Limits Playground: Final Presentation & Postmortem

Final presentation of my Living with Limits project, Temporary Expert: Anthropocene Edition, April 29, 2015.

Above is my presentation deck for my Living with Limits project, which was my final for The Temporary Expert: Anthropocene Edition taught by Marina Zurkow.

By way of a postmortem, and to reflect sooner then later on the process, I’ll respond to a series of questions.

What did I learn?  One surprising bit of consciousness-raising that happened during this project was that I gained more of an understanding of the effective limits of individual action — in individual isolation.  What I mean by that is: when you look at the numbers, and you consider the potential for real impact, an individual action that you take such as taking a shorter shower every day, will not have much of a systematic impact and will be counteracted by the larger forces of resource-use in our societies.  What can be beneficial or impactful is taking individual or small actions and amplifying them, for example via technology or public performance/exposure.

I also came away with a renewed understanding of how I personally relate to limits — for me they have always been liberating and energizing.  I had a theater professor once who talked about the power of constraints to generate creativity; I have adopted this as a sort of life-philosophy and this project just drew on and rekindled this awareness.  What I was able to communicate to some degree with my users, and what I would like to expand more in the continued life of the project, is how this relates to the limits to growth that we will all face one way or another if the models are accurate.  So perhaps eating less of certain types of food as a society, reducing how much we drive, or having fewer children can be productive, inspiring limitations in the same way that artists find fuel in parameters and restrictions we set for ourselves.

What did you wait too long to do? I would have liked to review the resources Marina provided me earlier in the process, because they were highly relevant to the work I was doing and because the artists she pointed me to are NY based, I could have tried to connect with them as Experts.

I would also have liked to do an earlier iteration of my CONTEMPLATION STATION, so I could take what I learned and apply that in continued designs and additional stagings of the booth.

What excited you most? I was most excited by the Daily Practice, and while I did try some odd things, and I did compile a body of different investigations that I can look back on now and draw conclusions from, I wish I had 1) taken the intensity of the rules or games I was creating further and 2) reigned in the variety of things I was trying and done something more discrete so I could follow its evolution more clearly.

What was new and useful? I was very inspired by my conversation with Rosemary Randall, and her work on the connection between grieving, loss, and the Anthropocene/Climate Change.  I found this framework for considering interventions around individual climate consciousness to be very rich and I intend to continue working with it.  Also reading Is Shame Necessary?, reaching out to Steve Lambert, and having Jacques from The YES Men visit our class all pushed me to consider some assumptions and programmatic thinking I have around where each of us as individuals can be effective and where the responsibility lies for making major changes in our systems of consumption and energy use.

Besides having more time, what do you want to improve on next time (research technique, experimentation, etc)?  In addition to the things mentioned above, I would like to make more objects that are tangential but not directly related to my project, as a way of drawing inspired connections and provoking edge-thinking.

Video Readymade: Spring Show 2015 Submission

Live Shot: after John Lockwood is an interactive video installation created for Readymades in Spring 2015. One of the central aspects of a readymade as we have defined it in class is taking an object (whether physical or digital) and placing it in a new context to endow it with new meaning and affect. The piece is inspired by the odd case of Live Shot, a website founded in 2005 by John Lockwood to allow hunters to login remotely, control a motorized rifle via attached cameras, and kill live animals fenced-in on Lockwood’s property and baited into the line of camera vision when a hunter was online. Immediately after the site launched there was a massive backlash from a coalition of Animals Rights activists, the NRA, and hunting organizations, outraged by the allegedly inhuman nature of this form of hunting. 48 states passed legislation to ban remote/internet hunting. Lockwood responded by questioning whether it is different to sit camouflaged in a blind waiting with a mounted gun, then pull a trigger, than to sit in your home controlling a mounted gun, then click a mouse.

In this project I have combined found footage of hunting trips with plastic models of the animals that were killed, built into a custom diorama. A live video feed of the diorama is displayed on a remote screen using a webcam and Isadora software. Using a mouse, users can aim the camera (and attached miniature rifle) and “fire” with a mouse click. “Firing” triggers footage of the animals being shot as well as intimate moments where the hunters pose with and comment on their kills. This version of the installation will be presented in class this week. I’m also working with collaborators to make the project truly remote so that users could login via a website to control the camera, and hope to have this aspect of the installation in place by the show.