Development of memeltscren.mov

Reflecting on my collage work where I had been printing off physical copies of my computer screen shots I decided to experiment with smaller scale collages on a lightbox, about the size of a computer screen. This was an attempt to create static screens, using ink jet prints physically cut and stuck onto one another to juxtapose the imageries origins. In doing this I focused on a screen shot of my desktop to give the collage a sense of being located within the architecture of a digital user interface (UI). For me this image displays the outcome of primal human processes being translated into man-made digital technologies. In this specific case; the incalculable workings of the brain being standardised into visual digital form.

When reflecting on the development of the alphabet and its historical cultural influence Yuval Noah Harari notes: “The most important impact of script on human history is precisely this: it has gradually changed the way humans think and view the world. Free association and holistic thought have given way to compartmentalisation and bureaucracy.” As chronological development of human technology, the UI can, I feel, be seen as an extension of this and thus be analysed in the same way. In this screen shot, within the perfected architecture of the UI my folders, screenshots and documents cluster organically, blooming into the top right corner. Despite the UI’s rigid man made structure, the organic substance of myself and my brain seeps through the metal and glass, presenting a mess of disparate images and texts, refusing systematic categorisation.

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Desktop screenshot

On his website artist Joey Holder provides a link to a downloadable torrent of the entirety of his hard drive, 1.7TB of data. Through its scale, this mundane project raises questions not only about digital privacy but also about hard ware capabilities and emotional data. Holder gives all Internet users the opportunity to delve through incongruent corridors of his brain. Stored within the folders and the sub folders and the sub sub sub folders are traces of computer activity and physical reality. Here ideas come to fruition. Application forms have been filled. Word documents have been abandoned. Photos from a friend sit in a zip folder. PDF train tickets. Digital receipts. The lot. No more interesting than our own digital data sitting in the crevices of our hard drives and memory sticks, taking up all that emotional room. In ‘Grosse Fatigue’ Camille Henrot expands on these ideas on a colossal scale. Using a desktop, hard drive and screen recording software, Henrot attempts to describe the entire existence of the universe using multiple windows that open, play, pause, close, skip, turn, accompanied by a spoken word narrative, in 13 minutes. The scale of this project is far beyond my own comprehension, but this is the quality and breadth of subject that I aim to work with in the future.

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Still from Camille Henrot ‘Grosse Fatigue’

To describe this universal relationship to the desktop and personal data I took the ink jet print and scanned it back onto my desktop screen using a photo scanner. Here I then uploaded the image to the Internet, downloaded it and printed it off again. This print I then photo scanned back to the desktop. I repeated this until the image became so distorted it dissolved into the page. It was important for me to include a physical element to the process of destroying the image in order to think about the development of technology from physical tools as an extension of our physical capabilities, to digital technologies as an extension of our mental capabilities.

In Hito Steyrl’s introduction to her essay ‘In Defense of the Poor Image’ she defines the poor image as; “a copy in montion. Its quality is bad, its resolution substandard. As it accelerates, it deteriorates. It is a ghost of an image, a preview, a thumbnail, an errant idea, an itinerant image distributed for free, squeezed through slow digital connections, compressed, reproduced, ripped, remixed, as well as copied and pasted into other channels of distribution.” My aim with the repetitive process of printing, scanning, uploading and downloading was to manufacture my own poor image, using the image of the desktop as a digital representation of the brain.

Alongside making an animation of the final outcome of all of these images, I screen recorded the process of uploading and downloading the images that came into the computer. I learnt how to Chroma key footage in Premiere Pro in order to overlap and manipulate imagery in the way I had seen Borna Sammack do in his recent solo show with Sadie Coles.

I had simultaneously been working on a project where I was recording myself having a conversation with Siri in order to test the limits of the ‘Intelligent personal assistant’ computer program’s design. This process was inspired by works such as Alicja Wade’s ‘Medium Median’ and Steve Cottingham’s ‘Conversation with Eliza’. What I found here was that I went round in conversational circles when attempting to question Siri. With the lack of long term memory, I could ask Siri only one question at a time before it would forget the previous answer, making a back and forth conversation impossible. This confusion often led Siri to direct me to Google Search, which would then prompt me to ask it why it would do a google search for my previously asked question. This process would continue until Siri would silently reveal the google search results. These I would then read out, url and all. Through this process I found that the computer program controlled me rather than the other way round. Not only was I unable to move the conversation around in the way I wanted, my voice began to pick up the same monotomous rhythm as Siris as I relayed the google search results and repeated questions. I then heightened certain aspects of this audio in premiere pro, to reflect this banal digital rhythm that was created within our interaction, alongside audio of me typing at the computer and heavy breathing.


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/194341221″>ME MELT SCREN .MOV</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/amberclausner”>Amber Clausner</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

This audio I felt complimented the content of the video work with the melting screen, as it gave another example of the organic, bio-matter of the human, compared to the external, alien systems we have created to process data. To make this explicit, I purposefully chose a part in the ‘interview’ where I ask Siri about its opinion of perfection.

Finally, I had the opportunity to display this work in a show in the Linear Gallery, UCA Farnham. Having intended this work to be viewed on a computer screen, (as there is this illusion of invasion or mimicry when the video is put to full screen on a computer screen), this was a great opportunity to let the work occupy physical space again. I decided to emphasise this, using two monitors, vinyl stickers and loud audio in order to dominate the space.

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Installation view of memeltscren.mov in Linear Gallery

Although this changed the intimate dynamic of the video, this opportunity gave me a new opportunity to re-contextualise these ideas of the digital being translated into physical space. I feel that the work utilised this spaces limitations. As a corridor, the interaction between work and audience in this space is usually very brief, with little time or room to stop and consider the work. Despite this I was able to still effect audience members with the level and intensity of the audio and with the overabundance of imagery. At just a glance audience members where introduced to the main focus of the work, the disintegration of the screen, and the audio then followed them through the rest of the corridor.

I would like the opportunity to project this work on a large scale, in a room filled with other objects, or in some way to use it as a background. I feel that it works much better in this way, as to sit down with the work directly is not as fulfilling. It is more of an exploration of a subject rather than a strict documentary style narrative and I think it is most effective if snippets are seen at intervals rather than all at once. I believe this work creates an experience rather than a direct chronological narrative, and this can be successfully executed depending on its presentation.

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