daylight_robbery (sample)



My original concept was to address how we rely on “real time” as a constant in our lives. What if, instead of intervening in a viewer’s notion of time, I intervened in their notion of space? Instead of dislodging people temporally, what if I “removed” a portion of their reality – by illusion – then observed their reactions and subsequent realisation of what they were actually looking at.

In reference to the revered 20th century commentator on virtual art, Oliver Grau, and his well documented Theory of Immersion, I attempted to reverse his theory and base my work on subtraction and deprivation rather than immersion and inclusion.

In his Theory of Immersion he proposes the concept of “immersive art” as the act of a viewer totally engaging themselves in a piece of artwork, such as via a virtual reality interface like CAVE which provides a 360° x 360° visual engagement plus other sensorial experiences.

Historically, this can also be applied – perhaps to a lesser degree – to the unique experience viewers enjoyed entering a 19th century panorama painting where there was a 360° viewing span and indistinct edges top and bottom – providing the illusion of witnessing actual uninterrupted landscape vista.

The concept of the viewer experiencing immersion within a piece of art is reciprocated with what I have attempted to show in this performance where instead of placing the viewer inclusively in the work, I am excluding them from any visual contribution to the work.

No matter how hard they try, they cannot enter my artwork. They are restricted by the changed rules of engagement and are destined to remain purely as observers and it is this experience of exclusion that I find most fascinating.

Of course, in the subsequent recording of my performance – in real time – the viewers play an essential role in that their reactions are integral to resolving the work as a whole.

The Method
Earlier in the morning, I set up a monitor and a webcam both facing out the window of a Hindley street café. I recorded myself out on the pavement looking back towards the window and performed a series of “normal” actions, such as scratching head, putting on sunglasses, turning my head etc.

Each action was prompted by something happening in the background (which was reflected in the window I was facing – e.g. when the lady in red crossed the road, I put on my sunglasses, and when the white van went past, I looked to the left for a count of five then returned to face the window holding my chin. I continued this for four minutes then played the video back and notated each action’s timing and prompt signal.

I rehearsed this series of actions over and over until I knew them by heart. I then set the four minute piece to loop and run continuously on the monitor (I had started with a walk on and finished with a walk off – and miraculously the traffic stopped briefly – so the join was seamless).

My subsequent performance was recorded by a digital video set up inconspicuously inside the café framing passers-by as they approached where I stood. My performance basically consisted of walking up and stopping in front of the window and acting out every action that was happening on screen in perfect synchronisation. To the observer/viewer, I looked like someone who was fascinated with their webcam image displayed on a monitor in a shop window – until they discover that when they move in front of the camera they “appear” invisible and only I remain.

The performance addresses the process of subtraction as opposed to addition – exclusion not inclusion. And, through a little video sorcery, I remove or deny a measure of spatiality from the viewer.