HAME by Laura Beloff, a project that thematicizes hysteria and boredom, was produced as part of the Artist-in-Residence Program.
This project began with an interest in extreme behaviours, like hysteria and boredom. The both of these concepts are considered to be mental states, which are reflected upon and seen in a person's behaviour. They also are maladies intrinsic to women. Boredom presents itself as a trivial emotion, which suggests disruptions of desire. It is a form of passive aggression. Hysteria presents itself in extreme behaviours. It is a phantasy, which is transformed into motorized activity.
Although these concepts may seem distant in relation to each other, I think that the step from a boredom to a hysteria is a very small one and almost expected.
I started the project by looking into the Sigmund Freud's case study in hysteria; "Dora -An Analysis of A Case of Hysteria", which functioned as a loose background script for the piece.
Hysteria; an illness of incongruence of image and thought. Hysteria can only be acknowledged through a behaviour. It was recognized as an illness only through making visible a woman's hysterical body, through a technical representation (photography).
Many of the new media art pieces, games and innovations are profoundly connected to the concept of boredom. Usually they are based on the idea of decreasing the boredom in the audience. But at the same time as they try to entertain the audience, they seem to cause behaviors typical for boredom. As the continuous repeated processings of machines remain almost unchanging, the users are also forced into a repeating cycle of more or less passive behaviours and monotonous gestures.
The installation HAME consists two (sculptural) objects located in space. These objects form a shape of a 19th century dress, which is divided into two parts. A stereographic video is projected on the other half. An audio is heard from inside the objects and around them. Viewers wear glasses with polarization filters, which enable them to see the projections stereographically.The piece includes three transparent jackets, which are offered for the viewers to wear. ( At the moment the piece has two separate interface systems; intercative jackets or intercative chairs. The both of these systems controll the piece in a similar manner).
In Freud's method of psychoanalysis, the one analyzing the patient is sitting behind her, out of her field of vision. In a similar manner this piece is observing the movements of the viewers wearing the jackets, but in this case the observation is carried out by a machine (a videocamera). When a viewer with a jacket is walking close to the active area, s/he will be observed by a detection system and changes are seen in the projected images and heard in audio.
The jackets act like functions for the viewers to take on. There are infra-red diodes on the jackets and a camera is detecting and counting the amount of diodes on the active area. The camera recognises, which jacket enters the area and which leaves the area. It also detects, which is the first jacket on the area, which is the second and how many jackets are at the same time on the area. All the three jackets have their own identity. The first jacket is always the one, which dominates. Two of the jackets are more linked to each other, they function a bit like a forward and rewind buttons of a videoplayer. The third jacket is the hysteric one, which disturbs and interrupts. Several viewers/jackets in the same active area will cause a new situation and one jacket entering right after another jacket has left the active area will be influenced by the events caused by the previous jacket. Without a viewer the piece will be in "a sleeping mode". During this state there will be very static and subtle events happening in the image and in the audio.
A hysterical attack may cause a person to imagine in a reversed order and to replace objects or events with different ones. A boredom is caused by a static and repetitious state of existence.
The videoclips represent animated and repeating gestures based on the concepts of hysteria and boredom. The visuals of the piece are short, minimalistic videoclips, which continuously keep looping one at a time. Always a new signal (caused by a jacket) will generate a new looping videoclip to appear. The structure relates to routines and to an endless repetition. The videoimages are fragments linked to hysteria, boredom and their causes. Gestures that are neurotically repeated; like the videoclip of the obsessive compulsive cleaning of herself. There are clips refering to a sexuality and desires; like the videoclip of a "falling" dress or laying on a horizontal position. Some of the videoclips are glimpses of a possible catastrophy; the images of milk falling on the floor or the clip of an endless and vain walk in a circle.
The movements in the images are purposely non-naturalistic, but machine-like; segmented, timed and rhythmized. Also the different functions of the jackets refer to a machine-like functions (videoplayer). All the aesthetics of the visuals/sounds are purposely artificial. The images are extremely manipulated and the soundscape is totally electronic and digital. These choises emphazise the technicality of the piece. Although the topic of this installation is not technology-centered, the piece is and functions like a machine. A machine which observes, a machine which sends signals and data to other networked machines in the installation.
I was interested of using videoprojecton on three dimensional objects and in a similar way using the stereography to make the flat projection surface to appear more spatial. In stereographic installation the eyes are manipulated in a very mechanical way, creating a kind of a "machine-vision". My interest in stereographic video grew out of a desire to see and to have "more". To be able manipulate the "true" perception with "false" images. Also the idea that the two separate images have to be synchronised interested me. That the moment is always split into two separate, simultaeous events. It is a multiplicity, which forms a singular and the center of this multiplicity is the viewer. The moment is divided at the precise second it is experienced.
"Klang in hame"
The sound design in this installation is developed with a focus on the design of the visual part. In principle the audio system will react on the same detected signals as the visual system, but the mediapools are separate entities with only a few links between them. Aesthetically the sounds are connected to video clips; very strict rhythms follow the movements on the screen and construct a connection between these two parts. The sounds are made out of fragments of frequencies using multiplying algorythms and sometimes strict frequencies depending on the current situation. It's a static ambience without any instruments and samples, but pure digital sound creating artificial characteristics.
With a more technical and structural view, I would like to call this piece "passive-interactive" as its structure is not navigational and it doesn't offer several different choises for viewers' interactions, but at the same time it will need the viewers interacting with it in order to be "running".
I'm seeing this piece more as "an analysis", than a narrative story. The piece is characteristically abstract and fragmented, creating an aesthetic and emotional athmosphere.