"Missteps" is three-part installation involving several monitors showcasing glitched images from the 1896 SAIC course catalog. The work, which seeks to reinterpret the archive through the process of databending sonification, was installed in the Leroy Neiman Center at 37 S. Wabash Ave. as a part of the Telegraphic Fields (First Transmissions) exhibition celebrating the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s 150th year anniversary.
Thinking about text and even books in context of the archive immediately brought the idea of aging media. Page after page yellowed with some of the more crisp ones falling apart. In doing research for a different subject, I came across an old letterpress book where the words on one page somehow seeped into another, which further influenced the way I perceived these old documents.
In many ways, the little mistakes in old documents didn’t feel all too different from the glitch form derived from databending sonification. Instead accidentally inputting a typo and having to go over with X’s on a typewriter, I intentionally subjected scans of the catalog through sound editing software and back. The process of using a tool the wrong way to produce an image while simultaneously immortalizing a decaying document into the digital realm as a form of reactivation seemed appropriate for me.
I chose three separate, but visually appealing pages: one was the title page, one had an image, and the final page displayed text in an interesting way. As there are many effects in Audacity available, I limited myself to seven each. When it came to install at the LeRoy Neiman Center, figuring out how to display all twenty-one images became an issue. Instinctually, keeping the altered images digital seemed like the right way to go, and so video was the compromise. Even still, working out how to portray the twenty-one images remained unknown to me.
The first iteration—which also managed to make its way into the exhibition—was to display them as a triptych on a single monitor with varying speed for the seven images. Even now, it’s a mouthful to explain. As I was essentially rendering a video from a GIF, I had to slow the rotation several times because you couldn’t see any of the detail. Part of the issue was that the monitor too far from viewer.
The detail in each image was important to me, and through help from Mark and Nick, we managed to obtain access to the three monitors in front of the elevators. That way, they would be displayed bigger, and anyone could step right up to them, and with the physical catalog also present itself, the exhibition felt complete.
The following are select images from Missteps:
The following are the original scans of the catalog:
"Today is November 17, 2015.
You are now a part of the Archive."
Days after our exhibition opening, we held our Telegraphic Fields (Live Transmissions) event. For this project, Dong Chan Kim and I collaborated in executing a performance which consisted of photographing the audience. Dong Chan would then edit the image to mimic an older era. After, I would manipulate the original image a second time via databending sonification. Once the two edits were made, all three were uploaded to Facebook under the hashtag #SAIC150, and the audience was informed that they had been archived.
Reinterpreting text through glitch in context of the archive is as much of a mouthful, to say the least, but has actually been a fantastic intersection of many different thoughts. In working with Dong Chan Kim by inviting the audience into the archive, one of the things that stuck with me is making all of this material available. Making it possible for another to recreate this is along the lines of the Copy-It Right ideology that influenced me. When I first uploaded documentation photos, an online friend thanked me for making the exhibition available to those who can’t be there, and it struck me that would be virtually impossible for most people to engage with material unless it was explicitly made public, which is what we did.
Here is the documentation video for the performance:
Here are the images of the audience taken by Dong Chan Kim:
To continue with the idea of sharing the archive, it feels even more appropriate to also include our practice images as well. These are the images we produced before the show in chronological order: