Dear fellow panelists,
So far, I followed the discussion passively but finally could find the time to share with you the experience from my most recent project.
While graduating with my PhD in media arts only last year, the research in my work became much more important than the final artwork itself. As the research comprises in my case not only the content but also various aspects of technical explorations, I – or rather we – finished the filming for my first big production just last week. The result will be an immersive two-channel-installation with stereoscopic 3D video on my ongoing topic of choice and decision-making.
The work is a follow up project to my thesis research which proposed counterfactualism as a new genre in media arts, related to the increasing activities on counterfactuals in the humanities and sciences. Visiting many media art exhibitions, I realized that counterfactual thoughts often occur within the audience: What if I entered one minute earlier? What if I made another choice? In my mind, curating could include the counterfactual approach towards presenting artworks, dealing with ambiguity and straightforwardness in parallel.
Often, the reaction of the spectators is not intended, so I decided to create a piece in which the evoking of counterfactual thoughts in the viewers is planned from the beginning. Seated between two opposing screens, the observers are forced to turn their heads around and by doing so, will miss what is happening on the other screen. To provide a spatial experience and emphasize the urge to look only into one direction, I decided to use stereoscopic video for the installation.
Until then, my artwork was usually developed and realised all by myself or in very small teams. It often was spontaneous and evolving along the way, sometimes towards the specific requirements for an upcoming show. Now, everything had to be planned almost one year ahead, beginning with writing a research proposal, acquiring funding, recruiting the right members for the team of specialists in their field, organizing the technical sophisticated equipment (the film was shot with two 2,5K Arri Alexa on a Swiss Mirror rig), finding locations and seeking permissions – and dealing with all the difficulties along the way.
In the process of preparations, my research centered around the story I wanted to tell, basically retelling an ancient myth, and by looking at potential locations, I shaped the narrative and the look accordingly. Studying several approaches to present multi screen works and multiple plotlines helped me to convey a form for the future piece. My project integrates different methods of scientific imaging, a field which captivates me for quite some time, so I went to conferences and met many researchers from the field, to acquire knowledge about current approaches and state-of-the-art technology. Stereo 3D is in fact only a well-established optical illusion from the nineteenth century, but simultaneously a technique, that is investigated and advanced in several directions at once – and complicated to apply. So I had to accept my dependency on a team which challenged me and gave me unexpected freedom concurrently, and a lot to learn too.
Now, as the film material is on my hard drives and I start editing, I realize the responsibility and the weight that the project needs to succeed in some ways. We all spent time, money and in particular a lot of energy on the work. Looking at the material, I review all the choices that have been made during the process and cultivate counterfactual thoughts on how the procedure could have been improved, for reaching an even better result.
And finally, I primarily question myself if this could still be called an artwork per se or rather a professional movie production with an artistic content, and if the pressure of succeeding, at least for the sake of my sponsors, hamstringed the artistic process. Although the project is not finished yet, I am already conceiving a follow up project, for which I will start writing a proposal as soon as the edit is in the can.
Nevertheless, after the last day of shooting, just last weekend, I created another piece of art, a new episode in the life of my artist persona, this time for augmented reality, which will soon be online; with no budget, no pressure, but lots of spontaneous creative ideas.
Dr. Elke E. Reinhuber (Ph.D.) | Assistant Professor (Expanded Photography) | School of Art, Design and Media | Nanyang Technological University | #03-09, 81 Nanyang Drive, Singapore 637458 | (65) 94453544 GMT+7h | [log in to unmask]