"Protest" a screaMachine 2004 proposal for:
8th Annual D.U.M.B.O.
Art Under the Bridge Festival

"Protest" is a work with two interacting elements. The first element is a group of three video projections on buildings, depicting crowds protesting the Iraqi war in New York City. They are accompanied by looped protest chants. The second element features a car roving the area, projecting images from the same protest rallies, but this time concentrating on the police interactions with the crowd. Sounds from police houdhailers, sirens etc. also emanate from the car. The three projections are fixed and continue uninterrupted until the roving car drives by and blasts the images of the police over the existing images and upsets the chanting with its noise. The installation component will continue into the night. The Drive-By component will happen sporadically in that time period.
Video projection component: three projectors illuminate the three open walls of buildings on the corner of Jay Street and Water Street. Each projects similar, but not identical, video sequences depicting protestors rallying against the war in Iraq. The montage of semi-animated images in high-contrast black & white throw emphasis on the graphical nature of the protest signage and to the ebb and flow of the protestors accompanied by their chants
"V.R.A.G." (video remix artillery gun)., a device created by the artist, combines a data projector, a custom MIDI controller and a swivel mount. When connected to a computer, the artist can control the direction of the projection beam and the video content by "playing" the video clips like a MIDI musician plays a synthesizer. Video and audio are output from this system.
"Protest" uses a series of animated video clips made available for instant playback via the MIDI controller switches on the V.R.A.G. (inside the roving car). These clips will be mixed live by the artist as he projects them around the area. Similar clips make up the projections in the installation.
The artist shot many hours of footage at the various anti war rallies in New York City from February 2003 to the Republican National Convention in August 2004. This footage was then time remapped in an animation program such that it pauses and zooms onto significant frames every second. If these frames are 2 seconds apart, then those 2 seconds pass in 1 second, if they are 1 minute apart, then a minute is compressed into 1 second, and equally smaller time segments are expanded to fit the 1 second template.
The footage is then sorted and arranged into clips to be played back from a video sampler via MIDI (in the case of the V.R.A.G. in the car) or to be played in sequences (as in the case of the three projection installation). Each clip is combined with an appropriate audio field recording: protest chants for marchers and banners, cop sirens and loud hailer commands for police footage.
Once loaded into the sampler, each clip can be played at any time and in any order, sped up, slowed down, player forward/backward etc. The artist makes these editing decisions live, alongside choosing where the projection beam hits.
The chaotic dynamic of the protest, with its cacophony and immersive, surrounding action is recreated in the installation space. The animated video clips appear like still images that can be navigated through, with strange motion, giving an hyperreal sense of space, time and environment.
The use of stark, high-contrast black and white further enhances the polarity of the imagery: the opposing forces, the peacemakers versus the riot cops, freedom versus containment, chants versus commands etc. These forces clash each time the roving car passes by and projects into the installation.
The viewers are those who chance upon either the installation or the roving car, preferably both. They interact with both; entering into the installation space, surrounded by chanting; hearing the approach of sirens, only to suddenly be immersed it images of riot cops and then passed by. The protestors hold their spot, available for viewing over time; the police make incursions into the space, and rove the neighborhood, violating every street with their brutal images and noise.
Map of D.U.M.B.O. area featuring location of installation
V.R.A.G. in studio


© Gearóid Dolan, 2004. All rights reserved