breathing room

I assembled 7 interwoven ideas in time and space. Each is timed differently and produces unique coincidences over the 3 days of installation, the longest piece being 40 minutes, then 25 minutes, 5 minutes and 3 minutes. The size and prominence isn’t necessarily an indicator of what the main thoughts are. Everything you see and hear is related, but marks a specific point in the development, like the research timeline being expressed at once. 

Through practice-based research I’ve been examining breath and its effects on the regulatory systems in our body. The practice of breath work as a specific, intentional breathing exercise has me thinking about the unintentional circumstances of our breath. Since last semester I have been working with the concept of reaching out, physically, and in the form of the “ask” and I started to consider self-disclosure and the act of sharing as it relates to the Polyvagal Theory; the science of feeling safe and the role of the nervous system. One of the basic concepts of breathwork is that more inhaled than exhaled breath energizes the body and more exhale than inhale is grounding. The act of speaking is essentially breathing out, so I’m experimenting with the effects different types of breath have, based on what is being said and the emotion behind the act of sharing these words. In this way, breath is the space between sentiments, where what we say lands and where we release control of our thoughts. What happens to us physically when we share our stories? I am interested as well in the concept of sharing as a way of dispelling shame, of any degree.  

From the concept of reaching out, physically, and in connecting with other people, sharing and vulnerability, I have identified that reaching my arms away from my body feels vulnerable, even more so when it’s directed to someone – where there is intention behind it and an ask associated. 

During my breathwork practice one day I identified what felt like the pendulum of reciprocity embedded in the cycles of breath: an anxious abundance at the top of the breath, and an excited desire at the bottom.

Thinking about the spaces between things, looking at the fractures and relations across space and time, I’ve been thinking about how stories progress and the relationships of two events next to each other in time. 

I’m interested in the different ways of seeing and the politics inherent in being “unfocused” as a state. Two of the videos I’ve created specifically favor an unfocused gaze, I theorize that when you aren’t focus on being able to see what an image is comprised of, in detail, you start seeing the space in between objects. I see lines and shapes being constructed around the content in these videos. Then, I overwhelmingly see waves and movement, based on the progressive scrolling of both videos – which almost forces a connection between theses lines and shapes that are emerging. The eternal scrolling and cycling of the ideas in the space intentionally point to cycles.  Coincidental events and chance elements (which are multiplied when audience members read the text aloud) interest me as an added layer to progression or as a development to the concepts themselves. Taking in the fractured ideas, separated in space, I wonder how the audience will relate things, the timing of the experience? Concept? Proximity?

PROCESS (if you must know)

(progressing chronologically)

Breath confessions:

I set up a camera and microphone and proceeded to record myself talking about my breakup. I shared memories and recounted the final events, focusing on my feelings of shame and regret. I was glad for the chance to purge of these thoughts quickly and candidly. I then removed every word I said in the editing process, looking for variances in the breath based on what I was recovering from and what I was about to disclose. This audio track came out of the main audio system in the RBC Media Gallery.

Emerging (larger video with hand reaching):

Filming with an extremely short focal length lens I wanted to highlight a clarity that is enabled solely through proximity. I enhanced this effect with a lighting setup that created a wall of intense light that would blow out everything that occurred from that point and beyond.

I played back my breath confessions on repeat and moved closer and further from the camera, prompted only by the way my own words were landing in my experience that day. My only physical expression was proximity to the camera and to play with the concept of reaching out – as in; literally towards the camera and figuratively in sharing my experiences as a means of connection with others. I became aware of how shame was manifesting in a desire to retract and disappear. I also found it interesting to note that the height I placed the camera, in order to capture the fullest extension of a reach, is also chest-height. I was happy that in the closest moments my breath could be detected in the rising and falling of my chest, but I really struggled with what felt like a focus on the female anatomy and I wondered how this would play into the passers-by feeling invited-in or confronted.

*to be completely honest (a phrase I used so, so many times to preface a shameful confession) I wondered if a part of me was somehow subconsciously willing things to not work because the time I spent sitting in the gallery inspired new ideas and helped me tweak things based on how it was all landing in the space. I also think knowing just how many people pass the gallery, I was trying to protect my work. Sitting in the space, working on things either afforded me a certain privacy from onlookers or the respect of fellow artists for the in-progress state I was communicating with my involvement.

Breath Waves: 

In editing out the words from my confessions, I had the idea to create phrasing only using breath. I took each isolated breath clip, condensed and rearranged it. For a fuller effect, I stacked, duplicated, shuffled and pulled apart all of these clips so the original order and pace was obscured and randomized in a looping series. It sounded like the multiplicity of waves crashing against jagged shores.

White Space:

I decided to type out everything I said in my confessions. As I scrolled through the pages of painful words I unfocused my eyes so that the words were indistinguishable but I could still make out the spaces between. It’s not the first time I’ve shifted my gaze upon a block of text to see shapes in the connected white space but this time it felt as though the shapes were made my the progressive scrolling in a fractured but related configuration. I screen-recorded this scrolling, distorted the text with a gaussian blur and shifted exposure, contrast and highlight settings. I rotated the footage to a track horizontally.

Breath Rain: 

Watching this creation, I saw the visual representation of these breaths as arriving, or landing, at simultaneous but distinct moments. As a juxtaposition, I wanted to use the space between the words, the breath I focused on in White Space, as the material defining the space around it in this video. I took a screen recording of the timeline playing and then rotated it to play vertically, with each clip descending. I inverted the colors to represent oxygenating blood in the blue within in the pink.

Somewhere Over: 

I chopped up a simple piano rendition of a popular classic song, one which was specifically recognizable by the first two notes. In practising mindfulness, I’ve become aware of how long it takes my mind to wander: anywhere from 7-30 seconds. I put that amount of time between each note, sometimes even more with a maximum of 2mins. How much time between two events negates causation? How do these two things have to relate in time to be considered a progression?

About Breath: 

I looked for fun facts about our breath and ordered them progress on the page from topical to philosophical. They were printed in landscape orientation on a piece of paper with the title “READ OUT LOUD.” I took all of the punctuation out and put it in the first person conversational, starting with the second person, so as to address the reader initially and get them to start thinking about themselves. As the audience reads, there is no indication as to where the breaks are so they end up having to hold off until they absolutely have to take a sharp breath in. The amount of time between inhale and exhale is extended whilst making the reader highly aware of their breath. The last sentiment by Tim Ingold so perfectly represents what I have been working with. That part was fate!

itsokaaay

“I didn’t do anything over the break” I confess, feeling guilty.

But it’s not true. I spent a full month healing. Processing emotions physically and deeply through meditation, breathwork, reading, discussion, and returning to my body. I’ve been working hard to create peace in my inner world and immediate environment. This exploration was born at the moment I reemerged from a far away-inside place. At the same time, sharing this feels embarrassing and personal and I think that has to do with the cringe-worthy experience of hearing your recorded voice.

I’ve been thinking a lot about time, patience and the necessity of slowing down. When we slow down we notice the parts of a whole, the details of what each thing is made up of.

(There is an element of reveal to this, so I’ll hold the explanation.)

By the time the true image and sentiment are clear so much more has taken place. The timing encourages an abandonment of the expectation of progression. It reminds me of the way I am learning to meditate, going off on a thought tangent and then being brought back to something that doesn’t feel like it matters until it has accumulated.

I used to sit in front of the tv as a kid and watch the static on the channels we didn’t get (I was an only child hard up for some entertainment). I would stare so long that I would see shapes moving within the static as the darker flecks connected and disconnected to make moving images. The complexity of the noise is in the the particular makeup observed the closer you get, which is infinitesimal, and helps to visually represent the detail within slowness. The slower something appears to you, the more time you have to take note of the contributing parts. Here, as I lay on my back, post yin yoga, post meditation, having barely returned from what feels like the edge of the universe, I can actually experience the vibrations in my own voice, the wavering efforts coming through the fractions of an articulated word. Sound in particular, seems to speed up when you slow it down and I attribute this to an ability to acknowledge all of these infinite parts involved.

Process:

I started by cutting the material so that there is an equal amounts of time with and without new information. I started with a one second intervals, which is about ⅓ of an inhale or exhale for me in a meditative state so it would feel jarring and it would take a while to put together the breath sounds. As I start editing, I find a repetitive pattern in my hand movements. I intuitively play and pause the material with an accuracy that shocks me, within 1 millisecond. I find a really enjoyable flow to this process based on muscle memory and intuitive timing rather than over-efforting the process by scrolling over the timeline and taking stabs at the 00 mark. I notice that this is how I usually edit and perhaps why I enjoy editing where some people may find it an arduous task. It feels like a road trip where the destination (final product) is only a part of the experience. The muscle memory and rhythm is satisfying.

**I’m also playing with a version where I incorporate the reverse-phi visual phenomenon into the liminal space between sound and visual, creating a sense of motion, making it seem like my face gets closer

360-3D Rooftop Experiments

I’ve been working with the Titan 360 camera towards questions about performativity in immersive virtual spaces. This is a tiny, behind-the-scenes clip of my experiments with All Bodies Dance Project shooting 360 video on a rooftop. The stitched video, ready for an Oculus headset will be done in the new year!

Gesture>Energy>Illumination

 My interest in speech has been refined to an observation of the modes of communication we employ as human beings. Engaging with people through craigslist; navigating preparations for fruitful exchanges and generating enthusiasm for the project without disclosing the research, provided an intensive exercise in procuring research participants and collaborators. Examining my own communication style while experimenting with the vocal expression in interviews with strangers became a visual exercise in touch designer where I created audio reactive procedures that distort the image with each word uttered. Most recently, presenting the series of on-camera introductions, silent talking heads, as an expression of light based on the movements expressed when speaking personally for my final crit gave me insight into the importance of the presentation of an idea, even as a work-in-progress.

I created a version to watch as a single-channel video, above, and below is the projected series of videos, displayed side-by-side so that similarities and differences can be seen simultaneously.

The day after our final crits, I projected my work in a larger scale and in the darkest space I could find and was able to create a more immersive experience with the variable lighting. What I found when the individual light-videos filled the room was that I was no longer looking to decipher the form which the light was creating on the wall as much as I was experiencing the rhythmic qualities and the texturing of the space. In a way, I was engulfed in the energetic exchange of the interview experience. The amount of information the interviewee was offering in the form of speech translated to the degree to which the space was illuminated, allowing me to see the environment more or less clearly. It makes me think about the process of speaking and how we provide non-visual information to either draw attention to our physical representation or diffuse it. Taking this project further, I might look at building an environment which the light video reveals through the communicated gestures translated as light. I also might look at ways of pulling the light expressions into three dimensional space…

Reaching out

The most vulnerable action is to reach. out. 

My shoulders carry everything but possess no real control. 

When I reach for something, I am risking life and limb. 
I am extending myself.

I might not grasp it. I could be rejected.
I am ultimately extending myself in hopes of connection.

I am reaching out to you. 

When trying to create content that shared

Grasping Touch Designer

I was interested in working with proximity to create the potential for participation and was originally looking at connecting an infrared camera, as a spatial sensor, to madmapper to create an instance for change in the projected visuals based on how close a person was to the projection. I also thought about using an Xbox Kinect, but found the neaat little Leap sensor which only detects hands. This felt oddly linked to my exploration of the reach gesture so I did a few tutorials and generated two interactive templates…

The finger trails change color based on the amount of time each fingertip remains in the same position in space, starting with red. The color diffuses slowly leaving traces of color that the follow the movement of both hands. The speed of movement affects the intensity of the color as well which I find is a nice way to demonstrate the amount of attention that is placed on the way the hands are moving rather than the generation of as much feedback as possible.

I don’t know what this is yet, but what I like about it is the perceptual-interactive element, specifically that it follows your lead and that you can control it but you cannot physically attain it, it cannot be grasped or felt. The fact that it can only be witnessed as a result of distorting the space visually means that it is represented by what it’s not. The object represented as a diamond gives is a precious quality, but it’s likeness is removed from any sense of a real, tangible object so we are able to meet it with more of an open mind in terms of it’s significance to us and the way we are meant to interact with it.

Working with the leap sensor and touch designer is an exploration of the self more than an exploration of technology. Interacting with the technology like this allows me to observe my own behaviour in a way that is removed from regular conclusions, associations and references. The pleasure I find in visually generated material that reacts with the movement of my hands is in finding the connection and being able to sustain a meaningful relationship with something that only operates on basic functions. The success of the interaction is being able to negotiate relevant feedback with a considerate approach. I equate this kind of negotiation with a distilled sense of care. The interaction is not very satisfying if you’re only interested in moving your hands around without any regard for whether or not the object is able to read your gesture. For a moment we slow down and consider what is needed from us. Watching that sensitivity evolve is really quite sweet.

Movement and Metaphor: the Eye

I’m interested in working with the theory that “visualizing” an activity works the same neural pathways as physically doing it. I want to see if I can manipulate the experience of visualizing (imagining) with video.

I want to explore video that affects, specifically the creation of digital, time-based, visual experiences that create an emotional or empathetic response, a sensation, or a subconscious effect – beyond that which could be created through narrative or typical cinematic devices.

I’ve started my exploration with a research on the movement of the eye, specifically how it tracks movement. I created this video using found (license free) footage, cropping out specific areas of action across the screen over time. I used a high contrast video with rapid, travelling movement and revealed small cubes of action for a split second. These cubes reveal themselves at random points in space that require constant scanning of the eye. Creating excitement as the action starts to reveal itself in incomplete moments.

I based my editing on the concept of saccadic eye movements. The saccade is the most basic function of the eye. Information detected in the periphery signals a rapid, jump-like eye movement to bring the item to the center of the field of view. Saccades are reactive to stimulus but they are ultimately voluntary actions (Roger P.G. van Gompel, et al. 101). The inability to control saccadic eye movement is linked to neurological conditions such as ADHD, tourettes, schizophrenia, Parkinson’s Disease and Huntington’s Disease and researchers are now studying the eyes to help with diagnosis.

For a contrasting experience to the first video, I created this video which reveals a fairly static scene through smooth, sequential reveals. The scene shows street lights illuminating the action at night, in slow motion, gently rotating over a system of freeways connect via cloverleaf overpasses. Showing this scene from above is meant to remove the viewer from any sense of active participation. While watching this video the eye is able to track vehicles moving along the highway, with plenty of lead room, towards a point where the attention can move along to another point to follow, all while the scene reveals itself gently in the peripheral.

Ad’s as Art for a week

I took screen shots of all the targeted advertisements I received over the course of one week. The images are mainly from instagram as it’s the only place I get target ad’s except for a few emails. My average is 3 pickups per day, for 3-5minutes. Each screen shot has been trimmed to be .25 of a second in duration in the below video and represents a screenshot usually taken from a 3 second video.

I’ve ordered the images chronologically, and then grouped them by themes in order of what I deemed to be increasingly subconscious marketing tactics. These ad’s seem to be centred around ideas I have expressed “interest” in some way during my social media browsing, lifestyle, representations of women’s bodies, and products to purchase. For me, it is in that order that I find myself becoming more suggestible.

Questions I am left with are, did I alter the process when taking screenshots? How would this feel if every ad was represented as the entire video? How would this experiment turn out in different geographic locations?

Environmint*

Matty and I went for a wander of thought at Jericho Beach. This is the first cut. It feels very rhizomatic in theme to me.

What is your first impression?

What is the lasting effect?

(As much as I have ideas for the final product, I am not looking to work the same way in every project so I am actively seeking a novel “next step”)

Bringing things home

This weekend I rented a projector and had high hopes of projection-mapping areas of my home in a very specific way. Issues to overcome were: the size of the spaces vs. the projection length vs. my ability to bike home with gear vs. the demo version of mad mapper.

All this considered I did have a great time exploring my own home as a site for addressing all the issues that I usually leave outside of my homelife, and especially my bedroom.

The editing I’ve done in this video is for the viewer, as I aim to share my experience being situated in this environment and attempt to chop out the ceaseless watermark of the deadly demo.

The first environment is the bathtub. For prime viewing you may want to bump up the brightness on your screen and watch this away from windows with sunshine. Rather than mapping the structure of the inside of the tub, I’ve projected the videos across the top so that it looks and feels more like the surface of the water. I’ve filled the bathtub with two alternating videos, the first is a series of waves of numbers, from VLT machine. The way the numbers appear to be random but are mathematically sequenced reminds me of the occurrence of waves on the ocean. If I am ever on rough water I count every 7th wave because someone told me a long time ago that every 7th wave is the worst. The second is a circuit board animated by an electric current which flows like a droplet of water rippling out. There’s something interesting to me about rendering events down to the most poignant moment, or most succinct representation, through video and that pairs well with contemplating water, as an element, within the confines of a bathtub.

The second surface you are taking in is my toilet! Landfills, cigarettes and broken smartphones and the best images I can use to describe waste. I would love to generate a video showing scrolls of emotional bids descending into the bowl, like the messages I’ve sent that are left un-answered and likewise the messages that I’ve neglected.

Finally the bedroom, which was a little disappointing. The neat little projector I was using just couldn’t cover the amount of ground I had hoped. I sourced footage that represents everything that keeps me up at night and mapped it onto the surfaces nearest to me when I sleep. I had hoped this environment would be the grand finale, but I’ll have to use more than one projector and make sure it’s a short throw. I may need to relocate my bedroom too. That shouldn’t be too much work, right?