by simon baird

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

My art project

So I have this idea for an art project. I thought of it many years ago and have described it to several people. Now I will tell it to you.

Imagine a regular small room, roughly cubical in shape, painted white or some neutral colour. The wall furthest from the entry point is a video screen hooked up to a camera which is in the centre of the video screen facing outwards into the room. So effectively the screen behaves like a video mirror. Imagine looking at yourself on your own webcam, only bigger. The image should be mirrored so it actually is like a mirror. Now for the cool part -- there is a time delay on the image. So image is the mirror is of the room some minutes ago. In the room there is a small table with a clock on it positioned so the clock face is visible in the video mirror. There should be no explanation or blurb other than "time machine" or some other less cheesy title.

"Some minutes ago" could be one minute, two minutes, 30 minutes, an hour, 24 hours. This could be tuned to suit the gallery conditions and opening hours. For example a mostly empty gallery would better suit a short time delay. So you see yourself walking into the room before you get too bored and walk out. In a busy gallery you could tune the delay so you will see people who visited the piece an hour ago. The actual time delay chosen doesn't really matter.

This piece interests me because as a viewer of the piece you become, without consent, part of the piece for a future viewer. Also because the "mirror" is effectively a portal allowing you to see into the past. If you don't "get" it at first then your entry, puzzled looks, shrugging gestures and departure, becomes entertainment for a future viewer of the piece. For short time delays it will be fun to make funny faces and do a dance to see what you look like. For long time delays it still might be fun but you will be entertaining not to yourself but to future viewers.

Variation: On the table next to the clock is a flat panel LCD screen which shows the same (delayed) image as the wall. It is positioned so that the screen is visible to the camera. Because the camera records what is on that screen this causes effectively a feedback loop so that the image of the small screen on the big screen becomes another time delay into the past. And if you look closer you should be able to see yet another time delay into the past as the image within that image. Perhaps this is not explained clearly enough but it's like a hall of mirrors effect only each "reflected" mirror is some minutes into the past. This is interesting because it gives us a stepped view into the past, in theory, back to when the power was switched on. In practice of course it will be limited by the resolution of the screen and the camera.

Anyway I am telling you this because I discovered a couple of months ago that someone had my idea (or at least something pretty close to it) back in the 70s! They built something quite similar (which would have been quite tricky with the technology of the times) and I saw it at the MCA at Circular Quay back in the January!!! It was brilliant! I will tell you more about it and another really cool piece from the same exhibition it in my next post.

Ps, If anyone would like to sponsor me to create this piece I will need $4000. :)


Friendless said...

I've seen it done already mate :-(. At some science museum in Melbourne or New Zealand or maybe even Brisbane. Sorry dude.

Deuce said...

Let me know when you set it up.. I think my bare arse would be an entertaining conversational piece for people coming into the room an hour later :)