Site-Specific Media Installation: Projection-Mapped Abstract Motion Graphics Animation, Zymoglyphic Sculpture, Natural Materials, Vestibule (Plywood, Fabric, Paint), Chicken Coop, Physical Dimensions Variable, 5:00 (loop)

This piece was made as part of a residency program with the Zymoglyphic Museum, Portland, OR. The small sculpture that is the object of the projection-mapping was made by Jim Stewart, the creator and curator of the Zymoglyphic Museum. Please read more about Jim and the museum here

All the Losses We Could Never Name was a one-person immersive video experience. A small sculpture from the Zymoglyphic Museum was the object of the animation. On a visit to the museum, I recognized that this sculpture, made of two geodes and a piece of driftwood, held in its scale, texture, and form huge potential for activation through animation and projection. Particularly exciting was the cup shape of the geodes. Thinking of filling them and emptying them with light was the starting point for the animation strategy. 

Gallery 1122 Outside is in the backyard of one of the two galleriests’ home. The small chicken coop there has become a bit of a video space, complete with a handful of cushioned log stools. To start work on the animation, I first took measurements of the coop so that I could re-create the dimensions in my studio. I build a projector mount that would transfer relativley easily from my studio to the coop, allowing me to precisely control the exact placement of the projector in relation to the sculpture. With projection-mapping, everything has to be perfect.

The yard around the coop is covered in pine needles and cones. I wanted to bring some of that material into the coop as a way of marrying the projection environment to the place. In the studio, I surrounded the sculpture
with pine cone petals I’d collected on a hike so that I could animate with the debris present. In order for all these elements to be unified, they had to be considered from the start.

For the final installation, the video needed to be insulated from the daylight and light from the house. After considering a few options, I chose to build a vestibule from wood with a curtain for an entrance. This made the piece a one-person viewing environment. Providing shelter, the vestibule signaled that this was a rarified space. While inside, you could hear all that was going on around you - humans, animals, the wind, etc. - but you remained undistrubed.

The intallation became an unexpected sociological experiment. At gallery events, people
 waited their turn beneath the large pine tree. Some of those who had not seen the work yet  questioned those who had about what to expect. Some read the artist statement. When someone emerged from the vestibule after viewing, they bore an expression of pleasurable disorientation. They remained in that state, not speaking much, for several minutes. Eventually, they might verbalize what their experience had been like. Usually, these descriptions were short which signaled to me that they prefered to keep the experience mostly an internal one. Indeed, this work is beyond language. It requires deeply introspective processing to achieve an understanding throrough enough that it might be possible to describe in words what happened.

All the Losses We Could Never Name


This piece means a lot to me. In the end, however, that meaning is primarily a vehicle for making the work. If I balance everything out well, the particular narrative is largely erased, leaving behind the feeling of meaningfulness. The work remains open for others to create their own meaning according to their experience. 

A few helpful ways posts:
  • The focal object is a small sculpture from the Zymoglyphic Museum. Formed and shaped according to their particular natural environments, the sculpture’s component parts of geodes and driftwood were then discovered and selected several times over by different people each of whom invested care and attention in them. Now they wait for your attention and care.
  • The animation is made with great specificity to the sculpture’s form, the projection environment, and my own personhood during the time in which it was made.
  • The vestibule designates a special space for the work, providing the necessary darkness and sense of shelter.

All the Losses We Could Never Name isn’t trying to sell you anything. It just asks you to look and feel and to be actively aware of the processes by which we look and feel. And, maybe we can keep trying to do that after we’ve left the gallery.


© 2024 Pamela Hadley