Friday, July 25, 2008

Living Environment as Projector - Michael Naimark


This entry is about an intriguing film installation called, "Displacements" the idea of which was conceived twenty one years ago by Michael Naimark. In his work, Naimark ingeniously captures a space on film and projects it back into the same space using motion (camera+projector rotating at same speed).

An archetypal Americana living room was installed in an exhibition space. Then two performers were filmed in the space using a 16mm motion picture camera on a slowly rotating turntable in the room’s center.

After filming, the camera was replaced with a film loop projector and the entire contents of the room were spray-painted white. This was to make a projection screen of the whole room that was the right shape for projecting everything back onto itself (a la Laurie Anderson). The result was that everything appears strikingly 3D, except for the people, who of course weren’t spray-paint white, and consequently appeared very ghostlike and unreal.

Displacements was produced three times between 1980 and 1984. The final production was held at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 1984.

Twenty-one years later, in 2005, the artist’s long-time friend and colleague, Brenda Laurel, cajoled him into a redux. The young couple in the original living room are now middle age with a teenage daughter. Mom is still pensive, Dad still watches TV, and the daugther is curious.

Displacements 2005 was shot and projected in digital video rather than 16mm film, which, it turns out, according to the artist, “was much more challenging”. Here is a video of that version of the installation:

If you cannot see the video above, please click HERE.

Naimark has published two very interesting papers relating to this work, “Two Unusual Projection Spaces” , and "Spatial Correspondence in Motion Picture Display"
SPIE Proceedings, vol. 462, Optics and Entertainment, Los Angeles, 1984.

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Stacy Alexander