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Urban Mesh: Exploring Data, Biological Processes and Immersion in the Salmon People

Urban Mesh: Exploring Data, Biological Processes and Immersion in the Salmon People

Prophecy Sun, Kristin Carlson, Jim Bizzocchi and Thecla Schiphorst / Argentina, Chile, Colombia
Universidad Nacional de Tres de Febrero, Universidad de Chile Colaboratorio – ParqueExplora
Paper
pdsun@sfu.ca, kca59@sfu.ca, jimbiz@sfu.ca, thecla@sfu.ca

Information systems are continually recontextualizing data, migration patterns, biological components and processes, between life and code. As Geographer Eugene Thacker states, these systems can be scientific, or many things, with lasting effects that are cultural, social, and political. As these systems evolve and grow, so to do the artworks created in the afterglow, becoming vital reflections of our contemporary algorithmically soaked culture. This paper examines these ideas alongside the Salmon People, a video and sound installation thematically concerned with the shared dark ecologies of nonhuman and human animals. The large format projections present a triptych of migrating sockeye salmon across urban landscapes. The prolific artwork purposefully utilizes scale, and multi layered visual fields, to push audiences to consider our shared ecologies. Like information flowing through high tech super highways, sockeye salmon deftly negotiate seen and unseen geographies, technologies, politics, and cultures. In order to understand the artworks content, sequences and layout, as well as the logic of the shot selections, we conducted a close reading analysis of the installation. We suggest that the work is generative and claim that the projections are made up of 9 videos playing concurrently in 3 large vertical panels. This paper examines these ideas, asking the questions: What role does the screen play in the design of this artwork? What are the types of audience immersion and interaction? Finally, we address the work on three levels: the structural, the narrative, and the immersive. The structural level identifies the key frames, and any overlapping frames. The narrative level investigates the 3 vertical panels in relation to story parameters such as plot and storyworld. The immersive level considers how the audience oscillates between a heightened state of immediacy and hypermediation.