projects about teaching blog subdivided dean terry

alt7 : culture, media, politics, technology, edited by Dean Terry

October 30, 2005

Mobile Video Phone Art Project | mo.vid.1 | video painting


mobile phone video artmo.vid.1" is a mobile video project that updates every time a video is sent from my mobile phone to the gallery, often several times a day. The display changes as new videos are sent from the phone, though wireless networks, and to a computer in the gallery. These are micro videos, fifteen seconds long, made wherever I happen to be. They are projected on a large, vertical wall. A second projection high above the first plays previous videos in random order.

The project is centered on the idea of remapping private spaces into public ones, of reversing scale, of inverting and rejecting the consumerist idea of "quality" and its technological expression in ever higher resolutions by exploiting the limits of the devices. (The videos are really pretty poor with all the compression artifacts, and these limitations are exposed by using two Apple Mac G5's to drive the system and two high resolution projectors to display it)

In addition to the videos updating in the gallery space, they also appear online at

The project also examines what it means to project very private space immediately surrounding the body into meta-space. Many of the videos show objects little more than a few centimeters beyond the tiny lens, often some body part, like hands or forearms that obscure an unknown, overexposed background space. Other pieces are gestural performances, recording the movements required when following a line, or when trying to create shapes by moving the camera in certain ways.

Traditional paintings are often created over a long period. This project is atomistic and performative. The bits (individual 15 second videos) pile up over time, and the composite, the themes, are the paintings - collections of idea streams, are captured in development, in process. This is a real time art piece, and so the themes are being worked out over the course of two months. The next iteration of this project will use different strategies and develop new themes.

At the end of this version I may end up with one or two or three pieces, and some fragments and discards, like sketches. "Pieces" may be collections of 4-12 short videos, which can be recombined in different ways.

mobile video artHow it works
Each video gets sent from the phone to three places: two go to computers in the exhibition space, one goes to

In the gallery are two Apple Macintosh Dual 2.7 gHz G5's and Two Dell 5100p projectors. All the major equipment was kindly provided as a loan for the exhibition. When a video is made on the mobile phone (a Motorola v710) it is sent to three email addresses. One of them is picked up by an email program (Eudora) and the video is placed into a folder where a folder script, written for this project by Jill Headen and Tim Klein, grabs it and plays it full screen, looping back and forth. It continues to loop until another video is placed in the folder. The second machine drives the upper projector and works in a similar manner, only it plays each video sent to date and plays them randomly once. Finally, the third email sends the video to where it is updated instantly. The site is built with Wordpress by Creative Arena and uses a special Quicktime plugin.

Basically I view all of this as a platform for creating and publishing/exhibiting spontaneous work on a mobile device. The system will grow and change over time. The next major iteration (mo.vid.2) will allow people to subscribe to the video pieces directly so that they arrive on their phones.

Future versions of mo.vid will allow individuals to "subscribe" directly to the mobile videos thereby creating a one-to-many publishing and distribution model. This idea is in line with the trajectory of all content industries which are in the irreversible process of bypassing established institutions and structures and developing the idea of freely distributed personal media: mobile, variable, interactive, automated.


Finally, the idea is to open up the gallery space, to tear down the walls through networks and software. All content industries are struggling with 20th century notions of content control. It's all about opening these up - allowing outside influence into the whitened sterility of the gallery and museum space, about making things change in there. It's about exhibiting uncertainty and the stops and starts of process.

I can post anything to the walls of the space. They must trust me.


The piece is part of a show called Moving Pictures at the Dallas Center for Contemporary Art that opens Friday November 4th. The basic idea is that some video can work in the way that painting works: as an object of intermittent contemplation, rather than media like television and film requiring dedicated, sequential viewing.

John Pomara and I co-curated the show and several of the artists are current or former students. There is a kind of critical mass of "video painters" coming out of UTD and our aim is to introduce this kind of work to the Dallas art community, as we think this is one of the strands that will define the future of art in the region. At the moment, no one is really sure what to do with it - how to exhibit, sell, or even talk about it. This show should help remedy that deficiency.


Posted by Dean Terry at 03:58 PM Comments & Permalink (2)

October 16, 2005

Fragile Cities: The Price of Living Large


Published in the Dallas Morning News Points Section Sunday October 16, 2005


Rising gasoline prices have many people questioning their commuting lifestyle, and with good reason. Will working downtown and living fifty or seventy five miles away still make sense when gas prices are $4, $5, or $6 a gallon? Maybe “Big D” is a little too big.

Katrina and Rita have demonstrated for us just how delicate the situation is, and Bush himself has called it “fragile.” A blip in our energy supply threatens the entire system, dependent as it is on enormous amounts of cheap energy.

This calls into question basic ideas about how to build and organize cities. If everything is separated from everything else, continually further away and totally dependent on automobiles to make it function, what happens if there’s a problem with the energy supply? The whole idea rests on the assumption that oil will always be cheap and abundant, and both of these assumptions are no longer valid.

Gasoline is up 72% in the last year. Natural gas, used to heat the new homes that are twice the average size of homes built in the seventies, has risen 143%. This is not a temporary situation. Oil is no longer abundant, and many of the largest oil fields are “maturing.” Chevron has acknowledged in a recent PR campaign that “the world consumes two barrels of oil for every barrel discovered.” And even president Bush, in rare form, has asked Americans to conserve in the aftermath of hurricane Rita.

The truth is that we’re drunk on oil and intoxicated with scale. The imagined “bigness” we pride ourselves on here in Dallas is in actuality a weakness. The city marketing slogan “Live Large” is really an invitation to live precariously in a world that depends entirely on the exploitation of fossil fuels.

And insofar as our national security rests on financial stability, this dependency is dangerous. It destabilizes us politically, and we are obliged to compete globally for energy resources. With an energy hungry consumer class rapidly emerging in China, is this a game we really want to play?

Continue reading "Fragile Cities: The Price of Living Large"

Posted by Dean Terry at 06:30 AM Comments & Permalink (0)

October 01, 2005

The iPod Generation: Born to be Separated



I came across this advertisement while the newest version of iTunes was installing in to my computer.

At first I thought these two healthy specimens were listening to two different iPods, which is probably how they met. But they are sharing a single device. Both walking along, audible world turned off, matching Gap denim. Nature and marketing taking their course.

The young woman looks at you, and has her hand gently and suggestively on the thin cord. They are outdoors - a rarity nowadays. But the sounds of the world are coming in mono, sans the production value of the sounds in the other. The suspension bridge intersects with her eyes and the kiss being delivered to her ear by a mostly obscured male interest. Maybe he’s trying to whisper the words of the song, or smells the sea in her hair.

She pinches a little tighter on the cable, the absurdity that dominates the image. Creating a snaking white line from her ass, traversing the belly and into her shaped hand, it then appropriately splits, traveling to opposing ears of the two supposed lovers.

In a few years this advertisement will date itself very precisely. Not because of the clothes or the graphical design. It will date itself because of the cord. Like the decayed plants and animals that run our cars, the cord shows just how crude the technology still is. A cord? But as the cable and the product disappear into chips in our heads (or asses), the image becomes all-important. Who it allows us to be, since most of our personalities are the color of moldy brown Play-Doh.

The image seduces. It says: we’re carefree. We’re outdoors; we’re in San Francisco, not some craphole like Atlanta or Houston, where it smells like pesticides rather than herbal essences and salt water.

If we accept this condition, this splitting, this dual monaural soloing, maybe there’s something we can make of it. Musicians could start making recordings for people who share their iPods. Maybe both channels are the same. Maybe they are completely different, like in early stereo recordings by the Beatles.

Maybe they are themed, or simply reflect different tastes. The guy can listen to something abrasive, the girl can listen to something romantic. Or they can switch, or mix and match. Or they can hear pre-recorded versions of things they would like to say directly but are too shy to perform. Or maybe some expert communicator can record appropriate phrases for them. Little nothings.

At least that way they will remain in their comfort zone of mutual isolation, back to when they were just silhouettes in the previous ads. Indistinct, separate. Random. Dancing alone.


Posted by Dean Terry at 11:40 AM Comments & Permalink (0)




This month's book