iamnowhere: An Interactive Art Exhibit

Completion Date: 
2006
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It was an open-ended prompt. Beginning with a typographic concept that could produce two vastly different readings, “I am nowhere” or “I am now here,” the assignment was to create an interactive experience that would play off of this duality. I choose to create an interface for viewing images that I grouped as signifying either meaning: You are now here, or nowhere. My database of images drew upon two corresponding sets of images one drawn from persuasive, opulent luxury advertising and the other from documentary photography of refugee camps. Sorting through piles of images, I began to notice small visual similarities images that were seemingly worlds apart. A man standing among bombed out shells of buildings in Bosnia wore a silver watch, as did a model in an advertisement for David Yurman. Picking out subtle similarities in clothing and hand gesture, I began to map out and pair elements of the two sets. With these starkly contrasting pairs of images, I blurred out all details save for their visual commonalities. As the user rolls over the blurred portions the remainder of the image becomes focused. With this action the type “i am nowhere” placed at the center of the screen and rendered all in gray, animates in color to reveal the corresponding reading. “i am now here,” for the advertisements, or “i am nowhere”, for refugee photos. Clicking on an image triggers the playback of a brief animation: a broader view of the image is slowly revealed and then decays into black. Upon selection, a small thumbnail representing the image appears in a grid below the pair of images. Then a successive pair of images replaces the prior pair and the process begins anew. At the culmination of six sets of images, the grid of thumbnails fills with images including those that were not selected. At this stage, clicking on an individual thumbnail will load the original image, focused and cropped to show the entire image, as well as text about the content.

While the subtle political-cultural commentary of this piece was accomplished predominantly through the careful use of images, the incorporation of motion, specifically motion triggered by user action, was as important to delivering the overall message. In this manner, motion became a key means of communication. Action enabled the revelation of key visual details but also advanced the stream of images. User-driven motion, slowly delivered the encompassing
narrative of the project.

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