Traces of the medium as matter

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If in essence conceptually at odds, the work of Daniela de Paulis, José Biscaya, and my own artworks are linked by a conscious choice for a precarious aesthetic where medium-specific traces are present as form of content. I have chosen these specific images for the NECSUS homepage slideshow to provide a sample view of how all three modes of production move against current trends praising the slick hyper-reality of HD and 3D by embracing medium interference and audiovisual decay.

The three images in sequence and the fourth (Moon-Landscape-Beach-City) as background for the title of the Spring 2014 special section were chosen to show how de Paulis, Biscaya, and I incorporate medium-determined scrambling and interruption of audiovisual signals even if differently produced by the intervening surface of the moon (slide #1 by de Paulis), code-based disturbances (slide #2 by Biscaya), or the low quality of Internet optics/transmission (slide #3 and title slide #4 by Albuquerque). Moreover, these images display how our artworks testify to and incorporate a technologically-determined Now (the event) – a (ghostly) trace of the present of the production. In other words, the resulting audiovisual output produces an ‘archivisation’ of time (and space) where traces of the moonbounce, software-based visual re-interpretation, and video-surveillance as media are enmeshed in the artwork.

Paula Albuquerque (University of Amsterdam)

Le Voyage dans la Lune (Daniela de Paulis, 2011-12)

Le Voyage dans la Lune, inspired by George Méliès’ movie, is a film composed of 26 ‘moonbounced’ images of the lunar phases, kindly provided for the project by Michael Oates (Manchester Astronomical Society). On 20 September 2011 the 26 images were sent to the moon in a sequence (one after the other) as radio signals by an antenna in Brazil, reflected by the rough surface of the moon, scattered all over space, and finally received by the Dwingeloo radio telescope, a large dish in The Netherlands. The original signals travelled approximately 768,000 kilometres (the distance to the moon and back), losing some data on the way and thus giving the moon-reflected images a very unique appearance.[1]

#47 (José Biscaya, 2014)

#47 belongs to a video-work series researching the relationship between landscape representation, perception, and the unconscious. The techniques applied to the footage are a mix between hacking of MPEG information and faulty encoding settings. During this process crucial data is removed from the MPEG stream and fed back to the computer to make it ‘work’, forcing software to re-interpret the visual information.[2]

Bucuti 2121212 (Paula Albuquerque, 2012)

Realtime Ellipsis (Paula Albuquerque, 2012)

As a project the Webcam Research Lab has been exploring the cinematic potential of webcam footage since 2001. It has resulted in several films, installations, and performances, including Bucuti 2121212 and Realtime Ellipsis. This project aims at deconstructing cinematic devices such as a ‘zoom out’ or an ‘ellipsis’ without applying them to a linear and smooth narrative structure but instead incorporating media-specific noise and other accidents. In the first film-project I am remotely handling the zooming capacity of a webcam located in Aruba while someone else (an unknown viewer) is trying to turn the camera in several directions; in the second I was lucky enough for the bandwidth to fail while observing the stream, provoking chaos in the image, and I immediately started recording it.

[1] Information provided by the artist.