[Forgotten Landscape] TEMPO 2017 Proposal

Forgotten Landscapes
by James Hughes and Ha Na Lee

Forgotten Landscapes portrays a series of deserted Austin city landscapes which will be shot at the last-known whereabouts of a missing person. Based on local news archives and the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs), the piece revisits several cold cases related to women, children, and minorities.
The landscapes are carefully devoid of any human activity or interaction, and place the audience in a panoptic viewpoint with which to inspect the scene.
Forgotten Landscapes is an interactive machine which plays back video and generates light in the public space. The piece is typically experienced by one individual at a time. Without the audience’s participation, the piece won’t properly function.

The piece is modeled after Edison’s kinetoscope which is an early motion picture viewing device. The small viewing machine has a ground glass viewfinder with which to watch the 360 degree videos of landscape. The audience navigates the video by turning a hand crank on the side of the machine. The rate of cranking determines the speed of playback, and the brightness, of the video as well as a top-mounted light beam. The light beam pulses out the missing person’s report encoded as Morse code, beaming it into the sky.

The piece is highly mobile and flexible in terms of siting. We’ve proposed a site for the piece where we believe there is substantial foot traffic, but the piece could be re-sited multiple times during the installation period. The footage at each location will be drawn from the Council District in which the piece is currently located.

Each unit is self-contained, so installation consists of installing a single earth anchor per unit. The unit is attached to the earth anchor using a ratchet strap which is concealed inside the vertical post of the unit. Three units will be installed per site, and they will be grouped near each another.