By Alexandra Mélot
interactive video installation
June 2004

Production : Le Fresnoy, National Studio of Contemporary Arts

The video installation consists of a 23 minute loop visible on a monitor linked to a computer and shows a woman alone in her apartment during the course of a day. She is constantly watched by a gaze that moves silently in the space.
The spectator is provided with headphones and is seated in front of the monitor with access to a remote control. Without interaction on the viewer's part, the day is repeated endlessly. When the spectator plays with the length of the images, s/he discovers floating moments, digressions of space and time. Sensitive zones on the video allow the viewer to branch off from the basic sequence into parallel sequences that come closer to the woman.

Notes about the interactivity

The installation is about time and space through repetition, an ordinary cyclical day that never appears the same.
The basic 23 minutes sequence focuses on a woman from a distant point of view. On the contrary, when the viewer enters a parallel sequence using the USB interface, s/he is able to take a closer look at the woman. A floating gaze is established between the character's dreaming and the viewer.

Each parallel sequence lasts a maximum of four minutes. There is one hour of parallel sequences hidden in the different sensitive areas. They all return to the basic sequence at a later point whether you choose to quit using a double click or whether it ends of its own accord. Each sensitive zone can have one to three hidden parallel sequences, one of which is chosen by random.

A description below the image shows four symbols that light up consecutively according to the manipulation of the spectator. (See the directions for use).

S/he can only enter in a parallel sequence when a blue circle activates below the image : the viewer has the choice either to make a movement on the interface to quit the basic sequence or interact in the next sensitive zone.

If the description shows a double blue circle the viewer can manipulate the image back and forth. When s/he plays with the image, s/he can change the length of it without changing the sound which flows independently. This effect gives the feeling of editing. Occasionaly a hidden sound can be heard by activating the interface : the more you play the more you hear the dramatic nature of the sequence reveals itself.

The USB controller allows the viewer to discover another use of the film timing. Sometimes the viewer doesn’t know what gesture provokes the image length : s/he feels a tactile feeling of depth.

The video can thus be unfolded and explored alone by the viewer, with the speed s/he prefers, from a fixed image to perpetual motion. Once the spectator interacts s/he will never see the same video twice.

The chronological narrative is constantly misunderstood by the viewer every time s/he interacts, because s/he is always disturbing a prior order. S/he never comes back to the most recent point, but is always further and later.

The female character is being controlled by the viewer but she remains unpredictable - her loneliness is also a great freedom and provides a kind of power over the viewer which, in turn, creates a feeling of anxiety. Sometimes she even seems aware of the viewer's presence, gazing briefly towards him/her with a form of weariness or curiosity.

Technical system

The computing was realized with director MX 2004, working with a Quicktime sequence of one hour and 23 minutes,17 go, read by a runtime projector. It can be shown on a macintosh G4 or a PC shuttle. The interface is a USB controller Griffin powermate installed on a wooden table.

The images where shot in 4:3 SD 720/576 with a DV Sony PD 150 and a defective corrective lens found in an optician shop. There is no post-production effect on the images. There is also no compression of the images, they are full quality (the project weights 17 Go).

This installation needs to be shown in a small and dark room. If possible, a steel frame (included in the installation) should be hung to the ceiling with stretched black fabric, as it is shown in the video presentation. Otherwise wooden walls (cyma) could do well, or any corner of a dark room.

In case of a selection in a festival a parcel will be sent, containing the USB interface Griffin powermate and four DVD’s. The content of the four DVD’s has to be copied on the hardware of a computer (minimum 800 mghz, mac ), it is four Quicktime sequences of 4,5 Go each, with a Director runtime projection and the software of the griffin powermate.

Then a simple click on the runtime projector is needed to start the installation.

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