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Transcontinental 1860 (2017)


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Currently in-progress, this project is a single channel video installation that incorporates a series of miniature theatrical scrims around the peephole opening, creating a scene through which the video is viewed.
The video is an illustration of the route of the transcontinental Pony Express – a long distance communications network that prefigured the telegraph and the railroad in 1860. Acknowledging the growing necessity of rapid information technology in the mid 19th century, this project takes a trans-media perspective of long-distance communication as the looped video intersplices a hand painted moving panorama of the geographical trail of the Express, with hand drawn text taken from newspapers of the time presented as silent cinema style inter-titles. The installation of the video in the peephole space will be supplemented by a series of scrims. These scrims depict the different communications technologies that were in operation at the same time as the Express (stagecoach, telegraph, railroad) but are integrated with pastoral elements so that all scrims together form a landscape scene through which to watch the video. This scene, that includes iconography from an idealized and mythic American past, adds contextual and physical depth to the experience of the video, showing the Express not as a unique and individual medium, but as part of a system of communications and transportations technologies that were networked together.
This installation is a form of media history, employing distinctly DIY techniques to explore notions of newness in new media and networked communities. In this project, the peepbox installation becomes a metaphor for the type of historical perspective crucial at this moment in which media of all technological sorts structure and discipline our daily lives, and the relentlessness of planned obsolescence creates a false understanding of what is new or necessary as a means to communicate.