Saturday, March 20, 2010

Cave Project

Cave Writing 2010 Final Project Description

I plan to create a project that addresses the specific space and environment of the Cave. I want to work with dioramas and domestic scenes visually, conceptually, and textually to forge a relationship between enclosed environments and infinite spaces, as well as movement through them. In the same vein, I plan to explore the opposition between public and private space, taking into account the unique, inaccessible, and even alienating situation of the Cave itself.

I will take advantage of the possibilities in depth perception that the Cave offers, superimposing images and text. I want to examine the illegibility of superimposed text - highlighting the aesthetic nature of textual objects - the concept of illegibility as untranslatability, and the ways in which a 'vuser' can move/manipulate text in order to 'translate' it.


First of all, I plan to put a chair (large armchair/reading chair) in the Cave. The viewer/user will sit in the chair as they experience the piece; ideally alone in the space. The act of sitting in the chair (DE)activates the space; it speaks to the user's imprisonment by the screen: s/he is immobile. Additionally, I plan to use the chair to address the floor of the Cave, on which it sits. When the Cave is illuminated with white light, objects and people create shadows on the floor in cyan, magenta, yellow, and sometimes red (the fundamental colors of printed media); and I want to surround the chair with these colors on a black background. Further, the addition of a traditional reading chair highlights the Cave's inherent questioning of the reading process.

The project starts with a hint of a form very deep in the cave. The viewer, sitting in the chair, must use the tracker wand to move towards the distant objects (or, move the objects towards him/her). The objects will be indistinguishable from this distance. Eventually s/he comes close enough to perceive a domestic scene (furniture). Each piece of furniture is repeated many times behind itself (I wish it could be infinite, but I don't think this would be possible), to create an enclosed, yet multiplied, environment.

Why furniture?
Though the viewer is in an immersive virtual reality, s/he will know that this image (of a chair, for example) will not support his/her weight. In the Cave we do not suspend our belief in the 'reality' of the environment; we are still aware that the Cave is a virtual and simulated environment. This contrasts the real chair in which one sits, and forces us to question how we know that one will support our weight while the others will not - even though they are in the same space.

The viewer uses the tracker wand to move through the repeated domestic (enclosed, private) space. The space transitions (how? I'm not sure yet) into a garden (images of trees, plants, etc)
Why a garden?
This is a simulation of life in VR. Further, it is an illustration of the opposition between public and private space, inside and outside. A garden is outside, yet it is private, manicured, human-made, etc. It is a paradoxical space (heterotopia).

The viewer moves through the garden (with the tracker wand). Images of plants are repeated as well, again creating a multiple enclosed space. Eventually s/he reaches what seems to be a white screen at the end of the 'garden-tunnel'.

The screen is in fact a wall of text - different lexia superimposed upon one another. Each will be 1,024 characters exactly. As a group they will be illegible - a reduction of sentences, words, and letters to pure aesthetic forms - creating a metaphor of illegibility as untranslatability. The viewer must 'translate' the screen of text by clicking on it, thus moving each block of text, which will then be against a black background and therefore readable. In other words, the viewer must set the text in motion in order to be able to read it (translation as motion).

Sound (May change):
The whole piece will be set to 'Come Out' composed by Steve Reich (13 minutes, will edit in half). First, the title emphasizes the viewer's imprisonment in the chair and in the Cave. Reich loops a single phrase ('come out to show them'), forming layers that begin as audible and eventually become indecipherable. The mirrors the concept of the illegibility of layered walls of text.

-Emily Martin - Matt's section

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