Artist Statement (please scroll down for links)
My interest lies not within creating mythological or fantasy realms; rather, I am concerned with depicting notions of truth and rendering previously unperceived invisible phenomena visible, while drawing attention to the subtle nuances of communication and perception. The physical manifestation of my work is a combination of conceptual, performance and installation art.
In 1971, I created
"Disintegration and Re-creation of Objects within a Sequential Time Period" (1). I was still very interested in sculptural issues and issues of time. I choose to engage the viewer as a galvanized participant where installation becomes the stage and s/he an actor. In this way, the audience actually mentally and physically plays a dynamic role in the completion of the work. The work itself progressed from a focus on the audience interaction with the physical object (documented with video) to the disintegration of the object and presentation of the memory of that interaction. It concluded with a closed-circuit video work which acted as a reaffirmation of the physical existence of the viewer in the present, but also as a reminder of its transitory nature. The resulting output was as diverse as the individuals who partook, the dynamics between them and the way they choose to engage with the work. Closed-circuit video first became the focus of my work in 1972-3 with
"camera as audience only performances watching monitor" (2). I was very interested in utilizing it as a means to explore various aspects of human interaction. The work can be best understood as a combination of performance and installation with a ceremonial/ritual/magical blend, rather than aesthetic and decorative. The exciting results led me to want to dive deeper into the realms of depicting unconscious levels of communication. So in 1974 I created
"BrainWaveDrawing LA" (3). With my brainwave projects, ultimately, I am a cartographer, gathering data, recording it and rendering it accessible to the audience in a visual form. It is a voyage through the mind. The success of this project led me to continue this line of study with
"Video Telemetry Environment" in 1975 (4). Somehow, these experiments reawakened the sculptural issues in me and deepened my interest in physical space. I became interested in regularly engaging an audience beyond the confines of the gallery. This combination of thinking in tandem about how relationships develop in real time with technology bridging physical space manifested itself in
"Videophone Voyeur" (5). The work was shown three times in three separate locations, twice
in London (7) and once
in Manchester (6), and evolved with each installation-based viewers' interaction with the work. The trilogy concluded in 1978 where the communications from the previous two installations became an integral part of the piece. As the work progressed, I felt an increasing disconnection and took a more passive voyeuristic role, offering more and more of the stage to the audience. "Videophone Voyeur" left me with the desire to take a more active role in the direction of the content of the work.
"Up Against the Wall Camera as Gun" (8) I recast myself in the role of the performer and dressed in a police uniform instructing the now passive audience. Closed-circuit Video became a tool for inward investigation rather then interpersonal communication. In the following two years, my inward investigation continued with
" Hey! Baby, Chickey!" to "Chicken Pieces" (9). These works depended on my watching the image on the closed-circuit monitor, which were the audience and frame respectively. In 1980, I decided to take what I had learned through my intimate relations with closed-circuit work and invite the audience back into the mix. With
"In the Window/Out the Window" (10) two parallel closed-circuit systems were installed inside the front window, and directly outside the window on the sidewalk. Artists interviewed each other about their work for 15 minutes each. They faced the monitor in front of them that displayed the image of the other. I once again left the role of performer and let the work take on a life of its own. In 1981 with "Six Moving Cameras, Six Converging Views" I completely exited the stage once again; it had not been since "Disintegration and Re-creation of Objects within a Sequential Time Period" that I had completely left the frame. Three pairs of closed-circuit cameras were mounted on a structure. In the first setup in the center of the frame were three monitors stacked on top of each other, each displaying corresponding split screen images of the cameras views, including the World Trade Center towers. A closed-circuit monitor displaying partial windows of all six images could be seen as soon as you entered. It was also set up twice in
NY (11), once in
"1981" (12) and once in
"1982" (13). Through
"Exhumed" (14) in 1990 I once again reĪntered the picture as I invited the audience to take on a passive voyeuristic role in my exploration of loss.
"Left Brain, Right Brain: Investigation of the Creative Process or 25 Pounds of Clay" (15) of 1991 demonstrates a reaching back out for the other using closed-circuit video as a catalyst for that motion.
Art involved with the manipulation of digital technologies, and most certainly closed-circuit video, holds a certain stigma in our culture. This most likely arises from how we encounter this medium in our daily lives, in the workplace and other public places, which gives us the sense of reducing our feelings of "private" space. I work with closed-circuit video on four primary levels. I originally began to work with closed-circuit video in a more traditional sense as a documentary medium and then in a gallery space, where I use the camera to "frame" or direct the attention of the audience to subtle nuances in time, space and interaction. When I work on a personal level (where I am basically in a dialogue with myself) I am a performer, and the medium functions as a sort of aid in "mind's eye surveillance" and as a healing tool. When dealing with an audience as physical participants, I wish to help them explore and cultivate positive and creative dynamics. In these projects I see myself as a facilitator or vehicle. Although I use closed-circuit video and computer technologies as my primary medium, I am not concerned with their function beyond their ability to aid me in realizing my vision.
I am often perceived as having as much in common with the traditional perceptions of scientists as artists. I believe that what links the scientist to the artist is the search for truth, and where we differ is in why we seek information and experience. I am in the question-asking game, not the question-answering job. Forming this approach aids me in deepening my understanding of myself and my environment. For thirty years I have been using closed-circuit video to ask questions about exploring perceptions of the self, interaction with the other, and how technology can be used to augment, record and reveal these processes. With the completion of each project, I find myself asking more questions. What is seeing? What is perceiving? Where do I begin and you end? What is between us? How can we deal with this space? I am watching you! Can you see me? I am reaching out for you-will you respond to me? You are reaching out for me-will I answer you? Who is the audience for art? Is this a stage? Are we actors? What happens when "intimate space" becomes public space? Can public space become intimate? Is technology bringing us closer or further apart? Can the machine become an extension of me? Can we still be together in different locations? Will the Internet let us transcend time and space? What would it look like if we were thinking together?
I am interested in exploring notions of transformation, energy transfer, bridging the conscious and unconscious realms, and rendering the invisible visible through action and reaction. The results manifest themselves either as an action or object, and continue to live through extensive documentation. I see my life's work as a series of explorations, where the data gathered is the fertilizer for a new crop of ingredients to develop, contemplate and play with. I play with the notion of playing. I see the processes of creation as an integral part of the work, as important as the result.
"You can see our mind as a sensory organ that perceives forms in the mental plane. It is a sensory organ that orders the many other perceptions that we receive and that continuously abstracts from the primary impressions and from primary abstractions on the objective, unspeakable, levels so that we can function in our environment." --anonymous
"BrainWave Drawing" (16) was benchmark piece. A closed-circuit monitor inside the front window of the gallery in the South Bronx displays two people communicating via their brainwaves as they watch their physical image dissolve with their mental communication. People on the street and in the gallery could see this. This is the first time that all the questions (physical space inside and out of the gallery, the communication between the two participants, charting the brainwaves and a passive audience) came together.
Suddenly, the Internet became a possibility allowing me a means to transcend physical space and broaden my palette. I was eager to explore the possibilities of going remote. A floodgate of possibilities opened and the first step was
"ArTisTheater Streaming Performances" (17). I was so thrilled with the results that I decided it was time to take it out of the gallery and to the streets in
"Alice Sat Here" (18). Alice created a dynamic node inviting virtual participants. These experiments continued with
"Blast Installation Sandra Gerring Gallery" (19) streaming the Art World on to the Web and
"Touch NYU/MIT NY/Boston" (20). In 1999, the process became more insular again.
"Connecting the Dots Banff" (21) and
"Web SČance NY/Banff'Web SČance NY/Banff Closed-circuit" (22) marked the first time that I directed the actual thoughts of the audience.
Closed-circuit video has been the catalyst in my exploration-inward and outward, physical and mental-for exploring dynamics between the self and the other, acknowledging the audience as active participants in the work, and the world as my stage.
Closed circuit video has been the catalyst in my exploration inward, outward, physical and mental, for exploring dynamics between the self, and the other acknowledging the audience as active participants in the work, and the world as my stage.