This piece began on the southeastern coast of Iceland, on a volcanic black sand beach strewn with melting chunks of glacier.
The original footage is slowed far past an “acceptable” frame rate. At such a slow speed, the algorithms that interpolate between frames begin to reveal themselves, causing a rhythmic judder between moments of smooth motion as they guess at what’s happening in the empty space between two images.
The soundtrack is generated in part by a sonification of visual movement within that artificial space.
Sympathetic vibration is the phenomenon of one object vibrating in response to a nearby wave. The typical examples are a resonating guitar string, an opera singer shattering a glass, or the Tacoma Narrows Bridge flying apart in the wind. But what about when a human body is the resonant cavity?
Each of these panels filters the video at a frequency which corresponds to an oscillation in the human body – rhythms like those of the breath, heart rate, nerve responses, or neural oscillations. These rhythms bind us to each other and to the world in which we live, yet we understand so little of how they harmonize, clash, amplify, or mute each other.
This little project (physically little: it's only 1.5" x 6") is a test for a larger body of work examining the power dynamics that influence our relationship with the habitat in which we live. There's harmony and symbiotic support in the relationship for sure, but we also consistently reveal toxic strands of hubris, parasitic growth, and assumed ownership. The LEDs embedded deep within the core of this tiny chunk of driftwood emit a soft glow, oscillating quietly between daylight white, blood red, and occasionally a high-tech blue or melancholy purple.
This installation is an immersive room-size composition in video, optical glass, and music. One wall holds a massive, rear-projected video of a sublime and unstable seascape, blinking on and off with a warm, artificial thump. The other three walls hold five wooden shelves, each with one or two glass objects sunken into a slab of cement. An embedded video screen in each shelf fills the glass objects with a collage of original and archival family footage. Each glass/video/cement shelf is choreographed with one instrument in the four-channel surround soundtrack. In the room, the sound of each instrument is spatially linked to the position of its corresponding glass object. The composition loops every six minutes.
"Unfamiliar" was inspired by the uncanny terrain of memory and its relationship to focus and presence. The video uses three generations of family recordings and barely-moving footage of the natural world to get at the strangeness of what we choose to remember and the feeling of close focus, attentive listening, and total presence in wilderness exploration.
Hephaestus was responsible for all kinds of automata, or self-moving objects. They ranged from golden dogs that bite to the bronze eagle that chewed on Prometheus to human statues that feel. One of his more cryptic works, though, was a set of “twenty tripods which … of their own motion could wheel into the immortal gathering*.” These objects live in the borderlands between animate and inanimate, utilitarian and divine, natural and artificial.
*Homer, Iliad 18. 136 ff (trans. Lattimore)
“For A Moment” is a three-part narrative in computational writing, prose, and poetry. As a whole, the book charts the process of parsing out meaning from the chaos of lived experience. The first section is an algorithmic scrambling of the second section, moving from total noise (individual letters) to total clarity (full sentences and paragraphs). The second section is a vaguely autobiographical re-reading of nearly a decade of my pocket notebooks. The third and final section uses the text from those notebooks to distill the prose into poetry, tapering off into emptiness at the end.
An interactive web version is in the works...
This video is an excerpt from a live, improvisational video manipulation – the work is nonlinear and has repeating elements but is not a fixed loop; this shifting, unstable form seemed the only way to address the atmosphere in New York City after the 2016 presidential election. I drew source material from footage of the civil rights riots of the 1960's, contemporary stock footage, and original underwater videography.
This is a maquette for a series of public sculptures, using a video projection technique I developed for the theater. The sculptures use solar power, muscle wire, and flexible acrylic mirrors to transform otherwise blank urban walls into projection screens for abstract solar dances.
I was in Beverly Hills – an isolating and inhuman place – and I wanted to document the malaise and disconnect from reality that permeates that whole neighborhood. The video is a recording of a live performance, in which a musical score re-humanizes 3d scans of mannequins in a prop store.
This piece looks at the end of our short-lived relationship with the world we inhabit. The driftwood, copper, steel, and electronic structure is the transmission medium for a series of breakup letters to humans, spoken from the Earth’s perspective. Each of the copper plates is a bone conductor speaker, a unique kind of speaker that is audible only if it’s pressed against the skull. Each voice carries a different part of the same loop, staggered in time so that listening to each part of the sculpture means hearing a different section of the letters. The text is original, voiced by me and Naomi Krupitsky Wernham. A stereo mix of the audio is here – this is two of the voices simultaneously, so listen to one ear then the other unless you want a hard-panned stereo wash =)
Powered by solar energy, the Bellflower is a kinetic musical sculpture installed in NYU’s Carlyle Court in the summer of 2013. The sculpture opens and closes autonomously throughout the day, and while it’s open plays aleatory music on a set of five orchestral brass chimes. The musicality of the sculpture changes based on time, light, and weather, shifting melody, harmony, and pacing in response to the local microclimate. The fabrication was funded by NYU's Green Grant program, and was the first artistic project to be funded by the program. This project was a collaboration with Dylan Butman, with help from Christy Spackman and Gabriella Levine. Special thanks to Dave Seaward and the NYU Green Grant program for their generous support and funding.
“One to Hold, One to Echo” centers around two glass vessels I made by hand, a faceted dome and half-toroid bowl. Each vessel was partially silvered on the internal surface, interacting with the projection mapped video in different ways. The faceted dome refracted its video, echoing fragments of video throughout the space. The toroidal bowl, crafted to hold memories instead of fracturing them, gathers the video into a single point on the ceiling before fanning it out again in reverse. The audiovisual material is all found footage from old family videos, played and manipulated in real time.
Head to instructables for a behind-the-scenes tour of the process behind this work.
The Analog Polyphon is a new take on the traditional music box. Hand-cranked like the first mechanical music boxes, it’s a human-powered analog synthesizer. The turning of the crank generates power for the synth and also feeds a piano roll through the music box, so it’s a fully self-contained electronic synth with no batteries or plugs. Notes are played when wire spring contacts meet the copper tray, and each note pipes to a single speaker, creating a complex multi-channel sound. The speakers are in individual cases, so they can be arranged in any layout.
The story of Sisyphus is widely known, yet still compelling – as punishment for tricking his way out of the land of the dead, Sisyphus is tasked with perpetually rolling a massive boulder up a hill, only to have it roll back down. The shifting collage of the background is intended to illustrate the malleability and interchangeability of mythology, and highlight the infinity of Sisyphus’s sentence. The soundtrack is generated synthetically in real time from the shifting color values of the video (excerpt shown here).
“I’m not sure if maybe this might be okay if I just figure out how to kind of begin or potentially start with this one or possibly that one unless it would be better to instead of what if not?”
This is an excerpt from a live performance in which Edek Sher and I used flexible mirrors and a split projection to tell the story of being between places, of being in the uncertain limbo between earth and space, home and foreign territory, familiar and strange.
This is a sculptural video installation about re-encountering memory, set in a space big enough for a few people to comfortably fit.
I wanted to push on the aspects of memory and its infrastructure that are hazy, messy, unknown. I'm using footage from family videos, setting scenes from different generations against each other. The installation itself is a wooden reflecting pool with four partially-submerged angled mirrors, each of which throws a different video onto the walls. The pool is surrounded by eucalyptus, a plant whose scent is tied to memories from before I really remember anything.
Two of the videos are from my own childhood, and two are from my father’s. In each pair, one video represents an intact memory and one signifies an un-rememberable event.
Stochasm cycles pseudo-randomly through the English phonemes. Its behavior, inflection, and pacing are determined by ambient electrical currents in the air and the noise around it – if people are talking nearby, it quiets down until it is once again the only speaker. It was originally shown as part of my Gallatin thesis show, “Up Close and Mechanical” in the spring of 2012.
These drawings were made from the book “Erfinder und Erfindungen,” or “Inventors and Inventions” – a 1921 German book chronicling technological innovation. The drawings are all on pages from the book. This compendium was published two years after Freud's landmark essay on the uncanny; each of these drawings attempts to make visible the folkloric, eerie aspects of our relationship to technology by directly questioning the pompous men and sterile environments of its modern inception.
I made the Cumulous series for a group exhibition by the Fowler Arts Collective in Brooklyn. To make each drawing, I used a combination of brushed Sumi ink, rapidograph illustration, and a 2d plotter that drew in pen according to a custom generative drawing algorithm.
In an effort to reward its audience for spending time with it, Touchy-Feely uses capacitive sensing to “know” whether a human is holding it or not. Although primarily a non-visual piece, the unfinished copper retains some of the chemical residue left by its human companions, and so over time a history of human hands will begin to emerge in patterns of oxidation on the copper surface.
“Song of the Synonym” is a software script that reads poetry, looks each word up in an online thesaurus, and creates a rhythmic song from the results. The ambiguity of a line of poetry, as determined here by the number of alternate meanings, governs the speed at which that line is repeated. The voice is google’s translator, and the text you see at the bottom of the screen is a recording of a live performance in which I’m typing the poetry in real-time. The poem in this video is an excerpt from an English translation of Verlaine’s “Marine.”
Inspired by the iron tangle of New York's fire escape jungle.
When passers-by stepped on the nondescript, stained sheet of plywood, a bright LED spotlight shone from the “arm” of a fire hydrant that had fallen into disuse.
The robo-bass is somewhere between a washtub bass, a slide guitar, and a theremin. Played like a theremin, the instrument uses infrared proximity sensors to detect the player’s position and respond accordingly. One sensor determines pitch, and the other two determine when each of the two strings are struck. The sliding fret is controlled by a stepper motor, and the two strings are struck by solenoids. The position (and type) of the sensors is customizable, allowing for the player to use any combination of body parts to control the instrument. Because of its microcontroller construction, the robo-bass can also be scripted like a player piano.
We humans have an unparalleled ability to abstract some kind of meaning from random or chaotic situations. this “meaning” is contingent on context, though – so as the context changes over time, even simple words can shift in meaning. This collaborative project with writer Naomi Krupitsky Wernham uses descriptions of time to highlight the border (or overlap) between creatively intended and coincidentally interpreted meaning.
This collaborative project attempts – using 3D printing – to literalize the idea of “creative writing” and create the physical landscape of a written personality. The modeling and photography is mine, and the text is by writer Naomi Krupitsky Wernham.