In late 1831, a volcanic island suddenly erupted off the southern coast of Sicily. A number of European powers laid claim to the newfound “land,” but the island receded six months later, leaving only a rocky ledge under the sea. Through its intersecting utopic visions and depictions of possession, “Lampedusa” also considers those who traverse the sea today in search of an elusive solid land.
Caught between a past no longer viable and a future not certain, Germany’s Ruhr (aka Ruhrpott, das Revier) is a landscape full of spatial and temporal disjunctures. For those unfamiliar, the Ruhr was arguably the former industrial heartland of Germany —mostly mining and steel production—reaching its peak production in the mid-20th century before experiencing a slow, steady, but also uneven decline in second tier industry over the past fifty years. “Three Landscapes” is a video triptych and media installation that offers a perceptual experience of the Ruhr’s “specious present,” in which a passage of time, the recent past and the near future, are brought together and made palpable within the duration of the exhibition space.
“People’s Park” is a 78-minute single shot documentary that immerses viewers in an unbroken journey through a famous urban park in Chengdu, Sichuan Province.
The film explores the dozens of moods, rhythms, and pockets of performance coexisting in tight proximity within the park’s prismatic social space, capturing waltzing couples, mighty sycamores, karaoke singers, and buzzing cicadas in lush 5.1 surround sound.
A sensory meditation on cinematic time and space, “People’s Park” offers a fresh gaze at public interaction, leisure and self-expression in China.
In the summer of 1989, picturesque Prince William Sound in southern Alaska became the scene of a multi-billion dollar, multi-institutional “cleanup” operation. A few months before, just after midnight on March 24, an Exxon-owned tanker carrying Prudhoe Bay crude oil had run aground on a reef well outside its shipping lane, ultimately releasing some 10 to 40 million gallons, causing one of the worst environmental disasters in history. The botched response effort by Exxon and Alyeska Pipeline and the shocking sights of oil-smothered wildlife and oil-ridden beaches set off extraordinary amounts of imaging and storytelling, for use in upcoming litigation and nightly news broadcasts. For the summer at least, the lower 48 mourned with Alaskans.
“Cleanup” by Kyle Parry, a member of metaLAB@Harvard, exposes an unusual byproduct of the spill: a roughly 777-gigabyte, 56-hour digital archive of videos produced by state and federal agencies from the first days of the catastrophe through the end of 1990. “Cleanup” gathers fragments of this intractable archive into shifting assemblages of violence, deception, performance, and resilience. “Cleanup” was installed in the Lightbox Gallery of the Harvard Art Museums in April of 2015 as part of an investigation of how technology can help us visualize, explore, and play with large fields of information. The project explores in moving image installation what Parry’s dissertation explores in writing: how diverse forms of media assemblage can facilitate—and disrupt—memory and engagement around large-scale events.