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A Smeary Spot

2015

shapeshift_olympia

The Shape-shifter as Olympia. Video still from ‘A Smeary Spot,’ 2015

Negative Space is an ongoing project composed of five interrelated multi-media installations. Conjuring and deconstructing science fiction tropes, Negative Space builds each episode around physical systems: the sun, the void, land, water, and body. This cycle of works raises socio-political questions about how value is allocated, with respect to ecological fragility, marginalized bodies, and their relationship to place.

A Smeary Spot, 2015, is the opening episode of the pentalogy. As the ‘sun’ episode, around which the others circulate, its title references directly looking at the sun. It is a 4-channel video installation, staged in two sites: the deserts of southern Utah and a black box theater. Performers wander the desert carrying equipment for provisional living (camping gear), while seeking out material and immaterial resources such as water, smoke, light and garbage. In the theater, performers build their world from a central pile of garbage and recite a script culled from multiple texts. The script collectively professes a manifesto on fluid ontology. A Smeary Spot sets up larger questions around the value of labor, resources and place in an ecologically fragile world that incessantly attempts to both contain and reject marginalized bodies.

A Smeary Spot is installed with black walls and industrial carpeting to mimic the esthetics of a black box theater. Channels 1 thru 3 are looped and synced with each projected onto an 81 x 144 in. freestanding wall. The three walls create a wide horizontal viewing stage set at an angle to the gallery walls. The 4th channel is displayed on a box monitor (on the right), on which the credits continuously scroll. Wheeled office chairs (that are props from the video) are used to provide mobile seating. 6-channel audio, scored by Geo Wyeth, orchestrates the audience’s attention across the three primary screens.

 

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Installation view of A Smeary Spot, 2015 4-channel video installation Videos 1-3, HD color, 6-channel sound, TRT 53:13 minute synchronized loop; and video 4, SD b/w, silent, TRT 4:00 minute loop Dimensions variable, includes twelve office chairs, videos 1-3 each projected onto 81 x 144 inch walls, built at a 10 degree angle to the gallery wall, gallery is painted black with black industrial carpeted floor and video 4 is presented on a separate 29 inch Sony cube-monitor

SS_video_4

Installation view of A Smeary Spot, 2015 4-channel video installation Videos 1-3, HD color, 6-channel sound, TRT 53:13 minute synchronized loop; and video 4, SD b/w, silent, TRT 4:00 minute loop Dimensions variable, includes twelve office chairs, videos 1-3 each projected onto 81 x 144 inch walls, built at a 10 degree angle to the gallery wall, gallery is painted black with black industrial carpeted floor and video 4 is presented on a separate 29 inch Sony cube-monitor

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Still from ‘A Smeary Spot’, 2015. Mother Flawless as the clairvoyant psyche.

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Still from ‘A Smeary Spot’, 2015. Mother Flawless as the clairvoyant psyche.

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Still from ‘A Smeary Spot’, 2015

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The Obsurveyor in a still from ‘A Smeary Spot’, 2015.

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The Obsurveyor in a still from ‘A Smeary Spot’, 2015.

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Still from ‘A Smeary Spot’, 2015. The waste pile from which all activities in the theater occur.

power_towers

The power plant in a still from ‘A Smeary Spot’, 2015.

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A Free Radical flagging the sun. Video still from ‘A Smeary Spot’, 2015.

rad_mudface

Still from ‘A Smeary Spot’, 2015

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Still from ‘A Smeary Spot’, 2015

radical_dance2

Still from ‘A Smeary Spot’, 2015

radical_disco2

Still from ‘A Smeary Spot’, 2015

radical_lips

Free Radical applying lipstick while reciting a text by Ursula K. Leguin about walls and boundaries in a still from A Smeary Spot, 2015.

radical_matterss

Still from ‘A Smeary Spot’, 2015

radical_sip

Free Radical sucking on vegetable juice. Still from ‘A Smeary Spot’, 2015.

radical_smoke

Free Radicals collecting smoke. Still from ‘A Smeary Spot’, 2015.

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Free Radicals meeting at the round table/tablet prepping vegetables for the juicer in a still from A Smeary Spot, 2015.

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The Free Radicals cleaning off then ‘swipe’ opporating the table/tablet. Still from ‘A Smeary Spot’, 2015.

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Aunt Be/e as Re/productive Labor in a still from ‘A Smeary Spot’, 2015.

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Aunt Be/e as Re/productive Labor in a still from ‘A Smeary Spot’, 2015.

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Aunt Be/e as Re/productive Labor operating the juicer in a still from ‘A Smeary Spot’, 2015.

saxsolo

OOO Sax Solo, in a still from ‘A Smeary Spot’, 2015.

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The Shape-shifter caresses Manning’s military jacket. Video still from A Smeary Spot, 2015.

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The Shape-shifter in her ‘natural’ state of perpetual becoming. Video still from A Smeary Spot, 2015.

candy

Gonzalez-Torres-esque candies in still from ‘A Smeary Spot’, 2015.

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The Dam from ‘A Smeary Spot’, 2015.

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The desert in a still from ‘A Smeary Spot’, 2015

Notes on Negative space:  Negative space is a mutable matter — the between, under, and around space. Positive space is the thing, the object of our desire, the subject of our attention. We might conclude that negative space is subordinate to its other, but if we shift our focus toward the formless, we see it is always becoming, always adaptable, always there even when the thing is gone.

Excerpt from ‘A Smeary Spot’ (opening episode from ‘Negative Space’), 2015, A.K. Burns from A.K. Burns on Vimeo.

Excerpt from ‘A Smeary Spot’ (opening episode from ‘Negative Space’), 2015, A.K. Burns from A.K. Burns on Vimeo.