Connie – Personal Blog 03/22

This week we’re starting on the website, which in process started with creating an information architecture, and now a CSV. I noticed for Outdoor Recreation Archive they have an inventory spreadsheet.

On another note, something unplanned occurred while I was doing research about the exhibit “Computer Films of the 1960s” the Museum of Moving History held. I noticed on their website there was a screening called “As Mine Exactly“, held by Charlie Shackleton. There was a small description of the event, but it looked like some kind of desktop documentary from what I could tell.

I signed up for this viewing under the assumption it would be in a theatre playing a desktop documentary, but instead, upon arrival on Friday, I was placed in a room with Charlie himself while I wore a VR headset. The headset played the desktop documentary while Charlie narrated himself in the room. The recorded phrases from his mother played from a speaker behind my head. It was a unique and interesting form of storytelling, as it was an intimate moment with someone else, but with a piece of machinery in between us. It felt personal, and yet I knew it wasn’t, because he had done this performance about 60 times with different people.

In the VR headset, it was a desktop screen that showed photos of his mother, scans of journal pages documenting her seizures, and video recordings of her seizures taken by him to show to the doctor treating her.

In my last blog post I ruminated over the idea of technology simultaneously aiding and destroying our existence. However after this experience, it also reminded me of how one can use computers in such a way to create intimate moments with another, and also use it as a tool to process trauma.

Before it was an artistic project, I talked to a friend about having been a child, having observed my mom’s seizures, and ultimately having filmed a number of them for medical observation. This friend instantly made the connection between that and me being a documentary filmmaker. My initial reaction was, “No, absolutely not. It’s too sensitive to me and it’s too personal.

Once I started interrogating that thought, I realized that I found the idea that I could take this incredibly intimate material and release it into a content ecosystem in which it can be consumed in any number of ways, with any amount of engagement, empathy or a lack thereof, off-putting. For much of the work I’ve made, that’s exactly the kind of unpredictable lack of control I want for its artistic possibilities. With As Mine Exactly, it felt irresponsible, both to me and my mom and also to a viewer, to put something sensitive out into the world with no assurance that it would be received in an ethical way.

Charlie Shackleton interview “Strengthening Bonds”