Scott Snibbe’s Deep Walls

Deep Walls (2003), by Scott Snibbe (see interview), consists of a camera and a rectangular screen which is divided in 16 smaller rectangular screens. The camera records the projected shadow of the viewers who move in front of the screen, and each of the small screens plays one of those recordings over and over until a new recording replaces the oldest recording. The piece is set up in a way that the viewer is not aware that she is recorded; she only realizes that her oversized shadow is projected onto the big rectangle, not knowing that when she leaves her action materializes as a looping silhouette in one of the small screens. Given the inexplicitness of the grammar of interaction, in many cases what is recorded is the attempt to figure out the grammar of interaction. This can be considered a metacommentary on interactivity. However, there is much more symbolic in this installation.

Deep Walls (2003), by Scott Snibbe, consists of a camera and a rectangular screen which is divided in 16 smaller rectangular screens. The camera records the projected shadow of the viewers who move in front of the screen, and each of the small screens plays one of those recordings over and over until a new recording replaces the oldest recording. The piece is set up in a way that the viewer is not aware that she is recorded; she only realizes that her oversized shadow is projected onto the big rectangle, not knowing that when she leaves her action materializes as a looping silhouette in one of the small screens. Given the inexplicitness of the grammar of interaction, in many cases what is recorded is the attempt to figure out the grammar of interaction. This can be considered a metacommentary on interactivity. However, there is much more symbolic in this installation

http://dichtung-digital.mewi.unibas.ch/2006/01/Simanowski/index.htm

Deep Walls is a projected cabinet of cinematic memories. When a person walks into its projection beam, the interactive wall starts recording his shadow, and the shadows of those who follow. When the last person leaves the frame, the shadows replay within one of sixteen small rectangular cupboards, looping indefinitely. Like structuralist films, the collection of repetitive videos becomes an object unto-itself, rather than strictly representational “movie.”

Deep Walls creates a complex temporal relationship between movie loops. Each small shadow-film has the precise duration of its recording: from a few seconds to several hours. The temporal relationship between the sixteen frames becomes complex—in a manner similar to Brian Eno’s tape loop experiments—looping individual recordings of different durations to create a composition that doesn’t repeat for days.

Deep Walls is inspired by the surrealist films ofJan Svankmajer and the Quay Brothers, and the sculpture of Joseph Cornell. In their films and sculptures, small bodies and obsessive collections of objects into cabinets and drawers represent psychological and spiritual states. The rational process of organization brings out an unconscious irrationality.

Deep Walls’ name is inspired by a design pattern from architect Christopher Alexander’sPattern Language. He recommends building the walls of homes thick, so that the inhabitants themselves can carve out cabinets, drawers, and windows to personalize their homes. In the spirit of Alexander, this work gradually remembers the contents of its environment upon its surface.

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