I filmed this at The Painters Gallery, to document some of my installation Weather Reports at Sea, as installed at The Painters Gallery in Fleischmanns, NY ( thepainters.net/ ). Because two looping videos intersect in this work, the juxtapositions are unpredictable. The projections are on two walls and the images overlap. In this video, one sees about 12 minutes (out of the total of about 19 minutes that is the length of the longer of the two videos). The footage I filmed at The Painters has been edited, and cuts have been made, with transitions among scenes, to try to give a sense of the feeling of the intersecting video loops.
Weather Reports at Sea is the title of an article from 1921 about the new ability of ships at sea to exchange information through wireless technology. Specifically, this would have been radio telegraphy, transmitting and receiving Morse code messages.
This installation, which included the above video loops, as well as many other materials and a third video projection as well as a 4:3 video seen on a monitor, is an outgrowth of the many directions this small article has taken me (so far), and the ways it resonates with the world we live in today. A world in which we send each other internal “weather reports” instantaneously through a system of wireless communication that we barely stop to acknowledge, often using typographic symbols as shortcuts. SOS :-( lol ;-) A world in which the weather reports so often resemble SOS’s telling of floods that leave people stranded on rooftops on New Orleans and decades-long droughts that leave ships stranded in the desert that was once the Aral Sea.
Although I did a lot of research as I was putting this installation together, it is not intended as a historical document. Perhaps it is an expression of a sense of dread and doom about the future of our planet. But it isn’t supposed to be a political polemic either. It is an experiment in finding connections between life today, and the very beginnings of wireless communication - the beginning of the end of the long time in human history when, if you wanted to communicate with someone on the other side of the ocean, either you or your representative (a messenger, a piece of paper, or an object) had to make the long and time-consuming journey by ship.
But a ship in danger of sinking required immediate attention. The use of flags to communicate among ships, both in emergencies and with basic information, has been around for many centuries, though of course it only worked within the distance of sight. As an admiral instructed his fleet in 1530: "Whensoever, and at all tymes the Admyrall doth shote of a pece of Ordnance, and set up his Banner of Council on Starrborde bottocke of his Shippe, everie shipps capten shall with spede go aborde the Admyrall to know his will."
Events occurring over a few years in the early part of the 20th century, less than a hundred years ago, changed the speed with which we can communicate across distances, both the small and the trivial and the desperate cry for help. It was in those years that people began to listen to radios, to hear the weather reports, and the news and music. “We’re all in the same boat, ready to float off the edge of the world - the flat old world,” I heard The Band singing on the radio, in 1971, and it’s been going through my head ever since.
The installation includes other materials and videos as well.