Big Tools Small Tools

Collaborative site-specific installation created with Kathy High at Para/Site Art Space, Hong Kong, in 2005.

For Big Tools/Small Tools, I worked in collaboration with video and new media artist Kathy High. We created a camera obscura that we used to project a 12′ x 6′ image of the street scene outside the gallery onto an interior gallery wall. The wall occupied by this projection was also inlaid with five 2″ x 3″ LCD digital video monitors, which displayed the feeds of multiple live-feed spy cameras, which were surveilling various details of the same street scene as the camera obscura. We rebuilt the gallery space, transforming the rectangle of the room into a long, angled hallway, which required the viewer to pass very closely to the images, in order to arrive at a sensory-deprived room. Upon returning from this sensory deprivation, the viewers’ eyes adjusted to the light again, and a different view of the projected image was visible. The projection created by the camera obscura was a constantly moving picture. The small video screens provided a micro-image of that picture via digital, pixelated images, while the projection displayed a macro, analogue version. The overlay of these digital and analogue technologies resulted in real-time, painterly abstractions of what was occurring outside on the street.

Our collaborative installation contrasted modes of observation and various ways of seeing by combining analog and digital, and micro- and macro-imaging. We each approached the collaboration from our shared interest in, and differing methods of engaging with, science and technology. Drawing on my background in spatial phenomena and analog systems, I designed the custom lens system for the camera obscura, and initiated the manipulation of the physical space within the gallery. Working from her expertise in new media, Kathy High incorporated digital video and electronic surveillance technology, exploring the cultural influences and meaning of these tools.