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till we have faces, 2011, 13:57.00, edition of 3, HD wide screen, with sound
Our culture shapes how we perceive the normal events in our lives as well as the ways in which we try to interpret life’s mysteries. Increasingly reliant on quantitative analysis in arriving at our worldview, we now arrive at conclusions and assumptions that, in the past, would have been explained by myths, fables and superstitions. Understanding the function of myths in a social structure serves to clarify various stages in the history of human thought and also helps us to better understand contemporary life. Mythological stories reflect the vulnerabilities of human existence through the manipulations of superhuman beings. Our work explores this notion of frailty by building on examples from past societies where myth supplied models for human behavior. We begin working with a story from mythology and remove its narrative, producing an animation that becomes a visual cacophony of moving imagery, totally abstracting the original story while still reflecting its content.
By using a digital whole body scanner, we’re able to place three-dimensional photographically recorded figures, generally our own, into a computer to work with as 3d objects. With these scans and the use of custom software, we create animations exploring the human body. It becomes distorted and grotesque, altering the way we visualize the figure. The scanner’s cameras used in our current work only record external information. Subsequently the figures are hollow three-dimensional objects and in sectioning them they become ribbons of flesh. These calligraphic shards of sliced figures are meant to emphasize our vulnerability. They become painterly abstractions, at times like brushstrokes, of varying weights and intensities. The hollowness of the whole figures contributes to a sense of de-realization or the feeling that nothing is real while the shredding of the figures also makes them seem both anonymous and universal.
Looking at legends through contemporary eyes, we are better able to understand how we continue to be as manipulated by our culture now as we were in the past. Many of these myths, ostensibly lovely, romantic stories, are quite brutal. till we have faces was formatted like an opera, loosely based on the mythical love story of Cupid and Psyche. The video also exists as an eight channel animation, each channel representing a section of the opera’s composition, the prologue, two acts composed of three scenes in each act and the epilogue. It is about the failed perception of love and the dysfunctional nature of a family unit. It expresses human conflicts and connections between those distressed and suffering. The tension, in an abstracted way, creates a thin line between the grotesque and the beauty of human life.