For our last assignment, we were asked to revisit our past work and try to synthesize the ideas and themes we’ve worked on this semester in order to create a project based around the idea of transformation. This class has been incredibly transformative in the way I approach projects, as I have now developed a practice of devising a road map before I dive into creating something. So, I first felt it necessary to map out my projects from this semester and try to dissect the common themes. What I found is that the following are consistently present:
-Most projects are worn on the body.
-Many projects require human participants.
-Many projects deal with the idea of connectivity.
-A few projects also forced interaction between individuals.
Since this is our final project, I really felt the need to create something that seemed meaningful and/or personal, which really blocked my thought process for quite a while. I was able to break through it when I was reading a piece by artist Alix Lambert, who was talking about a project she did where she trained to be a boxer then put tiny cameras in her gloves for a three-minute fight. The resulting documentation from the fight was that of the cameras being destroyed with the same impact her body was enduring. This reminded me of a project I did when I first moved to New York, where I tied my Flip camera to a dancer friend of mine and had her do a short phrase. We moved the camera to different body parts to compare the perspective from various joints and reflect on documentation of a dance piece as the body sees it or experiences it, rather than from a typical third-person point of view. (This is especially relevant to my thought process right now because I’ve been thinking about how impossible it is to properly document performances that are meant to be experienced in person.)
So, I thought I would return to this experiment, as I never finished it the first time around, and this time I’d actually edit the footage so that it was possible to compare perspectives. I used my Flip camera again, as it is small and lightweight and fairly durable, and did a short phrase in my bedroom four time. Each time I would move the camera to a different body part on the right side of my body, resulting in footage shot from my ankle, thigh, elbow and hand.
To me, it transforms the viewing experience of the dance. Yes, it’s disorienting and not immediately apparent what the movement is supposed to be, but it’s also allowing the viewer to experience the dance in a way that he or she probably could not. Even if he or she was able to do the exact same phrase, it would look and feel differently.
I liked this idea of “wearable cameras,” which is not entirely new, but it’s still difficult to find examples of people doing physical activities with cameras on their bodies. I wanted to create a forum where this type of experiment would be encouraged, collected, and viewed. So I created a site called Wearable Cameras and Distorted Perspectives. For now, it’s just a Wordpress blog, but I have intentions to register the URL and promote the site as a project where others can submit similar footage. They can approach it with artistic motivations or simply attach a camera to themselves while they endure a physical activity in order to share a new perspective.
I think this project synthesizes the ideas I extracted: it’s on the body, it requires human participants, and it loosely deals with connectivity of the body and between individuals who connect via this project. It also allowed me to fully utilize dance within a project and do something that was screen-based, which is a departure from my other projects thus far.