2008 Rockefeller New Media Foundation Proposal
As a recipient of a Rockefeller New Media Fellowship, I will research and develop a series of "Performative Portraits." These sculptural portraits, contained in bell jars or other containers as physical specimens and small machines, will be brought to life through video projection and kinetics. Historic and contemporary figures that have developed a creative mental space to survive physical confinement will inspire this new work. I will research the creative refuges of people such as Terry Anderson, a hostage held in Iran for ten years, and Janet Frame, a writer who was committed to mental institutions, and others. Unlike a traditional portrait that emphasizes visible, physical characteristics and is instantly recognizable, each of these portraits will reveal the unseen characteristics and history of the person. A lesser known trait, physical malady, or psychological state will become apparent through the synthesis of projected video imagery, objects, and mechanical gestures. In each case, it is the performance and behavior of the object that defines the person. Thus, each portrait coalesces slowly from its seemingly disparate parts, like the plot of a film or novel.