EXISTENTIAL ULTRAVIOLET PHOTO CHASE
“Existential Ultraviolet Photo Chase” was done as a solo performance within a night of ten performances called “Ultraviolet Sun” by curator Tom Estes. As a media artist, most everything I do involves a camera, and my mediated live performances utilize projections, shadows, and sound. In this piece, my “Surreal Photographs” are on a DVD (with original audio by Matthew Lee Knowles and Charlie Morrow) and projected large on a white wall. The photos are of bizarre landscapes I’ve shot all over the world, most of which also appear between the chapters of my new novel Wish for Amnesia.
I wear a floor-length white costume that covers my face and head so I can only see the strong light beam from the projector. The images and sound get increasingly rapid and chaotic as the ten-minute piece progresses, in keeping with the curator’s purpose of paying attention to ravaging ultraviolet light. I become increasingly disorientated and exhausted due to the problem I set for myself, which is to follow the light beam around the stage as it moves according to the photo-projections, even though I can’t see much through the costume. Physically, that’s my purpose, but philosophically, my purpose, like in all my work, is portraying the existential difficulty and anxiety human beings face in a constantly changing, barely apprehendable universe.
What is most important in this piece is emotional interaction with the audience; only as it goes along is anyone able to understand I’m actually chasing the light, moving erratically in changing surreal landscapes. As they do, they begin to laugh tentatively, then more fully, as the frightening projected scenery, the frenzied arrangement and tempo of images and avant-garde music, and my limited ability to move and follow the light beam increase.
The event was sponsored by eMediaLoft.org (NYC), MoMM: The Museum of Modern Media (NYC) and Art Selectronic (London). It received a comprehensive review in Fad Magazine, a London arts publication, which referenced my 1970s work in video and Super-8 performance and called me for the first time in print, “Old Master of New Media.” I want to express my gratitude for this, to Tom Estes for inviting me to London to perform, to eMediaLoft.org in NYC where I mounted it a second time in March, and to Emergency INDEX for continued scholarly performance documentation!