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November 3, 2007

Identity and Urban Infrastructure

This, for me, is still very much a thought, a part of a larger concept to be explored. I am interested in failed, abandoned spaces and how they affect human emotion and behavior. The idea with this exploration is to insert the viewer into the imagery as a way to contemplate the issues presented. With Max/MSP/Jitter the camera captures the image of a viewer, the background is extracted, the viewer is turned into a silhouette, and the image is superimposed on the photo. The movement of the viewer is detected and mapped to a variable. Whenever the viewer moves to the left, the silhouette multiplies and then disappears again when there is movement to the right. From here I want to alter the timeline of some of the silhouettes where some freeze in time while others delay or have altered states of time. I also want to explore the idea of surveillance through zoomed panning of the original image (to simulate surveillance cameras). I will post a new video after I alter some of those things.

Here is a video documentation of the above interaction:

Here is an image of the patch:


Latitudes: Mizna show, 2007

This project was developed with a grant I recieved from Mizna's first granting program as a sort of prototype for my thesis project. I developed four short videos (below), the first being a looping video pictures I took of abandoned structures in Cairo, and the other three being an exploration of a personal narrative with void/abandoned space. I created an installation where I had several transparent screens hanging and overlapping through which the videos were projected (and due to the overlapping screens the videos overlapped and projected at different sizes according to how close the screen was to the projector). I then placed tile sensors on the ground, each sensor associated with a particular video. The viewer would walk into the space and see the overlapping images of the first looping video to the sound of a bomb ticking. They would then step on one of the sensors which would trigger a video overlay of one of the other three videos (along with an eeire ambient sound). The idea is that I would give the viewer the impression that they had some sort of control over the space by actively revealing these personal narratives, but in reality I was controlling their navigation (in much the same why that we are made to believe that we have freedoms and choices in our navigation of the city). I recieved some really interesting feedback in regards to the role that the viewers' shadows played in the installation and how that caused them to contemplate their role in that space and their imposed presence on my personal narrative.

Here is an image of the patch:


November 2, 2007

Performance: Emotional Response to the City


This performance piece was an exploration of emotions and feelings evoked by Cairo's infrastructure. The imagery doubles in meaning where one purpose was to evoke particular emotions as experienced within the city, the other was to portray a personal narrative of my interaction with a void/abandoned space. While the imagery was projected on the wall, I enclosed myself in the suitcase with a microphone and surrounded the suitcase with water-filled rubber gloves. When the viewer watched the projection, they could also hear my heavy breathing from within the suitcase.

The Most EVIL Leader

Bush's state of the union address in 2002 which coined the ridiculous phrase "axis of evil" opened endless opportunities for art-making. The phrase resurfaced for me with the latest outpour of idiotic headlines regarding Ahmadinejad's US visit: "EVIL HAS LANDED"......

I was interested in creating a composite of the leaders of the six evil countries (Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Cuba, North Korea) to create the ultimate EVIL! My first approach was to extract a group of pixels from each image, output them in a new matrix, and create a new image consisting of pixels from all six original images. The end result is an abstract, unrecognizable face.

The second approach was to extract portions of each of the six original matrices, output them as matrix layers in the new matrix. The end result is a collage made up of squares of the different parts of the six EVIL leaders. This approach creates a more recognizable face than the first.
Evil1.jpg (doesn't this oddly look like Bush?)

The initial concept was to create humorous combinations of faces as a way to stress the silliness of the idea of the "axis of evil". But other concepts started to surface, more meaningful, and more serious ones that could be explored further. Among them is this idea of how do we put a face on the word evil? What attributes create an evil person? Who can be evil? It started to raise this issue of surveillance and how we can pinpoint evil among regular people. This could make for an interesting facial profiling project.

While this doesn't directly relate to my thesis project it still addresses the narrow perspective presented in Western media. Part of my interest in relaying the idea of the city's influence on violent behavior is to relay one proposed correlation to the rise of fundamentalism (as opposed to the popular belief that fundamentalism and terrorism occur in a void out of hatred).

documentation of patches:



Four Way Video: Jitter Experimentation

This is just an exercise in Jitter effects on video. Here I used imagery related to urban infrastructure and created visually related effects controlled by the mouse and specific keys on the keyboard.

Documentation of the Patch:

Paper Installation

installation2.jpg installation3.jpg

This was an exploration of taking 2-d work and turning it into a 3-dimensional space. I wanted the layering, overlapping, and repetition of the imagery to be simulated in three-dimensional space. I coated the drawings with wax to give them a transparency. While my intention was to construct this "space" as a grid to reference city structure, it ended up being something else. It evoked the image of the small alleyway with the drying hanging laundry, giving it a very different feel than the industrial city I was originally thinking of. I was happy with some aspects of this narrative, yet I was still dissatisfied with its lack of interactivity with the audience, and in many ways it was still presented as a 2-dimensional piece.

drawing-installation1.jpg drawing-installation3.jpg

Trespass Series

Visually, I began to address the city as my focal point. In many ways I was still addressing some of the same issues as my bedouin series but with a different approach. I began to morph the figures and incorporated them as pattern in the same way I did with the urban infrastructure in the Bedouin Paintings. With this role reversal, and much more interesting narrative began to surface. The pieces presented the figures in masses and croweds void of identity; they began to relay an idea about the affects of urban space on loss of identity. This was pivotal for me as I began to explore ideas of human integration and participation in a city like Cairo where the layout of the city is a hindrance to daily living as opposed to an aid in daily navigation. I began to think about the fact that Cairo presents a structure where people are essentially living on top of one-another, invading eachother's space. These works use encaustics as a way to layer imagery of city and figure without them integrating; the wax layers the imagery on top of one another in separate layers.

Trespass2.jpg Trespass3.jpg

Trespass Series

Abandoned Structures

After working on the Bedouin Paintings, I discovered I was less interested in the narrative of the Bedouin and more captivated by the concept and imagery of the city. I enjoyed the juxtaposition of the geometric patterns of the city with that of the Bedouin portrait but found that the patterns of the city structures presented a much more interesting narrative. After coming back from my desert trips with the Bedouins I became much more aware of the chaos of the city structure in Cairo and the overwhelming over-stimulation of the senses imposed by the city surroundings. I began to notice the impact the structures, the over-population, the pollution, the noise had on me emotionally. I became interested in using the visuals of the city to relay this feeling, and as a result, began to document the abundance of abandoned buildings and structures that covered the city.

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Bedouins and the City



In many ways I have been exploring the affects of urban infrastructure on human emotions and behavior since 2001 when I visited the Bedouins. I was initially interested in studying their craftwork and designs for my own artistic purposes but discovered that I found their political situation more interesting.

I was captivated by their passion for their lifestyle which had been unchanged for hundreds of years, but that in recent history was changing due to urban sprawl and the imposition of modernity. Modern structures were starting to overtake their physical and spiritual connections to their land and as a result causing their culture to disappear.

a link to the Bedouin Series Paintings: Bedouin Series Paintings