Challenger (2011)

A mirrored box reflects an image of the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion that scrambles and unscrambles in response to the viewer's motion.

Full Description

On January 28, 1986, the main fuel tank of the NASA Space Shuttle Challenger exploded mid flight, causing the breakup of the shuttle and the deaths of all seven astronauts aboard. In the following weeks there was a growing public unease with TV news entities' repetitive broadcasts of the explosion. This discomfort reflected both a distaste for the gratuitous nature of the broadcasts, and an awareness that they were sustained by viewers' horrified fascination.

In this piece, the pixels of an image of the shuttle’s explosion are displaced horizontally and vertically, line by line, devolving the image into a noisy and undulating cloud of light and dark. A video camera captures the movements of the viewer. As the viewer's movements continue, the lines of pixels return to their original positions, reconstituting the image of the disaster. A mirrored box surrounding the screen repeats the image infinitely.

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Artist Statement

My work explores the tensions between people, their image, and their self-image. I use processed real-time video of viewers as a basis for playful, humorous, and sometimes unsettling interactive experiences. Viewers stand before an electronic image and a video camera, forming an optical loop stirred by the curious gravity of narcissism. The video of each viewer is analyzed by software and manipulated, reordered, combined with text, or replaced by found images. As the viewer moves, the image is activated in ways that give pause for reflection. Onlookers witness a range of reactions, from self-conscious inhibition to exuberant abandon.

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