JAMES COUPE
art projects
(re)collector
Categories: Art

Commission: Enter_ Festival, Cambridge, UK
Exhibition: The Junction, Cambridge, UK 24th – 27th April, 2007; 911 Media Center, Seattle USA 12th September – 31st October, 2008
Materials: Computers, cameras, electronics, projector
Description: Julio Cortazar’s short story ‘Las Babas del Diablo’ involves a photographer who witnesses a young man and a woman together in a park. It explores the way in which the camera selectively interprets reality. People become characters, places become locations, everyday objects become storytelling devices.

Standing outside the camera’s frame, observing the scene, we can directly compare reality with its image. If we step into the frame of the image, we transition from subject to object and become part of the story. To then see that image is to witness the only part of reality that we cannot experience first-hand: ourselves acting as an object in the world.

(re)collector is a public art installation that generates films by using Cortazar’s story as a template. A network of cameras is installed around the city, programmed to recognize ‘cinematic behaviors’ corresponding to sequences in ‘Blow Up’, Michelangelo Antonioni’s film adaptation of Cortazar’s story.

Each day, computer vision software analyzes the captured footage from the cameras. The software then reorganizes it into a narrative sequence, based upon matches to lines from Cortazar’s original text. These films (samples below), generated according to the story’s logic, are then projected back into the city center.

As new footage is captured by the cameras, it replaces and juxtaposes the existing narrative sequences. The story mutates, becoming retold each day, altering the context of people’s actions. Gradually, people in the city began to modify their behavior in order to regain control of their image, blurring the boundaries between performance/reality, subject/object, observer/observed.

Credits: With thanks to DXARTS, Eli Shechtman, Noel Paul, Allison Kudla, Spherico
Technical: This project used an algorithm developed by Eli Shechtman, called Space-time behavioral correlation. Using a series of templates of specific behaviors it can detect when people replicate specific actions – walking, running, etc. Cameras would record video clips whenever movement was detected, and the clips would be tagged for behaviors. Blow Up was split up according to its edits and each clip was manually tagged according to behaviors and locations. The text from Cortazar’s short story was also tagged for behaviors and locations, and then a Python script compared all tags and generated an xml file that was imported into Final Cut Pro, where the final video was then generated.
Reviews/News: Mark B. N. Hansen, “From Fixed to Fluid”
Aesthetica
ArtWeek
ChapmanChapman
We Make Money Not Art
Digital Arts Online
BBC News
Saatchi Gallery
Cambridge Evening News
Screening at Olympia Film Society
Exhibition at 911 Media Center
IMAGES: image reco_flyer coupe_recollector2 reco3
VIDEOS: image reco_flyer coupe_recollector2 reco3

Categories: Art -