Meri's Room: perfection can only be simulated

Following up on my last post about real vs simulated surveillance, another vein of simulation I explored last semester was the strong pull of beauty and simplicity, and whether either are achievable.

In response to that question and influenced by the humor of Unhappy Hipsters, I created Meri's Room, an installation in my SMFA studio. I presented the simulation of a modernist space that on the surface displayed all of the proper and acceptable materials, surfaces and proportions of good taste. 

What was real was only the simulation – the time, labor and money spent. The room was constructed of materials from hardware and art supply stores, crafted with an untrained hand, yet done in the vernacular and grammar of modernism. 
It spoke to the ultimate failure of modernism and designers’ aspirations to become “thoughtful host anticipating his guests” (Charles Eames).  The room was void of any joyful expression except for the occupants’ choice of a few select objects and the guided meditation taking the participant on an inner journey to her own room where she is safe, comforted and able to free herself from her concerns. 

Perfection, as it turns out, can only be simulated; it’s an unachievable non-reality.

More images on the gallery pages.


Video – satisfying the image-maker and storyteller in me; watching/being watched

I used to be one of those people who gave art videos a 30 second watch and then walked away. So last semester, my first at SMFA/Tufts, I decided to stretch myself. I took a video class to learn the techniques of shooting and editing video…and to try to understand conceptual video art. 

In my first videos I simulated surveillance, in particular watching and being watched. In retrospect it was a natural instinct…I was suddenly “in control” of what images I was recording and displaying. (Background: my father is an ex-reporter; I’ve been on the fringes of PR/outreach in prior jobs; I’ve witnessed how easily the truth can become muddled and how difficult it can be to report what is “real” without bias.) My subject matter was also greatly influenced by a chance meeting and subsequent clearance to a surveillance center. Meanwhile, in the studio, I was simultaneously exploring “real” in a sculptural installation.

So what is real in surveillance and the watching/watched dynamic? What is real is the complex situation we as a society are able to practice – at once a complicit participation in surveillance and, on the other hand, a consistent disregard for uncomfortable circumstances. What exactly are we looking for and why don’t we see what is right in front of us?

I’ll continue my exploration of video. It satisfies the two sides in me: the geeky, quasi- journalist and the picture maker who loves a sexy image. 

Note: Unfortunately, I don’t have clearance to show these videos yet. Here are a few stills from a three channel installation to pique your curiosity...