The Mutable Archive (Shimon Attie), 2020
video still, 27" x 52".
The Mutable Archive is a multi-layered series of photographs and performance videosthat speak to renewed nationalistic obsessions with Othering and difference. A unique artistic strategy of this project involves interrogating the mechanics of storytelling and who speaks for those who are lost, particularly in the absence of verifiable archival material. Rather than follow conventional archival theory, the project prioritizes the relationship between each author/performer and their chosen subject while exposing how various narrative strategies can reveal the social and political challenges of the present.
Each photograph from the 19thcentury collection of Viennese anatomist, Josef Hyrtl portrays a single specimen and post-mortem skull tattoo with an accompanying archive card, which details only partial information about each subject.
Nineteen commissioned writers –artists, musicians, scholars, historians, a medical ethicist, a philosopher, an opera singer, and a spiritual medium –each create a speculative biography for the subject of their choosing from a collection of photographs from The Mutable Archive.Invited collaborators write speculative narratives about nineteen subjects from the Mütter Museum’s collection. Each script and recorded monologue, a 4K cinematic video, exposes the roles of assumption and subjectivity in science.
The Mutable Archive (Animal Archives), 2020
Isomorphic Extension I (diptych), 2014
digital pigment print on archival paper, 71 ¼" x 25 ¼".
This diptych conjures the way in which the brain constructs an image of the body and the perceptual phenomena of phantoms. Individuals who have lost a limb almost without exception experience the phenomena of the phantom limb, the vivid impression that the missing limb is present. In a macabre reversal of the missing limb phenomena, two, large scale photographs portray two prostheses, which linger below the invisible, or phantom body. A disarticulated human form is implied through an amusingly unmatched pair of prosthetic legs from different periods, one gendered male the other female. This diptych strategically places them in a configuration that suggests self-organization—or autopoesis—and ambulation.
Light sculpture, 44" x 48".
This complex light sculpture depicts a colossal abstracted drosophila eye—replete with compound faceted surfaces—that is inspired in part by a series of scanning electron micrographs I produced in a transgenic lab several years ago. Its recalls the circular opening at the apex of a cupola and also alludes to a surveillance device, or drone hovering in mid-air. Oculus invites us to ponder the impact of the gargantuan and the miniature on our perception of bodily presence and scale. This work explores those sensory modalities that play a dominant role in spatial perception and triggers the affect of scale on several fronts. Ultimately, Oculus strategically triggers an affective encounter with the colossally represented miniscule, offering a fantastic voyage that navigates spatial, temporal, and phenomenal worlds.
Digital Modeling by Nathaniel Elberfeld and Alex Waller, Metron Designworks; and Sung Ho Kim, Axi:Ome.
Dark Skies, 2012
Two-channel projection on dimensional (digitally sculpted) wall, 8’ x 8’.
Dark Skies is a multi-media, multi sensory collaboration with the architectural firm: Axi:Ome and sound designer, Christopher Ottinger. This work is motivated by the existence of light pollution, defined by The International Dark-Sky Association(IDA) as an excessive amount of obtrusive artificial light. The work takes as its title an astronomical reference, referring to remote places free of hazy city light that allow for an extended view into deep space and time as a unique perceptual and psychological experience.
Dark Skies is a multi-channel video projection on a large-scale dimensional wall:one side reveals a crepuscular sky and the other, a dark sky with smoky trails. The installation also includes a soundscape, drawn primarily from field recordings captured at twilight in the Rocky Mountains during high summer. The sound design in “Dark Skies” serves two functions: The first is to sonically articulate the ambiguous space between micro and macro environments, echoing those depicted in video elements, and the second is to add an interactive/immersive quality to the work. The sound elements are projected directionally into the exhibition space and viewers will be able to migrate between these two soundtracks—essentially moving between macro and micro realms.