CURRENT PROJECTS

Interval   (2017)  Two looped HD video projections, color, silent; nineteen digital prints  In 1983, I completed a film entitled  1963 (a meditation on history and violence) , which would prove to be my last circulating analog work. Made twenty years after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy,  1963  was meant to be a contemplative investigation of the relation between image and memory, and indeed image as a medium that obscures memory as much as preserving or transmitting it. The paradox here is that the more traumatic the historical event, the more images and documents proliferate around it, clouding or fogging the experience to such an extent that one only sees the obscuring haze. Moreover, that haze fills the space around and between us to the extent that we no longer see one another and communicate historical experience directly. Support for the polis is no longer intersubjectivity and attention to others, but rather our blind attempts to navigate the information fog that surrounds and separates us.  The source material for  1963  was a copy of Abraham Zapruder’s 8mm footage of the Kennedy assassination, itself filmed in color Super-8 off of the screen of a small black and white video monitor as it was broadcast on national television. Already twice mediated, this 26.6 seconds of images was then blown up to 16mm and step printed at one frame a second, slowing and obscuring the image while bringing forward the textures of its electronic and photochemical mediations. In  1963 , the step-printed sequence is repeated once—history repeats itself, at least in images.  Kennedy’s 100th birthday took place on 29 May 2017, and we are now more than fifty years past the traumatic year of 1963. In the intervals of time that have now past between and beyond 1963 and 1983, I have often thought about returning to these materials, but in expanded form and using digital means.  Interval  is thus a new iteration of my ongoing interest in the fading of memory and historical experience as a function of image and medium. My intuition here is that the mediated images that comprise our collective memory of historical events are subject in complex ways to temporal erosion, where duration becomes distended and elliptical, gapped and perforated, and space is clouded by a thickening or sedimentation of time perceived as indistinct layerings of the past and the present in uneven rhythms.  One anchor for the installation is a large format print of FBI exhibit K51, Abraham Zapruder’s Model 414 PD Bell & Howell Zoomatic Director Series 8mm Camera, now held in the United States National Archives. The so-called “Zapruder film” comprises 26.6 seconds of images, or 486 frames, exposed at 18.3 frames/second on Kodachrome II safety film, shot from Zapruder’s vantage point on a concrete pedestal along Elm Street in Dealey Plaza. In the context of the installation, this rather prosaic document will serve as a monogram of historical time buried within an archival document. Investigating these facts about time and timing are the conceptual motors for the general structure of  Interval .  Eighteen prints aligned in a continuous series on the gallery walls comprise the second element of the installation. Each individual print is an image sampled from  1963  by dividing the running time of the work by a factor of 18. The prints should all be of equal size and dimension, and set equidistant from each other; their deployment in series recalls the unrolling of a strip of film, and their uneven textures and monochrome color are reminiscent of Warhol’s “Disaster Series.” Ideally, the prints will be hung at a height approximating Zapruder’s own eye-level.  Two video projections are set at either end of the print series. The time structure and duration of these works are very different. One is built from what I call a “time pyramid,” wherein a baseline image extracted from  1963  is copied, retimed at different durations, and stacked vertically on the editing timeline in different opacities. The effect of layering.  different intervals of the image one on top of the other suggests that a heterogeneous and a-rhythmic time is itself obscuring the image. Layers loop and retrogress, preventing actions from going forward while splitting, fraying, and dissolving space as if to introduce new contingencies into the event, which nonetheless arrives at its foreordained conclusion.  The second projection ideally will be set off from the rest of  Interval  in a quiet and darkened space. If the print series suggests an imagined external view point and a linear though gapped trajectory in time, and if the first video presents a compression of historical time into densely packed heterogeneous series, the second video offers and impossibly elongated event, slowed to the point of indiscernibility. The space of the second projection is meant to give the impression of residing within our own heads, or some solitary space disconnected from the outer world. This should be a floor-to-ceiling projection. Its material comprises a digitized file of the super-8 source images for  1963 , retimed to a duration of 55 minutes—the exact time elapsed between the landing of Air Force Two at Love Field in Dallas and the firing of the first shot in Dealey Plaza. For viewers unwilling to spend significant time in this meditative space, the images will appear almost completely still, or moving forward at a rate just below the capabilities of human perception.  A central theme of  Interval  concerns the technological conveyance of historical experience through images in uneven rhythms and staggered durations where information is both elliptical and gapped, and either too present or too withdrawn. In this respect, it should be said that at no point is the image of Kennedy’s assassination visible in the installation materials. It therefore functions as something like a structuring absence, or the unbearable punctum or traumatic puncture in history that can never be recovered or brought again to sight.

Interval (2017)

Two looped HD video projections, color, silent; nineteen digital prints

In 1983, I completed a film entitled 1963 (a meditation on history and violence), which would prove to be my last circulating analog work. Made twenty years after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, 1963 was meant to be a contemplative investigation of the relation between image and memory, and indeed image as a medium that obscures memory as much as preserving or transmitting it. The paradox here is that the more traumatic the historical event, the more images and documents proliferate around it, clouding or fogging the experience to such an extent that one only sees the obscuring haze. Moreover, that haze fills the space around and between us to the extent that we no longer see one another and communicate historical experience directly. Support for the polis is no longer intersubjectivity and attention to others, but rather our blind attempts to navigate the information fog that surrounds and separates us.

The source material for 1963 was a copy of Abraham Zapruder’s 8mm footage of the Kennedy assassination, itself filmed in color Super-8 off of the screen of a small black and white video monitor as it was broadcast on national television. Already twice mediated, this 26.6 seconds of images was then blown up to 16mm and step printed at one frame a second, slowing and obscuring the image while bringing forward the textures of its electronic and photochemical mediations. In 1963, the step-printed sequence is repeated once—history repeats itself, at least in images.

Kennedy’s 100th birthday took place on 29 May 2017, and we are now more than fifty years past the traumatic year of 1963. In the intervals of time that have now past between and beyond 1963 and 1983, I have often thought about returning to these materials, but in expanded form and using digital means. Interval is thus a new iteration of my ongoing interest in the fading of memory and historical experience as a function of image and medium. My intuition here is that the mediated images that comprise our collective memory of historical events are subject in complex ways to temporal erosion, where duration becomes distended and elliptical, gapped and perforated, and space is clouded by a thickening or sedimentation of time perceived as indistinct layerings of the past and the present in uneven rhythms.

One anchor for the installation is a large format print of FBI exhibit K51, Abraham Zapruder’s Model 414 PD Bell & Howell Zoomatic Director Series 8mm Camera, now held in the United States National Archives. The so-called “Zapruder film” comprises 26.6 seconds of images, or 486 frames, exposed at 18.3 frames/second on Kodachrome II safety film, shot from Zapruder’s vantage point on a concrete pedestal along Elm Street in Dealey Plaza. In the context of the installation, this rather prosaic document will serve as a monogram of historical time buried within an archival document. Investigating these facts about time and timing are the conceptual motors for the general structure of Interval.

Eighteen prints aligned in a continuous series on the gallery walls comprise the second element of the installation. Each individual print is an image sampled from 1963 by dividing the running time of the work by a factor of 18. The prints should all be of equal size and dimension, and set equidistant from each other; their deployment in series recalls the unrolling of a strip of film, and their uneven textures and monochrome color are reminiscent of Warhol’s “Disaster Series.” Ideally, the prints will be hung at a height approximating Zapruder’s own eye-level.

Two video projections are set at either end of the print series. The time structure and duration of these works are very different. One is built from what I call a “time pyramid,” wherein a baseline image extracted from 1963 is copied, retimed at different durations, and stacked vertically on the editing timeline in different opacities. The effect of layering.

different intervals of the image one on top of the other suggests that a heterogeneous and a-rhythmic time is itself obscuring the image. Layers loop and retrogress, preventing actions from going forward while splitting, fraying, and dissolving space as if to introduce new contingencies into the event, which nonetheless arrives at its foreordained conclusion.

The second projection ideally will be set off from the rest of Interval in a quiet and darkened space. If the print series suggests an imagined external view point and a linear though gapped trajectory in time, and if the first video presents a compression of historical time into densely packed heterogeneous series, the second video offers and impossibly elongated event, slowed to the point of indiscernibility. The space of the second projection is meant to give the impression of residing within our own heads, or some solitary space disconnected from the outer world. This should be a floor-to-ceiling projection. Its material comprises a digitized file of the super-8 source images for 1963, retimed to a duration of 55 minutes—the exact time elapsed between the landing of Air Force Two at Love Field in Dallas and the firing of the first shot in Dealey Plaza. For viewers unwilling to spend significant time in this meditative space, the images will appear almost completely still, or moving forward at a rate just below the capabilities of human perception.

A central theme of Interval concerns the technological conveyance of historical experience through images in uneven rhythms and staggered durations where information is both elliptical and gapped, and either too present or too withdrawn. In this respect, it should be said that at no point is the image of Kennedy’s assassination visible in the installation materials. It therefore functions as something like a structuring absence, or the unbearable punctum or traumatic puncture in history that can never be recovered or brought again to sight.

#MyNeighborMonVoisinMeinNachbar   (2018)   #MyNeighborMonVoisinMeinNachbar  is a long-term photographic documentation of a precise urban location, which Google Maps identifies as: 48°49'46.2"N 2°23'00.3"E. This space is located in a major European city next to a busy thoroughfare running parallel to the industrialized quay of a river. The location is often empty but sometimes occupied, not by passers-by, but by those without domicile or shelter.  This is an observational study, not a sociological one. It is without story, without interpretation, without judgment. Images are silent, reticent. What can one know of or from an image, or even from the data gleaned from a long series of images?  The process of the project is as follows. Images are made several times of day over a period of many months. Their initial site of publication is the Instagram page, “studiobauleute”. There is no commentary apart from file number, date and time of capture, a record of basic weather conditions (temperature, wind speed and direction, humidity, barometric pressure, and general description), image metadata (f-stop, focal length, shutter speed, and ISO), and the hashtag, “#MyNeighborMonVoisinMeinNachbar.”  The image is always framed from the same angle and distance; the focal length of the lens is fixed, and the camera is set for automatic exposure. Stark repetition over time is in continuous tension with randomly produced time-based contextual variations:  · The space is occupied, or not.  · Random actions and events are captured both within the frame and at its edges.  · The camera is always handheld, which introduces haphazardly slight variations of framing.  · Weather and light conditions change diurnally and seasonally.  · The camera’s algorithms for automatically setting exposure and shutter speed continually vary color, contrast, and light registrations in the image.  The accumulation and observation of small differences across and along a long series of images unfolding in time is therefore important.  Instagram’s basic parameters also inflect process in specific ways.  · The aspect ratio of the published images is restricted to the Instagram standard.  · Images are displayed online as a vertical scroll in reverse chronological order—newly uploaded images are always at the top of the column, the present pressing the past off-screen.  · Images may also be displayed as a grid, though again, in reverse chronological order.  One might think of this study as a daybook without a stable subject. There may or not be a neighbor, whose comings and goings are often unpredictable. There is an operator, whose presence and absence is marked by the record of days and times, or their absence, in the series. There may be temporal gaps in series of images and data. What did the operator forget? Why are they absent? Why is the operator routinely present at some days and times and not others? (One might say the same of the neighbor.) Ellipses and gaps in the data also record the history of an absent subject, and sometimes their mistakes or failures of discipline.  One might also be inclined to ask: What are the operator’s intentions? But then again, only those who are looking for a story or an interpretation, or who want to pass judgment on the images or operator, will be asking these questions.  What then do these images want from viewers? Commitment. Attentive looking, attending with care. To not impose sense or meaning on the image(s), or to take away from them any more information than an image can offer in its silent presence.    #MyNeighborMonVoisinMeinNachbar   is  viewable  on Instagram at  studiobauleute , where its routine collection of images and data occurred during the first six months of 2018. Images from the Instagram page will be printed as a series of grids three columns wide and four columns high on a white background in exact reverse chronological order. In other words, the design of the printed grids will conform to Instagram’s typical aspect ratio and design parameters. It is likely that the project will conclude with around 370 images and 32 panels of 3x4 grids.  There might also be prints of individual images with their commentary, stacked in reverse chronological order in boxes, or printed as small photo-books.  A spreadsheet has been kept where all data has been precisely recorded. An enlarged print of this spreadsheet may accompany an installation version of the finished work.  A video will be assembled from the completed series of images, but now arranged in chronological order and animated through a process that will introduce new temporal complications.   Studio Bauleute  is the author of this work.

#MyNeighborMonVoisinMeinNachbar (2018)

#MyNeighborMonVoisinMeinNachbar is a long-term photographic documentation of a precise urban location, which Google Maps identifies as: 48°49'46.2"N 2°23'00.3"E. This space is located in a major European city next to a busy thoroughfare running parallel to the industrialized quay of a river. The location is often empty but sometimes occupied, not by passers-by, but by those without domicile or shelter.

This is an observational study, not a sociological one. It is without story, without interpretation, without judgment. Images are silent, reticent. What can one know of or from an image, or even from the data gleaned from a long series of images?

The process of the project is as follows. Images are made several times of day over a period of many months. Their initial site of publication is the Instagram page, “studiobauleute”. There is no commentary apart from file number, date and time of capture, a record of basic weather conditions (temperature, wind speed and direction, humidity, barometric pressure, and general description), image metadata (f-stop, focal length, shutter speed, and ISO), and the hashtag, “#MyNeighborMonVoisinMeinNachbar.”

The image is always framed from the same angle and distance; the focal length of the lens is fixed, and the camera is set for automatic exposure. Stark repetition over time is in continuous tension with randomly produced time-based contextual variations:

· The space is occupied, or not.

· Random actions and events are captured both within the frame and at its edges.

· The camera is always handheld, which introduces haphazardly slight variations of framing.

· Weather and light conditions change diurnally and seasonally.

· The camera’s algorithms for automatically setting exposure and shutter speed continually vary color, contrast, and light registrations in the image.

The accumulation and observation of small differences across and along a long series of images unfolding in time is therefore important.

Instagram’s basic parameters also inflect process in specific ways.

· The aspect ratio of the published images is restricted to the Instagram standard.

· Images are displayed online as a vertical scroll in reverse chronological order—newly uploaded images are always at the top of the column, the present pressing the past off-screen.

· Images may also be displayed as a grid, though again, in reverse chronological order.

One might think of this study as a daybook without a stable subject. There may or not be a neighbor, whose comings and goings are often unpredictable. There is an operator, whose presence and absence is marked by the record of days and times, or their absence, in the series. There may be temporal gaps in series of images and data. What did the operator forget? Why are they absent? Why is the operator routinely present at some days and times and not others? (One might say the same of the neighbor.) Ellipses and gaps in the data also record the history of an absent subject, and sometimes their mistakes or failures of discipline.

One might also be inclined to ask: What are the operator’s intentions? But then again, only those who are looking for a story or an interpretation, or who want to pass judgment on the images or operator, will be asking these questions.

What then do these images want from viewers? Commitment. Attentive looking, attending with care. To not impose sense or meaning on the image(s), or to take away from them any more information than an image can offer in its silent presence.

#MyNeighborMonVoisinMeinNachbar is viewable on Instagram at studiobauleute, where its routine collection of images and data occurred during the first six months of 2018. Images from the Instagram page will be printed as a series of grids three columns wide and four columns high on a white background in exact reverse chronological order. In other words, the design of the printed grids will conform to Instagram’s typical aspect ratio and design parameters. It is likely that the project will conclude with around 370 images and 32 panels of 3x4 grids.

There might also be prints of individual images with their commentary, stacked in reverse chronological order in boxes, or printed as small photo-books.

A spreadsheet has been kept where all data has been precisely recorded. An enlarged print of this spreadsheet may accompany an installation version of the finished work.

A video will be assembled from the completed series of images, but now arranged in chronological order and animated through a process that will introduce new temporal complications.

Studio Bauleute is the author of this work.

peripatetikos 3. Seven Bridges (Kant   )  (2019)  HD video. B&W. Sound. 44m 29s. Loop or single channel projection.   Seven Bridges (Kant) is part of a series of experimental videos and installation works devoted to sites of thinking and walking in the history of philosophy. Immanuel Kant led a life famously ordered by chronology; locals referred to him as the “Königsberg clock.” One invariable daily ritual was an hour’s walk that began precisely each day at 3pm. (The ritual was broken only once when Kant rushed out to buy an early printing of Rousseau’s  Emile .)  My first ideas about sites of thinking immediately turned to Kant. However, the Prussian city of Königsberg (now Kaliningrad, Russia) was severely bombarded by the British in WWII and then overrun by the Red Army and the city transformed by reconstruction in Soviet times. Even though the effacement of sites of walking is an important element of the entire series, it seemed unlikely that I would be able to gather useful material in Kaliningrad, and another artist, Joachim Koester, had already undertaken a similar project. Works devoted to Heidegger, Nietzsche, Wittgenstein (all in planning stages), the  Stoics  and  Plato’s  Phaedrus     (both concluded) all seemed more practicable.  Then, in 2018 I had the pleasure of viewing Philippe Colin’s lovely film from 1996,  Les dernières jours d’Emmanuel Kant ,inspired by the Thomas de Quincey essay of the same name. The film features David Warrilow, one of the great interpreters of Samuel Becket, as Kant at the end of his life, and unsurprisingly, there are many sequences of Kant walking and thinking.  There is a scene that appears late in  Les dernières jours d’Emmanuel Kant where Kant is seated at table with his friend, Wasianski, Kant’s sister, and her young adult son. The conversation is animated but Kant himself seems absent as if now fully withdrawn into his dotage. Suddenly, he reaches for two slices of cold cuts, places them side-by-side on the table, and then carefully arranges seven string beans around and across the thin slices of meat. One fears, perhaps along with his family, that Kant has finally become  non compos mentis . Then Kant cheerfully asks his nephew, “Young man, are you familiar with the mystery of the seven bridges of Königsberg?” Königsberg is bisected by the Pregel River, which includes two large islands, Kneiphof and Lomse, that in Kant’s time were connected to each other and to the mainland districts of the city by seven bridges. The problem that Kant poses to his nephew is to imagine a walk that crosses each of those bridges once and only once. The task proves to be confounding. Indeed, in 1736 the great mathematician Leonhard Euler offered an important proof that the puzzle could not be solved; however, his negative solution laid the foundations of graph theory and anticipated many important aspects of modern topology.  For my work, Seven Bridges (Kant) , I extract seven fragments from Colin’s film, further refining them and altering sound and rhythm in subtle ways. These fragments are then systematically shuffled and reordered according to a protocol derived from Euler’s negative solution to the seven bridges problem. In the resulting work, the fragments of Kant’s chronology—the clock generated in his routines and rhythms—are pulled apart and reassembled into seven de-chronologized variations of these elemental actions that in turn produce surprising micro-narratives with shifting affects. In particular, the Beckettian humor embodied in Warrilow’s subtle yet precise performance is brought forward through unexpected repetitions and juxtapositions. Still, in spite of this radical disordering of time, with its repetitions, recursions, and retrogressions, Kant arrives at his predetermined end, and so must we all.   Seven Bridges (Kant)  may be exhibited as a single screen theatrical projection or as a loop in a gallery setting. A future installation version may separate the seven sequences into individual screens accompanied by illustrations of Euler’s proofs, cartographic reproductions of Königsberg in the late 18thcentury, and seven print images derived from Colin’s film reproduced as charcoal drawings.

peripatetikos 3. Seven Bridges (Kant)(2019)

HD video. B&W. Sound. 44m 29s. Loop or single channel projection.

Seven Bridges (Kant)is part of a series of experimental videos and installation works devoted to sites of thinking and walking in the history of philosophy. Immanuel Kant led a life famously ordered by chronology; locals referred to him as the “Königsberg clock.” One invariable daily ritual was an hour’s walk that began precisely each day at 3pm. (The ritual was broken only once when Kant rushed out to buy an early printing of Rousseau’s Emile.)

My first ideas about sites of thinking immediately turned to Kant. However, the Prussian city of Königsberg (now Kaliningrad, Russia) was severely bombarded by the British in WWII and then overrun by the Red Army and the city transformed by reconstruction in Soviet times. Even though the effacement of sites of walking is an important element of the entire series, it seemed unlikely that I would be able to gather useful material in Kaliningrad, and another artist, Joachim Koester, had already undertaken a similar project. Works devoted to Heidegger, Nietzsche, Wittgenstein (all in planning stages), the Stoics and Plato’s Phaedrus (both concluded) all seemed more practicable.

Then, in 2018 I had the pleasure of viewing Philippe Colin’s lovely film from 1996, Les dernières jours d’Emmanuel Kant,inspired by the Thomas de Quincey essay of the same name. The film features David Warrilow, one of the great interpreters of Samuel Becket, as Kant at the end of his life, and unsurprisingly, there are many sequences of Kant walking and thinking.

There is a scene that appears late in Les dernières jours d’Emmanuel Kantwhere Kant is seated at table with his friend, Wasianski, Kant’s sister, and her young adult son. The conversation is animated but Kant himself seems absent as if now fully withdrawn into his dotage. Suddenly, he reaches for two slices of cold cuts, places them side-by-side on the table, and then carefully arranges seven string beans around and across the thin slices of meat. One fears, perhaps along with his family, that Kant has finally become non compos mentis. Then Kant cheerfully asks his nephew, “Young man, are you familiar with the mystery of the seven bridges of Königsberg?” Königsberg is bisected by the Pregel River, which includes two large islands, Kneiphof and Lomse, that in Kant’s time were connected to each other and to the mainland districts of the city by seven bridges. The problem that Kant poses to his nephew is to imagine a walk that crosses each of those bridges once and only once. The task proves to be confounding. Indeed, in 1736 the great mathematician Leonhard Euler offered an important proof that the puzzle could not be solved; however, his negative solution laid the foundations of graph theory and anticipated many important aspects of modern topology.

For my work,Seven Bridges (Kant), I extract seven fragments from Colin’s film, further refining them and altering sound and rhythm in subtle ways. These fragments are then systematically shuffled and reordered according to a protocol derived from Euler’s negative solution to the seven bridges problem. In the resulting work, the fragments of Kant’s chronology—the clock generated in his routines and rhythms—are pulled apart and reassembled into seven de-chronologized variations of these elemental actions that in turn produce surprising micro-narratives with shifting affects. In particular, the Beckettian humor embodied in Warrilow’s subtle yet precise performance is brought forward through unexpected repetitions and juxtapositions. Still, in spite of this radical disordering of time, with its repetitions, recursions, and retrogressions, Kant arrives at his predetermined end, and so must we all.

Seven Bridges (Kant) may be exhibited as a single screen theatrical projection or as a loop in a gallery setting. A future installation version may separate the seven sequences into individual screens accompanied by illustrations of Euler’s proofs, cartographic reproductions of Königsberg in the late 18thcentury, and seven print images derived from Colin’s film reproduced as charcoal drawings.

peripatetikos 1: Agora, or things indifferent   (2015-2016). HD video, color, 5.1 Dolby sound, 11m   Agora, or things indifferent  is the first iteration of a new series works that I call “philosopher walks,” or rather, peripatetikos, after the peripatetic philosophers of ancient Greece.  The material for  Agora  was shot in Athens on July 2, 2015, just a few days before the referendum on the European Union’s economic reform package. The work is built from nearly 1200 still images captured contiguously in a circular walk around the remains of the Middle Stoa in the ancient Athens agora, which gave the Stoic philosophers their name. This material was then animated by assembly into a “time pyramid” where different layers of the same sequence of images are retimed out-of-phase with another at different levels of opacity. Inspired by Stoic theories of perception, movement is here refigured as displacement, and the image as an unstable fluctuation between matter and light, all of which are indifferent to human will.

peripatetikos 1: Agora, or things indifferent (2015-2016). HD video, color, 5.1 Dolby sound, 11m

Agora, or things indifferent is the first iteration of a new series works that I call “philosopher walks,” or rather, peripatetikos, after the peripatetic philosophers of ancient Greece.

The material for Agora was shot in Athens on July 2, 2015, just a few days before the referendum on the European Union’s economic reform package. The work is built from nearly 1200 still images captured contiguously in a circular walk around the remains of the Middle Stoa in the ancient Athens agora, which gave the Stoic philosophers their name. This material was then animated by assembly into a “time pyramid” where different layers of the same sequence of images are retimed out-of-phase with another at different levels of opacity. Inspired by Stoic theories of perception, movement is here refigured as displacement, and the image as an unstable fluctuation between matter and light, all of which are indifferent to human will.

peripatetikos 2: Plato’s Phaedrus   (2015-2016) HD video, color, 5.1 Dolby sound, 68m   Errare mehercule malo cum Platone  . . .  quam cum is tis (se. Pythagoraeis) vera sent ire.  —Cicero,  Tusculan Disputations,  I, 13   Plato’s Phaedrus  is the second iteration of a new series works that I call “philosopher walks,” or more formally,  peripatetikos  after the peripatetic philosophers of ancient Greece. Like my earlier “walking works,” the  peripatetikos  explore formal processes of digital capture as performative gestures in response to specific environments, actions, situations, movements, trajectories, and durations—in this case, specific sites of walking and thinking evoked in the history of philosophy.  The material for  Plato’s Phaedrus  was shot in Athens on July 3, 2015, just a few days before the referendum on the European Union’s economic reform package. The scene of  Phaedrus  is one of the best-known imaginary itineraries in the history of philosophy. Reputed to almost never leave the city, Socrates accompanies Phaedrus on a stroll outside the southern gates near the temple of Zeus and along the river Ilissus, discoursing on love and beauty in relation to perception, thought, and form. Plato’s dramatic setting is precise enough that commentators have produced maps of possible trajectories through modern Athens even though most of the Ilissus has been covered over with concrete for many years.  Guided especially by R. E. Wycherley’s “The Scene of Plato’s  Phaidros ,” Google Maps and Google Earth imaging indicated that the imagined trajectory of Socrates and Phaedrus from the House of Morychos through the southwest gates of ancient Athens along the Ilissus and toward the spring of Kallirrhóē and the shrine to Pan could be made easily. However, facts on the ground taught me an important lesson on the difference between ideal Forms and empirical history. The grounds of the Temple of Olympian Zeus are about 10 meters above the area where Socrates and Phaedrus might have left the ancient city gates, which now exists as a well-kept archaeological park. The park seemed a good location for a philosophical walk. However, there was no access from the raised southern walls of the Olympieion to the park, and the park itself was fenced-in and closed to visitors. In addition, the area along the part of the Ilissus that is above ground and accessible is overgrown and littered with trash, including the spring and the still discernible shrine of Pan. This is a shame, since the area would make for a lovely small park and a natural extension of the archaeological park. It was very hot and there were no cicadas as referenced in the dialogue’s myth of Urania and Calliope, though I did hear an accommodating Eurasian magpie.  Although initially despairing, I decided to make the rails of the enclosed park, and the raucous sounds of central Athens, part of my work as a sign of the inaccessibility of the past and the foreclosure of philosophy. In the course of shooting, I acquired elements for four versions of the Phaedrus walk. Each follows the same trajectory from below the Olympieion walls, south along the park down the Athanasiou Diakou (where the Ilissus flows underground) to a path that turns east along the exposed bed of the ancient river. Along the path I pause at an oriental plane-tree where one can easily imagine Socrates and Phaedrus resting and talking. The path then turns around towards the back of the beautiful little church of Aghia Fotini next to the overgrown site of the spring and shrine. The initial trajectories occur mostly at eye level, and on arrival at the spring, each includes a “palinode” as the camera is raised tentatively toward the sky in a backward traveling shot that concludes where one enters the path from the Athanasiou Diakou. (The folded trajectory, earth and sky, is a gesture to Socrates’ speech on the divine nature of love and the imperceptible nature of wisdom). Each iteration of the Phaedrus walk is a self-contained sequence, though with very different rates of capture, temporal rhythms, and screen durations.  Drawing freely on Plato’s dialogue, I pull out several major threads of Plato’s “mythologies” as voiced by Socrates, and reweave them into a new conceptual structure imagined as the passage from disordered perception towards ideal Forms; or perhaps, as the effort of earthbound vision to pass through and above the visual confusion of material life toward a purer, more conceptual sight. In this  Plato’s Phaedrus  loosely echoes the four-part scheme of the dialogue—the presentation of Lysias’ sophistic speech on the lover, Socrates’ “possessed” discourse on eros and divine madness, the palinode, and the discourse on writing—as well as Socrates’ description of four types of love.  The myth of the cicadas’ song as an ode to philosophy is another point of reference, as well as the theme of nature as a Dionysian force lifting Socrates out of his rational self into a state of ecstatic possession. More importantly, the sequence of four parts is inspired by Plato’s account of metempsychosis, where the soul is depicted as a charioteer reigning two winged horses: one guided by reflection and drawn upward toward light and nobility; the other ruled by passion and pulling down towards darkness and baseness. The soul that perceives the greater part of intangible and immaterial Being in its celestial journeys comes ever closer to reason in its reincarnations. This is also the basis of Plato’s account of beauty and eros, where through the perception of beauty one recalls, as if a distant memory, the ideal Forms. The lover must transcend the desire for possession and dominance and learn how to apprehend beauty as an “erotic” attraction, which although drawn to earthly and corporeal forms, seeks a transcendental and immaterial vision. The power of conceptual thought, then, derives from past reminiscences of celestial Being, and after three thousand cycles of incarnation, a life devoted to meditation of the Forms grows wings and becomes a philosopher. The love drawn by beauty thus passes in stages from the material to the immaterial, the terrestrial to the celestial, and from form to light.

peripatetikos 2: Plato’s Phaedrus (2015-2016)
HD video, color, 5.1 Dolby sound, 68m

Errare mehercule malo cum Platone . . . quam cum is tis (se. Pythagoraeis) vera sent ire.
—Cicero, Tusculan Disputations, I, 13

Plato’s Phaedrus is the second iteration of a new series works that I call “philosopher walks,” or more formally, peripatetikos after the peripatetic philosophers of ancient Greece. Like my earlier “walking works,” the peripatetikos explore formal processes of digital capture as performative gestures in response to specific environments, actions, situations, movements, trajectories, and durations—in this case, specific sites of walking and thinking evoked in the history of philosophy.

The material for Plato’s Phaedrus was shot in Athens on July 3, 2015, just a few days before the referendum on the European Union’s economic reform package. The scene of Phaedrus is one of the best-known imaginary itineraries in the history of philosophy. Reputed to almost never leave the city, Socrates accompanies Phaedrus on a stroll outside the southern gates near the temple of Zeus and along the river Ilissus, discoursing on love and beauty in relation to perception, thought, and form. Plato’s dramatic setting is precise enough that commentators have produced maps of possible trajectories through modern Athens even though most of the Ilissus has been covered over with concrete for many years.

Guided especially by R. E. Wycherley’s “The Scene of Plato’s Phaidros,” Google Maps and Google Earth imaging indicated that the imagined trajectory of Socrates and Phaedrus from the House of Morychos through the southwest gates of ancient Athens along the Ilissus and toward the spring of Kallirrhóē and the shrine to Pan could be made easily. However, facts on the ground taught me an important lesson on the difference between ideal Forms and empirical history. The grounds of the Temple of Olympian Zeus are about 10 meters above the area where Socrates and Phaedrus might have left the ancient city gates, which now exists as a well-kept archaeological park. The park seemed a good location for a philosophical walk. However, there was no access from the raised southern walls of the Olympieion to the park, and the park itself was fenced-in and closed to visitors. In addition, the area along the part of the Ilissus that is above ground and accessible is overgrown and littered with trash, including the spring and the still discernible shrine of Pan. This is a shame, since the area would make for a lovely small park and a natural extension of the archaeological park. It was very hot and there were no cicadas as referenced in the dialogue’s myth of Urania and Calliope, though I did hear an accommodating Eurasian magpie.

Although initially despairing, I decided to make the rails of the enclosed park, and the raucous sounds of central Athens, part of my work as a sign of the inaccessibility of the past and the foreclosure of philosophy. In the course of shooting, I acquired elements for four versions of the Phaedrus walk. Each follows the same trajectory from below the Olympieion walls, south along the park down the Athanasiou Diakou (where the Ilissus flows underground) to a path that turns east along the exposed bed of the ancient river. Along the path I pause at an oriental plane-tree where one can easily imagine Socrates and Phaedrus resting and talking. The path then turns around towards the back of the beautiful little church of Aghia Fotini next to the overgrown site of the spring and shrine. The initial trajectories occur mostly at eye level, and on arrival at the spring, each includes a “palinode” as the camera is raised tentatively toward the sky in a backward traveling shot that concludes where one enters the path from the Athanasiou Diakou. (The folded trajectory, earth and sky, is a gesture to Socrates’ speech on the divine nature of love and the imperceptible nature of wisdom). Each iteration of the Phaedrus walk is a self-contained sequence, though with very different rates of capture, temporal rhythms, and screen durations.

Drawing freely on Plato’s dialogue, I pull out several major threads of Plato’s “mythologies” as voiced by Socrates, and reweave them into a new conceptual structure imagined as the passage from disordered perception towards ideal Forms; or perhaps, as the effort of earthbound vision to pass through and above the visual confusion of material life toward a purer, more conceptual sight. In this Plato’s Phaedrus loosely echoes the four-part scheme of the dialogue—the presentation of Lysias’ sophistic speech on the lover, Socrates’ “possessed” discourse on eros and divine madness, the palinode, and the discourse on writing—as well as Socrates’ description of four types of love.

The myth of the cicadas’ song as an ode to philosophy is another point of reference, as well as the theme of nature as a Dionysian force lifting Socrates out of his rational self into a state of ecstatic possession. More importantly, the sequence of four parts is inspired by Plato’s account of metempsychosis, where the soul is depicted as a charioteer reigning two winged horses: one guided by reflection and drawn upward toward light and nobility; the other ruled by passion and pulling down towards darkness and baseness. The soul that perceives the greater part of intangible and immaterial Being in its celestial journeys comes ever closer to reason in its reincarnations. This is also the basis of Plato’s account of beauty and eros, where through the perception of beauty one recalls, as if a distant memory, the ideal Forms. The lover must transcend the desire for possession and dominance and learn how to apprehend beauty as an “erotic” attraction, which although drawn to earthly and corporeal forms, seeks a transcendental and immaterial vision. The power of conceptual thought, then, derives from past reminiscences of celestial Being, and after three thousand cycles of incarnation, a life devoted to meditation of the Forms grows wings and becomes a philosopher. The love drawn by beauty thus passes in stages from the material to the immaterial, the terrestrial to the celestial, and from form to light.

Returning: a reanimation    In December 1950, Harper’s Magazine published an essay called “The Strangest Place in Chicago” by John Bartlow Martin with illustrations by Ben Shahn. Martin describes a once glorious 19th century apartment building called “The Mecca” located in Chicago on 34th Street between State and Dearborn. Designed in 1891 by Willoughby J. Edbrooke and Franklin Pierce Burnham, The Mecca was an architecturally significant structure representative of Chicago’s claims to modernity and innovative urban planning through the combination of high-density living with more suburban residential features. By the 1920s, the building had become a “mecca” for African-Americans aspiring to the middle class. The great poet Gwendolyn Brooks worked there, and wrote about it in her book of poetry,  In the Mecca  (1968). Civil rights pioneer Ida B. Wells and heavyweight champ Joe Louis lived there as well, and the structure even inspired a popular song, “Mecca Flat Blues.”  The Mecca was purchased quietly in 1938 for the planned expansion of what would become the Illinois Institute of Technology in 1940. Throughout this decade, the IIT sought to expel what had become nearly 2000 tenants by refusing to put money into maintenance and repairs, and then resorting to eviction proceedings. In 1950, the remaining tenants responded with mass protests. Nevertheless, The Mecca was demolished in 1952 to make way for Mies van der Rohe’s masterwork, S. R. Crown Hall, which now sits precisely on its footprint. This site and its Bronzeville environs thus evoke many fascinating themes of displaced architectures, competing visions of modernism and utopia, and conflicts in popular and cultural memory.  I call  Returning  a “reanimation” for a number of reasons. The elements of this work are taken from photographs Shahn made as records for his drawings. These images were probably not meant as artworks, but rather only as aides-mémoire for Shahn’s drawings. Now preserved at the Harvard Art Museums, they may be viewed online as a collection of 32 negatives. I find these negative images to be haunting, not only because they present a disappearing world now lost, but also for their pictorial density and abstraction. Shot in winter, and in largely depopulated exterior and interior spaces, the reversed tonalities of these images bring out volumes and shapes that disappear into their documentary and representational positive counterparts. (Oddly, in most cases black skin preserves its darkness in the negatives as if an inescapable condition of existential surface—there are no “white masks” here.) The negatives also lend emotional gravity to the nearly empty spaces that once housed thousands of inhabitants. The surface of most of the negatives is scratched or abraded, and marred by dust. One feels the corrosive force of time upon them, eroding their legibility yet giving them the materiality of history as a medium with a certain density and opacity.   Returning  consists of several possible versions though the aim of each is to reanimate these haunted images back into the present, or whatever multiple, contradictory presents we inhabit in viewing them. Each version of the projections orders the images as the imagined trajectory of an anonymous though invested observer around the exterior and into the interior of the building. (One could imagine this sequence as a record of Shahn’s own wandering though the print numbers on his contact sheets suggest otherwise.) Another powerful inspiration is the complex narrational voice of Gwendolyn’s Brooks’  In the Mecca  and the implied spatial and temporal structure of Brooks’ own haunted poem, itself a reanimation of The Mecca and its inhabitants as a mother returns home, and then searches for her lost child.  The core form of  Returning  is structured as a sequence of 26 “passages” organized as languid cross-fades from negative to positive images—at the midpoints of these transitions each passage appears as a strangely embossed bas-relief. Here Shahn’s photographs are literally reanimated. The implied movement is less a reversal than a passage through variable densities that vacillate between abstraction and figuration, which in turn suggest the ambiguity and intractability of historical documents with respect to the reanimation of the disappeared. There is no dialectic here but rather only a series of variable intensities and intervals.   Returning  may be presented as either digital video projections or as dual projection of 35mm slides. Planned versions include:  · A single channel video projected on a plane of glass whose dimensions are 56 inches wide by 26 inches high. These are the exact dimensions of the smaller windows of Crown Hall.  · Two video projections—one positive, the other negative—oriented as the recto and verso of the glass pane.  · Same as above, though with synchronized 35mm slide projections.  · Side by side slide projection (or video projection) onto the glass plane with the two images slightly misaligned.  · In all versions, the glass plane projection surface may be replaced by a column of “smoke” produced by a theatrical fog machine. In these instances, the machine is encased in a sculpture of glass bricks scaled to the dimensions of Crown Hall.

Returning: a reanimation

In December 1950, Harper’s Magazine published an essay called “The Strangest Place in Chicago” by John Bartlow Martin with illustrations by Ben Shahn. Martin describes a once glorious 19th century apartment building called “The Mecca” located in Chicago on 34th Street between State and Dearborn. Designed in 1891 by Willoughby J. Edbrooke and Franklin Pierce Burnham, The Mecca was an architecturally significant structure representative of Chicago’s claims to modernity and innovative urban planning through the combination of high-density living with more suburban residential features. By the 1920s, the building had become a “mecca” for African-Americans aspiring to the middle class. The great poet Gwendolyn Brooks worked there, and wrote about it in her book of poetry, In the Mecca (1968). Civil rights pioneer Ida B. Wells and heavyweight champ Joe Louis lived there as well, and the structure even inspired a popular song, “Mecca Flat Blues.”

The Mecca was purchased quietly in 1938 for the planned expansion of what would become the Illinois Institute of Technology in 1940. Throughout this decade, the IIT sought to expel what had become nearly 2000 tenants by refusing to put money into maintenance and repairs, and then resorting to eviction proceedings. In 1950, the remaining tenants responded with mass protests. Nevertheless, The Mecca was demolished in 1952 to make way for Mies van der Rohe’s masterwork, S. R. Crown Hall, which now sits precisely on its footprint. This site and its Bronzeville environs thus evoke many fascinating themes of displaced architectures, competing visions of modernism and utopia, and conflicts in popular and cultural memory.

I call Returning a “reanimation” for a number of reasons. The elements of this work are taken from photographs Shahn made as records for his drawings. These images were probably not meant as artworks, but rather only as aides-mémoire for Shahn’s drawings. Now preserved at the Harvard Art Museums, they may be viewed online as a collection of 32 negatives. I find these negative images to be haunting, not only because they present a disappearing world now lost, but also for their pictorial density and abstraction. Shot in winter, and in largely depopulated exterior and interior spaces, the reversed tonalities of these images bring out volumes and shapes that disappear into their documentary and representational positive counterparts. (Oddly, in most cases black skin preserves its darkness in the negatives as if an inescapable condition of existential surface—there are no “white masks” here.) The negatives also lend emotional gravity to the nearly empty spaces that once housed thousands of inhabitants. The surface of most of the negatives is scratched or abraded, and marred by dust. One feels the corrosive force of time upon them, eroding their legibility yet giving them the materiality of history as a medium with a certain density and opacity.

Returning consists of several possible versions though the aim of each is to reanimate these haunted images back into the present, or whatever multiple, contradictory presents we inhabit in viewing them. Each version of the projections orders the images as the imagined trajectory of an anonymous though invested observer around the exterior and into the interior of the building. (One could imagine this sequence as a record of Shahn’s own wandering though the print numbers on his contact sheets suggest otherwise.) Another powerful inspiration is the complex narrational voice of Gwendolyn’s Brooks’ In the Mecca and the implied spatial and temporal structure of Brooks’ own haunted poem, itself a reanimation of The Mecca and its inhabitants as a mother returns home, and then searches for her lost child.

The core form of Returning is structured as a sequence of 26 “passages” organized as languid cross-fades from negative to positive images—at the midpoints of these transitions each passage appears as a strangely embossed bas-relief. Here Shahn’s photographs are literally reanimated. The implied movement is less a reversal than a passage through variable densities that vacillate between abstraction and figuration, which in turn suggest the ambiguity and intractability of historical documents with respect to the reanimation of the disappeared. There is no dialectic here but rather only a series of variable intensities and intervals.

Returning may be presented as either digital video projections or as dual projection of 35mm slides. Planned versions include:

· A single channel video projected on a plane of glass whose dimensions are 56 inches wide by 26 inches high. These are the exact dimensions of the smaller windows of Crown Hall.

· Two video projections—one positive, the other negative—oriented as the recto and verso of the glass pane.

· Same as above, though with synchronized 35mm slide projections.

· Side by side slide projection (or video projection) onto the glass plane with the two images slightly misaligned.

· In all versions, the glass plane projection surface may be replaced by a column of “smoke” produced by a theatrical fog machine. In these instances, the machine is encased in a sculpture of glass bricks scaled to the dimensions of Crown Hall.