This 2-sided projection piece combines Theodor Adorno's mid-fifties analysis of popular astrology with a running archive of the Daily Horoscope from Astrology.com.
In the essay “The Stars Down to Earth”, Theodor Adorno analyzed the content and devices of the Los Angeles Times’ astrology column from a period of several months in 1952 and 1953. Adorno described how the column played upon the narcissistic tendencies of its readers, cultivating their psychological dependence on its advice and predictions while subconsciously encouraging its readers’ conformity to the social behaviors most conducive to mainstream economic productivity.
This piece has two projections, facing back to back. In front of each projection, facing the viewer, are a video camera and a proximity sensor. As the viewer approaches the projection, the image transitions through several layers of effects, each incorporating text in some way. The image also responds to the viewer by “rewinding” the text whenever the viewer moves. The activity of a viewer in front of one screen sometimes triggers actions on the other screen, disrupting the viewer’s identification with the image and creating an atmosphere of confused contingency.
The text on the first screen is the text of the Adorno essay. The text on the second screen is from the daily horoscope RSS feed on Astrology.com. Each day that the installation is displayed, it downloads the current daily horoscope and appends it to the saved horoscope text. This allows the viewer to compare the essay’s excerpted mid-Twentieth century horoscopes to present day horoscopes, and consider how certain devices and techniques are still in use. This comparison highlights the relevance of Adorno’s critique while placing it in the context of contemporary online media.
- Year Created: 2011
- Submitted to ArtBase: Monday Jun 13th, 2011
- Original Url: http://basmajian.net/work/stars_down_to_earth/
- Chris Basmajian, primary creator
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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.