New York, US
Points of Distance
In 2014 I began building an archive of recordings using unsecured IP cameras focused on non-human animals. These cameras are found at sites of domesticity (the family home), industrial production (the farm), scientific discovery (the lab), and entertainment (the zoo). Each recording is done for 24 hours at 1 frame every 10 seconds. As of June 2021, the archive consists of over five million images, ordered chronologically in directories with metadata including the date of the recording and the IP address of the camera. From this material I created a number of works including The Inhabitants, a series of time-lapse videos. An interest in the place of non-human animals within the development of imaging techniques as both subject and material is one of my main concerns while developing this work as is the potential for an increase in apperception though these technologies. While the process of building this archive has not changed in terms of technique, my thinking on this project has developed and aspects that were once afterthoughts have been foregrounded over the past year. Of these aspects, proximity has revealed itself in new ways. In particular, I am interested in how the physical proximity between humans and non-humans has become inflected with the fear and danger of contagion and how this might reflect back upon the archive and its use.
Many of the farms that I record are engineered monocultures, that is, they are designed to produce a particular species of animal in a highly controlled environment. When disease begins to spread in these monocultures, control is often maintained through the culling or “depopulation” of living stock. Material and symbolic tensions arise when these diseases are zoonotic and can cross over into other species, especially when the other species is human. The harm of the disease is extended through the violence done by associating different groups of people with specific kinds of non-human animals, as seen in the rise of racist and nationalist violence and sentiment around COVID-19. Here notions of vermin and infestation move in parallel across human and non-human animals alike.
In my work for Desktop Archives, Points of Contact, I bring together multiple recordings from my archive into a single work. Here, different species, places, and times touch.