary footage, like I do. Quite probably WITH A CANON 7D! O___O