Projection Series II (318 Minutes of Anne-Marie’s Memories)

(2014, VHS tape, canvas frame, 318min live-generated video)

After coming into the ownership of a small collection of home videos on VHS, I sought out their contents and wished to display them in some way that made the format of the media opaque and tangible. After finding that all but a few of the tapes had been corrupted by some force before my acquisition, I referred to the labels and other attributes of the media. If the contents are absent, what makes these tapes unique? Or have they receded back into the realm of the ordinary?

The tapes were all labeled in French, and with a bilingual friend I was able to ascertain some sort of semblance from the collection. We found them to be a child’s recordings, with the most preserved tape reading, “Anne-Marie’s cassette, Do not touch! Grrr! Ha ha ha!” Obviously entertained and interested with the embedded history of the object, I sought out a way to display or represent this lost video in our physical reality, since the digital and ethereal had failed it. With that impetus, I created a spooling system to transfer the damaged tape (and all that Anne-Marie chose to record) onto a canvas frame, creating the physical figure of an inert television screen to put not only those lost recordings but the failure of the magnetic medium on display.

Further developments came as I began spooling the sculpture, realizing that the 247 meters of one VHS tape wasn’t enough for the sculpture. After using three tapes (and struggling with the conceptual weight of three independent objects being used to represent one), I chose to emulate the frustrating intangibility of static by creating a live-generated projected display, comprised of three additive waves based on numerical details derived from Anne-Marie’s labels. This compound wave would exist without repetition for 318 minutes, the time-length of tape I used to create the piece. This allows me to acknowledge the personal material I have used and transfer that to the viewer, if only with an unnoticable detail. I still grapple with whether these details are for the viewer or the artist.

With such a work, dialogues with the popular fields of video sculpture and projection mapping can arise, but I choose to use this opportunity to ask questions about the formats and media of recording our lives and memories, and the impacts of digitalism beyond. At what point do we lose touch with the new realities created by our digital creations? By relegating these aspects of our lives to 1s and 0s, what details do we lose? How fragile is this new realm? My sculpture attempts to address these questions by recontextualizing VHS tape, a medium at the border between analog and digital itself.

As a last nod to this technological development and all that it failed us in the moment of viewing, I supported the projector with the last complete cassette, reducing it to a mere prop; a prism of inert plastic.