Low-Res Arborscope

photo: Jess Erickson

2016, mixed-media video installation, SOMArts Gallery, San Francisco

."Low-Res Arborscope" positions human interaction with the natural world as a highly provocative, richly engaging mediated experience. At the center of this large-scale installation is a large pile of tree branches and other natural materials, some suspended from the ceiling. Video of movement through a forest is projected onto the natural materials through a human-created "screen" made of manufactured, wooden stakes. The rough-hewn stakes crudely intercept the projected video, casting ominous, scintillating shadows onto the natural elements.

Using a low-resolution "screen" of two dozen wooden stakes, "Low-Res Arborscope" contradicts contemporary urgencies about the superior quality of "high-definition," "maximum dpi" and ever-increasing "megapixels" in a highly mediated culture. Each wooden stake mimics a television scan line, such that its "resolution" is extremely low and rudimentary, as if it were a movie screen designed in the prehistoric past. As light is cast upon this low-res rendition of a movie screen, glittering, shadowy images appear in the dense tangle of natural ephemera behind it, suggesting a kind of pre-cinematic experience that confounds and reconfigures mediated and sensory expectations. Light dances along the tips of tree branches, grasses and brush, and the shadows suggest negative spaces, absences or segmentations of their physical trajectories, inviting a para-cinematic sense of wonder.

Furthermore, the dead trees, some hanging upside down from the ceiling, suggest the fatal byproduct of environmental toxicity -- the imprint of human intervention upon the natural order.

I am very interested in creating a vibrant, dynamic space where viewers are invited to walk around, explore and discover the unique, the random and the unexpected. By "mediating" the experience of engagement with nature, "Low-Res Arborscope" raises questions about our relationship to the physical world in a heavily mediated society.