Psithaura - SXSW

Installation Premiere | University of Southern California| Los Angeles, California | April 2018

1/17

Synopsis

      The natural world is burning. Psithaura is a ritualized experience inspiring reflection on our relationship to nature. It asks how we frame nature in the current geological age where human activity has been the dominant influence on the environment. Through collaborative gestural participation, the installation awakens, transforming the gallery into a communal meditative space. Breath and C02 manipulate the visuals in real-time, producing direct feedback about the current state of this relationship.

 

Director : Evan Tedlock

Interactive Designer and Engineer : Keshav Prasad

Composer : Jaco Wong

Sound Designers : NoctVRnal

 

Director Biography

Animation artist Evan Tedlock’s work stands in opposition to the ubiquitous and aggressive epileptic nature of commercial media. His immersive experiences of the sublime have a slow developing rhythm which allows the viewer’s mind to wander. Referencing philosophical ideas by the likes of Edmund Burke and Thomas Merton, Tedlock’s projects distill high concepts into a simple complexity of geometric shapes and organic textures. His mixed media approach to pieces like Eternal Return (2015) and Affect (2016) create a mystical atmosphere ripe for contemplation. Currently, Tedlock is experimenting with generative processes and performance.

 

Exhibitions:

- Graduate Exhibition | Installation | April 27-29, 2018 | The University of Southern California| Los Angeles, California

- Byte of Science | Presentation | July 11, 2018 | Hamed Mirzaei Foundation | Wurstküche | Los Angeles, California

- Summer Series | Music Performance by KC Vitas | August 3, 2018 | Atonement Lutheran Church | Overland Park, Kansas

- Summer Series | Music Performance by KC Vitas | August 5, 2018 | Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church | Kansas City, Missouri

- Balance-Unbalance 2018 | Installation | September 20-21, 2018 | V2 Lab for the Unstable Media | Rotterdam, Netherlands

 

Press:

- June 19, 2018 | Derivative TouchDesigner Blog | 'USC Students Drive Interactive Installation Psithaura with Breath and Cooperation'

 

Director Statement

I felt an urgency last Spring, following the seismic socio-political shift in the United States, to create an experience that broadens the conversation surrounding climate change. Through my emergent process of stillness, iteration, inspiration, and production, Psithaura has become my own statement on our collective relationship with nature.

 

     Urgency
Recent rollbacks of several United States environmental protections in conjunction with a general denial of scientific facts about climate change has created political gridlock. How can we move towards a solution when so many people, policymakers, voters, and citizens of the world, refuse to accept verifiable facts? When facts fail how can we debate or discuss a divisive subject? This installation uses fundamental traits of media and design thinking to address this issue by creating a visceral experience appealing to the deeper self, foregoing facts for feelings. We are a part of the natural world. In highlighting this inescapable connection and by referencing the harmonious cohabitation we have enjoyed for millennia; this project brings to the forefront the truth of humanities origins in nature. Emphasizing our co-dependence will promote a better understanding of the social value of responsible environmental stewardship.

 

     Philosophy
Heidegger in his essay Questions Concerning Technology gives warning about the dangers of viewing the world through the lens of technology. He claims that as we see the world this way we begin to understand everything as a resource. This becomes problematic when this view broadens to include not only, for instance, trees as a resource but also the lumberjack, the carpenter, the retail clerk as resources themselves; merely a means to an end. What we lose is our understanding of the true essences of the entities that surround us. And so, by Heidegger’s line of thinking, we dehumanize ourselves. Thankfully, we are not left in this dark thought. He posits that there is a way to shift our perspectives and reclaim our understanding of the true essences of our world. Through art and poiesis, we can begin to see things for what they are. With this as a philosophical foundation Psithaura attempts to give flora a new means of expression that reframes nature as a coexistent entity to be seen and heard, rather than as a resource to be merely regulated.

 

      Results 
After exhibiting for three days, we had several people explain to use the transformative feelings that the experience conjured up in them. Many stressed students went through Psithaura and came out the other end relaxed and recharged. The most common reaction was an inability to fully describe what they had seen or felt. Most found it profoundly moving and they were more aware of their connection to the other participants during their experience. This indescribable quality is one of pure feeling which is why so many of our viewers lacked the words to describe it. Incidentally, this is also the very same place where climate change deniers are making their decisions. They rely on their gut rather than reason. Feelings born of fear and the unknown, or unwillingness to sacrifice current lifestyles. In emphasizing feeling over fact with this project, we hope to open up those holding fast to their negative feelings so that together we can discuss how best to live in harmony with our environment. 

©2020 Evan Tedlock

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