Explore the Gallery!

Immersive, interactive and self-generative installation

Project for Master of Fine Arts in Imaging and Digital Arts thesis exhibition
CADVC (Center for the Arts, Design and Visual Culture)
University of Maryland Baltimore County, MD

April 2013

     Two plates on the floor, covered with a reflective film, mark a series of architectural states. They enhance a sharp differentiation between the hall and the gallery, unify the dichotomy between the floor and the ceiling, mark a threshold for the exhibition, and reflect the lights.
After this symbolic threshold, a red wall, residual of the previous exhibition For All the World to See: Visual Culture and the Struggle for Civil Rights, blocks the pathway. On it is installed a series of vertical LED strips that sense, through ultrasonic sensors, a body’s presence. The composition and vibration of light constantly changes according to the movements of the audience.

Cowboy 1989

     To the left of the wall, the space widens and a big projection on the adjacent wall, representing specific public places of Baltimore — airport, train station, harbor — appears. Exploring the space, the viewer would notice a wall, covered with mirrors, reflecting the projection on the opposite wall. The viewer’s body will be then perceived between two almost identical pictures, one projected and one reflected. Both pictures contain the image of the viewer: the mirrored image contains a sharp reflection of it and the projection reports a blurred ghostly image recorded with a surveillance camera and composed in real time. But both pictures contain the image of other people as well, even in instances when a viewer is alone in the gallery. For the pictures recorded with the surveillance camera are stored and randomly played with a MAX/MSP/Jitter patch specifically designed for the piece. The piece is self-generative — meaning, the author (myself) has no direct part in its future evolution.

Cowboy 1989

Cowboy 1989

     A very curious visitor would also notice tiny blinking LED lights marking the 20 surveillance cameras that are constantly monitoring the gallery. They are part of the entire installation, of course.
     The whole intervention – titled with the exhortation Explore the Gallery! – addresses and investigates the ideological matrix of the gallery through dealings with spatiality, presence, perception and movement. On a different level, it articulates an inquiry on themes of migration and displacement, on places and non-places, investigating a contemporary declination of site-specificity that seeks a common ground between mobility and permanence.
     The goal of Explore the Gallery! was not that of adapting a preconceived piece in a white cube, but of creating a piece that would be specific for that particular gallery, for that particular event, for that particular city, and for all the conditions that inform my presence in the context of the exhibition, including my condition as an international student, as a migrant, and as an alien.

Cowboy 1989




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