Earth People 2507

2008 Sabbatical Research

Earth People 2507

Earth People 2507 is a video project that is part Public Service Announcement and part time capsule. It is a message in a bottle to W in 500 years. I am a cosmovideographer shot into space and time.
As a performance/video artist ideas of ephemerality come with the territory, until recently. This year, 2006, I signed a contract with the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics (Tisch School of the Arts New York University) to preserve and maintain the video documents of my performance and video works using successor technology in perpetuity. In the Institutes words, “performances function as vital acts of transfer transmitting social knowledge, memory, and a sense of identity through reiterated behavior. “ My original videos will be made available to the Libraries for conversion and encoding. A preservation master copy will be produced from the original videos to be retained in off-site storage, Iron Mountain. Iron Mountain is a high security, underground, and climate controlled facility protecting against natural disasters and human threats for its customers, which include “all of the top entertainment companies.”
There is little likelihood of anything surviving the ravages of time unless it is specifically designed to do so. Unlike the painting masters of 500 years ago I saw the longevity of performance art as fragile and the videos as delicate, easily erased and eroded. The end of my work/self was easy to imagine as performances have gone on, undocumented and likewise videotapes have been mysteriously erased. In other words, I’ve been on both sides of the end point. The actuality of having my work stewarded has forced me into a new way of thinking, extended to the real future or at least the real potential future as I may imagine it with the responsibility that comes therein. Futurity then casts an awesome shadow on the present and the flickering space of performance and video can become a beacon of insight, no longer fleeting but lingering.
I have developed some strategies and ubernarratives for Earth People 2507. One such narrative strategy is to place myself at the mid point on a millennium timeline that begins in 1507. Here, we are marking the transition from medieval to modern times with the renaissance. The “Mona Lisa” by da Vinci is creating a sensation, quickly answered by Raffaello’s “Portrait of a Woman (la Muta)” or “the Mute.” A humanistic revival is taking place in Italy which later spread though out Europe. This is but one familiar rendition of cultural history that is widely accepted. The new world is just beginning to be called America by cartographers, and North and South America has been realized separate from Asia. The space and time collapse of the world transport system began around 1500 with the advent of the sailing ship. Improvements of transport technology enabled the widespread building of trains, airplanes, jet planes and finally telecommunications, providing instantaneous transmission of ideas and culture. Can we think of time in the same way that we think of space? If individual units of space are all a part of the one space, then units of time are a portion of all time.
When I look around my world and consider the schema of awareness. I see that we are in the moment of truly discovering globalization, global consciousness and the interconnectedness of all things. This concept is gaining popularity as it flows from both religion and science. A thing exists precisely because there is an observer. The sentient being can be the observed and the observer and this is the line I will explore and blur in my experimental document, my own portrait of a woman. One’s self, portrayed living this moment with all of its contrivances and promises to my audience 500 years from now. I trust this conceptual underpinning will also provide and expansive model for the present.
Using original scripting, and a mishmash of moving image formats (primarily HDV, low resolution formats, such as cell phone video, medical imaging and found footage), I seek out cognitive universalities, transcending language differences and reach our brothers and sisters and everyone in between and beyond gender constraints in 2507. The narrative is being built modularly. The first meditation/iteration has been completed and is an official selection for the Sundance Film Festival, 2008. Most of my shooting will occur this summer, in studio, with the final edit completed in the fall and spring semesters of 2008 and 2009.
The story will have two main components of interiority and exteriority. The interiority will be composed of in studio performances that will initially be purposefully ambiguous. At first these performances will appear to be personal rituals or compulsive behaviors, but little by little inhabiting an art practice. On the “outside” I will create a world of symbolic imagery using found and original footage. I will also be including footage of people that I interview in a series of performances titled: Talk to the Future: Ask me how? This performance/conceptual information booth is scheduled for 3 sessions at Sundance 2008 and also for an Interventionist Festival at UC Santa Cruz in the spring of 2008.
I believe it will be possible to arrange a screening for my video in 2507. I am in discussion with several host institutions now to gain a partner. Although with digital distribution on the rise in my lifetime, it may not be necessary to locate a site, but foster a relationship with a lasting institution that will formally present the work. I envision that Earth People 2507 can also have a life touring film festivals and art houses.