Tag Archives: art

Photography as a Site-Specific Ghost

Photo: Mark Yokoyama, 2001-2011

Some time ago I was writing about the authorship and site-specificity of a photographic image—about the possibility to return the images to the places where they have been taken as opposed to the cultural norm of them to be appropriated by an author and taken away from the context. And here is an interesting example of how the photographic picture is being brought back to the place to belong there in the form of another picture. The simplicity, impressive visuality and symbolic tension of this process makes it accessible to a wide public use, which is apparent in this example. This kind of application creates an obvious nostalgic/sentimental quality, but that still might be an interesting case of a grassroots creativity.

The result of such a double mediation is an inevitable tension between the referent of the original picture and its original context at the moment when the next photo is taken. Needless to say, that there can be numerous layers in such a process, enriching the media of photography with completely different dimentions.

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Camberwell Sequences v.1 (text art installation)

This site-speciffic conceptual text artwork was made in and for the particular place in London district of Camberwell as an effort to engage into informal contact with a local community. Texts were shown at nights on large screen through the window and they could be seen from an opposite area including a huge, 18-level house right in front of my rather small 3-level house.

The texts reflect on the particular psycho-geographic and emotional situation of the area that they were being shown in. They are my own insights and observations about experiences that are common to those who inhabit the particular locality. They also tell a story speciffic to the Place, for example: Camberwell Road is a main route to the Camberwell hospital so it is constantly being crossed by ambulance cars with extremely loud sirens, 24/7; right in front of my house there is a small garden filled with tall trees which were coppiced recently so the view from the windows and also the sound from the street is no longer blocked by the foliage; the area (as the the rest of London city) is densely inhabited by foxes and squirrels which had to addapt to the changes after trees were coppiced, etc.

The texts are constructed in a semantic loop so they could be repeated endlessly without jumps. The soundtrack is a field recording done in the same place and it is presented here as an accompaniment for this rendition – it is here to reflect the sonoric environment of the place.

…AND OUR WINDOWS
IN FRONT OF EACH OTHER
AS IF ENGAGED
IN A SILENT DIALOGUE
WHICH IS NOT SO SILENT
AFTER ALL
THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS SILENCE HERE
WITH ALL THESE AMBULANCES
RUSHING AND SQUEALING
IT TOOK A WHILE
TO GET USED TO IT
WINDOWS HERE
ARE NOT THAT GOOD
IN PROTECTING YOUR EARS
AND DREAMS
FROM OUTSIDE
TREES USED TO DO IT
BUT THEY ARE NAKED NOW
NO FOLIAGE TO HIDE IN
SQUIRRELS AND FOXES
ARE EVEN MORE NERVOUS NOW
ONLY CROWS LOOK CONFIDENT
ON THESE STUMPS
WHICH LOOK LIKE CHOPPED LIMBS
I WONDER
HOW DOES THIS PLACE LOOK LIKE
FROM THE TOP
PROBABLY MISERABLY
COMPARING TO HORIZON
SILENCE AND HORIZON
ARE RARE TO FIND HERE
ONLY THE MULTITUDE OF US…

© Tomas Čiučelis, 2010

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SHIFTING v.2 (public text art installation fragment)

The public text-art video projection SHIFTING v.2 is based on the same concept as the SHIFTING v.1, but it has a slightly different structure: it is larger and the number of combinations much bigger — around 800,000. The “cloud” of meanings, or the “topic” is also different — here it is more politically and socially oriented.

© Tomas Čiučelis, 2008-2010

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SHIFTING v.1 (public text art installation fragment)

This fragment has been recorded while the random phrase generator was implemented. Basically, it is a small peace of computer code that I’ve written with the help of a programmer. Later I was using variations of this format to construct specific phrases to achieve a desired effect. The biggest challenge was to adapt to the contexts of various public spaces — mainly it involves the creation of versions in different languages. The Lithuanian and English versions were shown in public spaces of Lithuania (Vilnius, Kaunas, Žeimiai), Poland (Krakow), Germany (Bremen) and France (Paris).

The main idea was to construct a conceptual piece of text art, which would question the notions of public text and the authorship. This particular piece has four constantly changing parts. They change randomly and the number of possible combinations is nearly 25000, so the effect of repetition is excluded — moreover, the flow of combinations is even perceived as some sort of a narrative.

By delegating the authorship of the resulting text to a computer — or, to be precise, the Chance itself — I try to explore the conventional notion of an authorship. Of course, this lack of an author is a fictitious one: I am still responsible for a particular vocabulary, or a semantic “cloud” of meanings. By using certain words I can manipulate the spectrum of meanings, or the “topic” as it were. But still, it is impossible to predict the flow of combinations — every time it’s a different story.

Another important aspect is perceptual engagement in the public space. The format of the work is originally dictated by the works of Jenny Holzer and Martin Firrell but from the very beginning I considered this form (text art being projected onto various surfaces in public spaces) as a language that can be used very individually, thus enabling an emergence of a distinctively personal path and conceptual form.

I always enjoy watching the text projected onto buildings and trees — simple, white, big words that fall into some sort of chain of associations. For me it’s a meditative, personal dialogue with the unknown author, or, again, to be precise — the dialogue with the anonymous power of Chance itself. I also like the question mark in the gaze of the passer-by, when he suddenly stops on his way home in the evening — maybe tired, immersed into him/herself, slightly surprised and unable to identify these shifting messages with the usual imagery of a cityscape.

© Tomas Čiučelis, 2008-2010

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ABCEHKMOPT v.1 (text art installation)

This Flash movie loop is meant to be installed as a video projection for a site-speciffic installation.

The work was inspired by the official Soviet Russian lingo, which flourished in all beaurocratic and cultural structures of ex-USSR. Such lingo was structured around the abbreviated words, obsessively used by nomenclature, while the unofficial usage often had an absurd and perverse side to it (for example, ПИС-ДОМ – i.e., “Писательский дом”, the Writers-Union Department, which in such an abbreviation can be understood as an “urination house”, or even worse).

Thus, presented here as a neologism, the word “ABCEHKMOPT” makes sense only to soviet/post-soviet russian-speakers. The meaning itself is obscure and not fixed: the word is meant to be interpreted individually by recognizing various semantic fragments of possible Russian abbreviations; for example: А(БСУРДНО) ВСЕН(АРОДНАЯ) К(УЛЬТУРНАЯ) МОРТ(ИФИКАЦИЯ), etc.

The structure of this abbreviated word is defined by a Lithuanian alphabet which is filtered by using only the letters that are common with Cyrillic alphabet. So, by a mere coincidence, Lithuanian alphabet contains a clearly identifiable Russian lingo word which I present here as a critical reference to political and historical issues within the Lithuanian culture regarding nationalism and identity. The reference is modeled as a notion of some indelible, abstract, traumatic Russian “ingredient” inside the very core of Lithuanian consciousness and language – i.e., the Lithuanian alphabet.

© Tomas Čiučelis, 2009

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