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Current Concept

This project loosely revolves around mental health with an emphasis on existentialism. I'm tackling the question of why we continue to choose life by looking at (or more precisely, listening to) the positive and negative experiences of others. In the form of an installation piece, guests will have the opportunity to walk around a 6-foot pillar and listen to a total of 18 stories, or three stories from six different people. The subject of the stories is one pleasant experience, one painful experience, and then why they believe they choose to live. As guests walk around and take the time to listen to these stories, relevant photographs will slowly start to fall out of the pillar. My main goal with this project is for guests to be able to reflect on their own positive and negative experiences and just think about why we do it; I haven't come to an answer myself, so I certainly don't expect that from others! I want people to listen, feel, and see what resonates with them.

In my past works, the focus on myself and my thoughts has been very prominent, so I really wanted to take this opportunity to showcase the experiences and stories of others. Getting to set up the stories/decide how to display them & the photographs will allow me to have full influence over the direction of the project but in a much less self-centered way. I chose the central theme of mental health because I'm passionate about it, so I feel much more comfortable pushing my own boundaries, and because it's crucial to have a space to talk about it! And what better way to create that space than with art? The stories of others have always fascinated me, as I find it important to hear about the different ways that we all go through and experience life. The choice to compile multiple people's stories came from the struggle of trying to pick just one person's story; I just couldn't measure people's experiences as being more or less 'worthy' of being included, so I'll take 'em all! The involvement of photographs was a more recent decision that came from my want for a physical component. I believe that physical and auditory art can beautifully go
hand-in-hand; I want the photographs to enhance what's being said in the stories and inspire viewers' imaginations. I chose a tall pillar as the vessel for this project for a number of reasons, the first being that it will function well as a means for being the art itself but also for holding/hiding all the tech components. I also liked that it would make the project very approachable & manageable, both as a participant and also when it comes to set-up. Aesthetically, I want to find this balance between an organic and stiff, geometric structure. Giving users something that, at first glance, appears to be clashing will draw them in and create this sense of wonder. I want to get the curiosity flowing as soon as possible, leaving users wanting more and willing to listen to the stories and dedicate some time to thinking about life, something many of us often avoid.

I will be working with Arduino, specifically using a Range Finder, LEDs, and a few Servos. The idea is that when guests approach as much as two feet away from the pillar the Range Finder will tell the Arduino to turn the LEDs on, begin an audio file, and start the brief countdown before the Servos move, causing the photographs to gradually fall. With the current prototype the Servo, LED, and range finder have been successfully connected, I just need to incorporate an additional Servo and audio files. I will gather the photographs mainly using disposable cameras, DSLR, and my iPhone camera if I am without the other two options. After falling, the photographs will stay on the ground throughout the entire gallery showing, with multiple backups stored inside the pillar, and will be manually reset by me at the end of each day's showing. The six-foot pillar will likely be made of a wooden foundation and filled in/finished using spackle and airdry clay, all mediums I have worked with before.

This project will also be able to live online, post-gallery showing, by adding the audio files & pictures onto this website! Updates on that to come... 


The Visitors by Ragnar Kjartansson

A video installation piece where multiple videos of individual people playing instruments, all within different rooms of the same house, are projected on to the walls. The entire piece is about one hour long and envokes emotions of gratitude, peace, and camaraderie, accompanied by beautiful music

Emily is Away by Kyle Seeley

A simple game where you interact with a friend (?), Emily, over the course of 5 years using an old online messenger, making conversation choices that affect what 'ending' you get. It highlights the troubles of
maintaining relationships into adulthood and the lonesome feeling that can accompany that experience. I was inspired by the ability of something seemingly simple being able to pull out such strong emotions, from myself but also from others who have played (indicated by the game's comment section on Steam)

CowBird  by Johnathan Harris

A short-lived Social Media platform that was intended to be a truly raw way to share stories; a way to let people connect in a way that was online but still more authentic than current social media platforms. I admire this response to humanity's craving for more depth, and took my own spin on this idea

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