Entangled was commissioned for installation at The Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco for New Experiments in Art & Technology, 2015
In Utterback’s Entangled installation, participants interact with imagery projected onto two sides of a set of translucent scrims, which hang in the center of the installation space. Movements in the interaction areas on each side of the scrims cause imagery to appear, move, and disappear on the corresponding side’s projection.
When participants’ motions are traced onto both sides of the scrims, a shifting visual apparition emerges. The imagery projected from each side of the installation bleeds through the scrims, merging into a shared visual surface. The light catching on both sides of each layer of fabric creates a tangible perceptual depth and volumetric complexity, not typical of projection surfaces.
As participants co-create the double-sided diaphanous projection, they also see each other through the scrims as murky physical presences. While the digital screens and surfaces that proliferate in our lives often remove us from our physical environment and the people around us, Entangled reminds us of our embodied relationships, requiring participants to literally view each other through a screen.
In Entangled, participants’ sense of control of the multi-layered fabric surface is more complicated than the absolute control implied by our typical digital interfaces. Since participants’ movements on one side of the scrims are only reflected in that side’s projection, the overlapping imagery in the fabric becomes a mutually negotiated space.
Images of computer cables, ear-buds, ropes or other kinds of cords are deposited along participants’ trajectories through the installation. These visual tangles of cables and cords can be pushed across the projection surface by a second person’s movements. Residues of color accumulate as a cord or cable attempts to move back to its initial position after being displaced.
The lush and abstract swaths of pixels that evolve over time, are continually punctuated by new accumulations of the knots of ropes and wires.
The radiating and undulating forms evoke blooming flowers or vines. Alternatively they can be seen as more sinister implements of physical restraint. These alternating impressions hint at both the delicious seduction of our technological devices, and their potential risks.
The title of the work, Entangled, refers to the merging of participant’s physical traces on scrims in the installation, and also our ongoing emotional entanglement with digital systems in our lived environment.
For more videos and essays check out the NEAT digital catalog.