Chris Kaczmarek is an artist whose work overlaps multiple disciplines both traditional and bleeding edge. With training in metalwork, ceramics as well as video, circuit‐bending and solar electronics, Kaczmarek's work often presents questions about the role of technology in our everyday lives. His work is built from technology old and new, including interactive hand‐built circuit sound boxes adapted from old lunch boxes, first aid kits and toys; masterfully crafted metal forms with solar powered sound components; and interactive video exhibits where invisible technologies are revealed for the viewer to examine and even question. Kaczmarek is Assistant Director of the School of Art & Design at Purchase College, SUNY, and teaches in the sculpture department.
Upon entering the space, a tall blue form is revealed and the faint whine of mechanics occupies the room. The blue form is rough, industrial and unfinished. At almost seven feet tall it is oddly not dominating as it is unlit but for the reflection from the projected image. As the blue form is investigated, the fact that it is slowly rotating and the simple but elegant mechanism causing that rotation is discovered.
Now inside the room, further investigation of the installation reveals two closed circuit television cameras tucked unassuming in the corner. Graceful contraptions made of wood and steel mechanically pan the cameras across the surface of the blue form. These cameras and the blue form are the source of the otherworldly abstract video.
The viewer first encounters the video, or more specifically a mediated reality, abstract and unformed it is open to broad interpretation. This reality is constrained to the composition created by the camera, whose focus is outside of the control of the viewer. In fact, taken alone, the video could possibly be a recording, from another time, the remnant or the document of an event past.
Upon entry into the space and having a direct experience of the blue form, the viewer is presented with an unmediated reality. The totality of the physical object is revealed and scale and material become apparent. This is the object. Undistorted and presented without the filter of any curated mediation.
Finally the loop is closed with the consideration of the mechanism that mediates the transition between the form and the image. The mechanically controlled cameras that negotiate a dialogue between reality and the representation of reality. Creating a forced perspective through the control of the composition, alien representation through lighting outside of the visible spectrum and distortion through variable focus and a reinterpretation of the aspect ratio, these cameras play a role of importance that is downplayed by their positioning and scale.
As we consider the world around us, it is important to consider the relationship between what is presented to us and what is reality, and the mechanisms for mediation between the two. Media has made our world smaller, allowing us to feel connected to people, cultures and events on a global scale. Yet we are at times incomplete in our understanding as we are offered information that is curated through not only a process of selection but through the medium in which it is delivered. In this installation the trio of elements, the video projection, the rotating blue form and the panning cameras create a dialogue between the real, the mediated and the mechanism for mediation. Three parts that are all focused on creating a specific experience, like a trio of musicians playing a composition, but the experience is discordant through its elements.
Scene one: The video jumps through a glitched version of Chris Marker’s film, La Jetée. The audio is made up of single words triggered by each step on the stairs. These words are grabbed randomly from banks of five samples that are assigned to each individual step. These sample banks follow the timeline of the movie from the start at the bottom till the end at the top.
Scene two: Each step triggers an electronic bleep/bloop that is either higher or lower in pitch depending on the weight of the impact on the step. The video is a 3D object onto which the waveform of the captured impact from the step is mapped. Each waveform travels down the object from top to bottom.
Scene three: Piano samples play with each footfall. Each stair step is assigned a different key, from high notes at the top to low notes at the bottom. The video reacts to each step with a changing field of color and texture.