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tom moody

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Compare and contrast:

Kristin Lucas, Host, 1997 (Quicktime excerpt clickable here [not anymore--thanks EAI!!!], or rather, here)


Paul Slocum, Hats, 2007 (YouTube)

Update: 12 hours later, and none of you have turned in your essays. I think these pieces are very similar and say much about the media (and assumptions about media) prevalent at the time they were made.
1. Both take place within a screen space, with inset headshot windows, and involve two characters talking (or not) at cross purposes to each other.
2. The Lucas is a quasi-science fiction scenario playing on the Logan's Run/THX1138 trope of the "video confessional." Lucas tells her troubles to an ATM camera, but instead of Big Brother or Sister, an overworked, headset-wearing operator (also Lucas) mostly ignores her while putting out fires on other networks. POVs are looking out from the ATM at the patient/confessor on the street, the operator/shrink on an inset screen, and an awkward exchange where the shrink tries to tell the patient where to touch the screen to get a response.
3. In Slocum's piece the action takes place on a present-day, cluttered computer desktop. Two video inset windows frame Slocum and another character, who might be videoconferencing. The headset-wearing Slocum is mostly just listening and lurking, opening and closing desktop windows as the page strains from the taxing of memory. He recalls the "operator" in the Lucas video, managing chaos and not accomplishing much. The other character is not a penitent from the street but a guy on YouTube confessing his girlfriend problems, and not to Slocum but the world. His voice cuts in and out and repeats.
4. 1997: closed network, centrally controlled, falling apart from an absence of qualified human "controllers," yet there is still faith in the system by the users.
5. 2007: open network, peer to peer, but communication no better--YouTube is a one way confession, screen is clogged with noise of too many cyberentertainment distractions. Users still think confessing (to a social networking site) will solve their problems.
6. Both pieces are complex and layered and make adroit use their respective media to evoke maximum cognitive dissonance.
7. Both works introduce subject matter extraneous to a simple two character narrative. Lucas' operator appears to be splitting her time between her "confessional" clients and managing some sort of group videogame environment (this may not be apparent on the excerpted clip). The contours of her activities are porous and uncertain. Half of Slocum's screen space is taken up with a banal jpeg of baseball hats on an armchair, along with a confused multiplicity of windows opening and closing as well as overlapping and interrupting the YouTube boob.
8. In both works the artists use their own image as a character or characters.
9. Lucas's screen environment is wholly fictional, but Slocum's might actually just be his desktop on a given day, heaven help him.
10. Both pieces are further nested within screen environments reflective of their eras. Lucas is Amiga computer- and analog-mixed video for TV display (converted to Quicktime for the Web by the non-profit Electronic Arts Intermix, which distributes the work). The Slocum piece is all-PC, using capture programs and other software, self-distributed via the YouTube (centrally, corporately controlled) video networking site.
11. Both pieces are linked to from the artist's personal websites. Lucas's has an archive linking to excerpted versions of the work (update: a longer one is here); Slocum's is in blog form and puts an embedded YouTube of the video in a post.

- tom moody 6-22-2007 8:26 pm [link] [19 comments]