I co-authored a proposal to work on a Google Glass project at CalArts. Today the team will present to the Google alongside colleagues from RISD, USC, NYU and UCLA. Here is a transcript of my talk.
Thanks, Google for this peek into the future! I personally would vote for this functionality to be actually embedded. My students groan when I tell them that I’m waiting on my networked molar. That certainly would be convenient.
I will say a few more words about Joseph Cornell. You know him from his sculptural boxes but he also cut experimental films from found footage. Monsieur Phot is made from a sequence of Sterograms from the late 19th century. Cornell cuts the stereo images in half and creates a sequence with street urchins, a Harp player, chandeliers, gaslamps, horse-cars, a sumptuous ballroom, etc. Suddenly as extraordinary and colorful pheasant bursts out of this leaden imagery and a photographer dressed in the style of the 1870 tries to catch it on a glass plate. He fails.
Follow Cornell one more step. The photographer who tries to capture that pheasant winds up with something. He failed to catch the pheasant, but in something strange and lovable came from trying. His desire to capture something as extraordinary as a colorful pheasant is familiar to all of us who work in new technology. Just as familiar is that moment of squeezing the bulb just a little too late.
We have also been talking about changes in how we consume media. Until recently we had a garage full of negatives and hand-printed photographic books made by our friend Morrie Markoff. He shot rolls of film on trips to Europe and Mexico, selected the best, and printed them into books that he made. Some of these books are 70 years old now. They look crisp, the paper is bright, thanks to his care in producing them the images remain as he produced them. He can look them over on his 100th birthday this January and reflect on how -he- has changed, not the media.
Our consumption of media is nothing like Morrie’s. My media is like pebbles dropped in a pool. I send ripples to my people all appropriately placed in circles I defined precisely for this purpose. There is no album, only ripples.
So that I don’t leave you on that melancholy note I’ll tell you a quick love story. I watched plenty of TV when I was a kid. Every day I watched Star Trek and Gilligan’s Island. I was weirdly sensitive to the quality of the image: I knew the difference between the texture of a classy/high value show shot on film and others (Soap Operas!) that were shot on video. I fell in love with the silky image without all that upscale flicker or grain. I didn’t care that she lived on wrong side of town.
You can’t know the new technology until it’s used. You can probably see already that we used Glass in the wrong way. The project grew out of constraints and we chose to use this clean new technology to share the messy images. Join the Hangout and you will see paint covering the nice clean video image and sound derived from the sound of brushes and fingers on glass. I’ll leave it to you to report on the color and habit of the bird that got away.