Thesis, Week 1

Thesis Statement/Question

We are all a series of layered experiences, tempered by learning: our memories.

There is a saying: You only truly die when someone says your name for the last time. This is a conceit: We are what people remember of us.

What happens when our memories dissipate?

The memories of alzheimer’s patients, which are to say their personal identities, deteriorate in real time. But those that surround them still remember them, so their legacy is -at the moment- in tact.

But what about when we’re all gone? Digitally we’ll live on, taking up less and less space in the digital landscape. But that legacy, no longer in our control, can evolve and shift in unpredictable ways.

I’m interested in exploring the link between memory -personal and projected- and identity. More specifically, I’m interested in exploring digital posterity -what digital representations of who we were might look like 100 years from now.

The question I would like to answer confronts the discrepancy between memory, identity, and the accuracy of a digital legacy that can shift long after we are gone. Ideally, this will culminate in a mixed-media experience of personal deteriorating identity through various inputs and manifestations.

Project Dream Review

Newcomer Lindsey Piscitell took the art world by storm with the opening of her first solo exhibition Infinite Loop at the David Zwirner Gallery this past Thursday. Piscitell, a virtual unknown prior to the debut of Loop, has made an indelible mark on a willing audience by thoughtfully examining the complex relationship between feminine identity, digital posterity, and the failure of freeform and architected memory.

Using a variety of forms, including video, sound and light sculpture, Piscitell posits that we must account for the identities we craft for ourselves while we still have agency, in preparation and even anticipation of the multiple identities that will represent us well into the future, thousands of years past when human forms might still exist, or when we might have control over them.

Mildly dystopian but quietly beautiful, Infinite Loop is an ambitious undertaking that is meditative while avoiding pendanticism, is wary without being cynical.  It is a must see for a generation that has more individual agency than ever before, but remains plagued by anxiety and uncertainty. While Infinite Loop might not hold all of the answers -indeed it doesn’t seem to be her intention to provide them- Piscitell offers something deeply comforting in our disjointed, dissociative realities: a moment of collective catharsis.

Research Plan

Research to date?

My research to date is basically cultivating a reading list, and I am casting a wide net:

A series of articles in the FT about alzheimer’s disease.

Research published in the New York Times about how psychotropics can aid those suffering from terminal illness in confronting death.

Reviewing the work of Denise Duhamel, particularly her Moibus strip poem Forgetfulness.

Reading about moibus strips.

Reading about looping mechanisms in general.

Examining the symptoms of alzheimer’s patients and how they loop.

Breaking patterns in behavior; reading on patterned behavior in general.

I’m also working on physical iterations in my 100 Days of Making class that might aid the form factors of my project.


What else is out there like it?

The work of Pipilotti Rist takes on some of the forms I’d like to emmenate.

Yayoi Kusama confronts the afterlife in very accessible but nonetheless beautiful ways.

Everyone has told me to look at GBC’s Hereafter Institute.

Es Devlin is an inspiration for anyone that wants to build.

Julian Rosefeldt’s Manifesto is inspiring from a performative standpoint, and also in terms of converging narrative.

How is yours different?

I’m not necessarily looking to commodify my output and I’m not sure that this will be a performative piece. It might also be interactive and it might not be. Frankly, the idea is not fully formed enough to cite its similarities and differences.

How does it improve what exists?

I’m looking to capture some of the zeitgeist and also make it a more personal, tailored experience for each viewer. (This is of course  true of all art to the extent that our interpretations are subject to our infinitely unique experiences as humans, but in this instance I’m speaking of a literal physical input/output mechanism that would change for each viewer, possibly).

What audience is it for?

Anyone who’s encountered an existential crisis; anyone who feels uncertain about the future, confronting death; anyone who is concerned by perceived memory/identity and objective identity/memory.

What is the world/context/ market that your project lives in?

It could be an installation but it could also live as a website with input/output mechanisms. For me it is very important to make something physical, so even if that were the case, it would never be a website alone.

In your initial research, have you found something you didn’t expect?

The stages are too preliminary to be able to answer that question. I am still searching for a rabbit hole.

Is it an interesting path to follow?

All of this is fascinating to the point of being completely overwhelming for me.

What do you need to know about the content/story?

I need to understand what I think, and pursue it. Right now, it’s all still very lumpy and uneligant.

What do you need from a tech standpoint?

Video and sound recordings, fabrications, light sculpture.

If it’s too much for the time.. Are there any discrete parts of it you could accomplish?

Maybe it’ll just be one of the above. I need to find the rabbit hole to get specific.

Hedwig & The Angry Inch: Who We Are & Who We Might Be


One Simple Sentence:

Hedwig & The Angry Inch is about the conflict of self-identification

One Complex Sentence:

Hedwig & The Angry Inch is about how we find independence and self-acceptance within ourselves despite the expectations of others and identities imposed on our bodies.

Three-Five Sentence concepts:

Theatre is out, debauchery is in. While previously a [flourishing doll-factory or famed theatre featuring the 10-year run of ‘Barbie: The Musical TBD’], the Belasco has since fallen into disrepair. In an abandoned state, it’s been co-opted by the local “weirdos”: a home for squatters, a dance hall for clubbers, a thunderdome for exiles. Within this space that’s at odds with itself, Hedwig and her partner Yitzhak also reconcile their own corporeal-vs-self identities and the expectations thrust upon them by others. The physical space and complimentary projections exacerbate this question of fragmented, unstable and changing identity through distortion, reflectivity, and juxtaposition. Ultimately, our heroes find and define themselves not to satisfy social norms, but their own best desires.

Who we once were or currently are, isn’t who we always have to be.

Visual Research

Pop Up Windows: Feed My Heart! Exploration

This week we focused on clarifying our concept. Our ultimate goal is to fabricate a crowd-fed heart that inflates, lights up and reacts to positive social media input.

Prototype sketches:

Concept sketch.

The major change to this sketch is that we changed the order of the windows. Rather than have the heart pumping the screens, we’ve made it so that the screens feed the heart. Our assumption is that we will make the windows aesthetically cohesive enough that onlookers will recognize that they are a pair and will read them directionally from left to right.

Window concept. Heart beat fabricated by Yuan Chen.

The Idea: HEART likes attention. Every time it gets attention on social media, HEART skips a beat. HEART blinks, pumps and beats according to how much social media love it gets.  Our ultimate goal is to fabricate a crowd-fed heart that inflates, lights up and reacts -essentially beats- to positive social media input. That will live in one window. We will display those interactions in feeds on screens in the adjacent window. (Our windows need to be side by side because they will need to visually ‘connect’ via the valves that we fabricate).

Heart beat fabricated by Yuan Chen.

Execution: A series of social media profiles will be created for HEART (instagram, twitter, facebook). The social feeds will be color coded and represented by a screen each. Passersby will be prompted to interact with HEART (send messages, tweet at it, et al). Those interactions will be displayed on their respective social media screens, and will feed HEART’s behavior


Remaining Questions, A Very Incomplete List:

-Will it be attention agnostic, as happy to receive negative attention as it is to receive positive?

-Exactly which social feeds will be displayed, and how will we prompt people to interact with HEART?

-Will HEART be called HEART, or will we go with something more allegorical?

-Materiality determinations -foam, wire, paper machée?

-Tech specs: literally all of them.

Hedwig! An Exploration

Hedwig & The Angry Inch is a story about redemption.

Hedwig & The Angry Inch is a story about the redemption one can experience by letting go and lifting others.

Hedwig & The Angry Inch is a story about Hedwig, formerly Hansel, who escapes the communism of East Berlin by marrying an American Soldier (and suffering a botched sex change operation in the process). As Hedwig settles into her dreary life in the American midwest, she hears that the Berlin Wall has fallen and despairs that so much of what she’s lost is for nothing. She also meets a young boy named Tommy who she starts writing songs with, and eventually elevates him to a level of superstardom for which she gets none of the credit. While touring in the USSR, Hedwig marries another drag queen named Yitzhak to provide the same escape the American soldier gave her. Because Hedwig resents that Yitzhak’s talent exceed hers their marriage exists under the condition that Yitzhak may never dress in drag again. Yitzhak plays second to Hedwig throughout the play. The story ends with a feverish break during which Hedwig becomes Tommy, and ultimately lets go of so much of her resentment, passing the torch to Yitzhak and reigniting her hope. In doing so, Hedwig finds her peace.

Fuchs Does Hedwig

Space: The atmosphere Hedwig is cold, concrete and damp. It has the same grungy atmosphere of a dingy club on the Bowery in the 70s. Nothing about it is glittery except for Hedwig’s makeup.

Time: Time jumps from decade to decade in flashback format but always within the context of Hedwig’s memory.

Climate: Is post-apocalyptic. Cinderblocks and bombed out buildings come to mind. It’s chilly and damp so it feels like you can never really warm up.

Mood: Sardonic. Lecherous. Surprisingly funny.

Secret Spaces: Moments of surprising tenderness fleck the otherwise cold, blasé attitudes of our actors. The oven mentioned throughout the play is a literal secret space, as is the slab of concrete Hansel suns himself on in his days as a youth.

Tone: Blunt.

Word: This world is familiar, but with a darker perspective. It’s real, with elements of the fantastic.

Social Arrangement: Sex is social currency here, as is escape. Sex is also power.

Language: The moments of bigness here are in the songs. Truth, the tenderness mentioned above, the revelation of secret spaces of importance and the moments of actual love as well as the most salacious moments of sex all live in song. Our characters are guarded in spoken language. It’s the songs that betray them.

Change: Ultimately, our star achieves peace. Our beginning snapshot is of a cagey, hilarious, embittered Hedwig, who has been dealt one too many blows to keep it to herself anymore. She keeps Yitzhak around as a punching bag for her anger. Ultimately, Hedwig learns, after a subtle acknowledgement by Tommy of all she’s done for him, that she’ll get nowhere without letting go of what’s thwarted her. She encourages Yitzhak to do so, and ultimately finds her peace.

Proposals: Distortion Gallery, Break My Heart!, Mood Reader

2017’s Theme: Reality, Augmented.

Ariana, Demos, Lindsey P., Yuan


Proposal 1: DIY Distortion Gallery

  • Collective coloring book. Everyone inputs color and location through touch in Window 1. An image is generated, though the outcome is unexpected & distorted.
  • Result is fed into Window 2, which carousels through the images that are generated.
  • People can then obtain the image generated.

Proposal 2: Overreaction Maching & Awkward Photobooth

  • Window 1 Prompt: How are you feeling today? User selects from a set of preselected moods.
  • Giant face in the window reacts however you’ve stipulated, but it’s an overreaction.
  • Window 2 Prompt: “Taking your photo in 5…4…3…SNAP”
  • Photo is taken but you never know when, so you’re always in the process of smiling but not actually fully posed.
  • There may be some form of data collection display

Proposal 3: Break my heart!

  • There is a Gigantic heart in Window 1.
  • There is a prompt for user input (texting, movement, whatever)in Window 2.
  • As the volume of user input increases, the heart moves until it bursts opens.

Aunt Dan & Lemon Cornell Box


But since we do have to do it, why not be truthful about it, and why not admit that yes, yes, there’s something inside us that likes to kill. Some part of us. Why wouldn’t that be so? -Lemon, Aunt Dan & Lemon by Wallace Shawn

Aunt Dan & Lemon is a play about admitting who we really are.

Process: Screens

Process: Box

Up Close & Personal: Detail

Aunt Dan & Lemon: The Fuchs Treatment

Aunt Dan & Lemon is a story about admitting who you really are.

Aunt Dan & Lemon is a story about the cruelty in the world that we’d rather not acknowledge.

Aunt Dan & Lemon is a story about the formative experiences of a young girl named Lemon, who is exposed to an uncensored reality from a young age. Many of her adult opinions stem from the relationship she had with her mother’s estranged friend Aunt Dan, who presses Lemon’s mom to admit that we are mostly indifferent to the horrors of the world, and would rather other people do our dirty work. This clarity and and assertion shapes Lemon’s world view to be one that is startlingly bleak, exceptionally candid, cynical,and self-aware.

An empty set from a production of Aunt Dan & Lemon.

Lemon’s Mars

It’s a dark space, most movement we see is in the shadows. It is movement, rather than lighting, that directs our gaze. When people (there are people) speak, their faces are illuminated, harshly, so we can see every detail.

Time adheres to emotion. The fury or satisfaction of a character can direct time to speed up or slow down. Time is non-linear. It is largely at the whim of the recollection our our guide.

It’s hot, and damp, and sticky. It seems the air never has enough oxygen for everyone to breathe easily. This climate has the effect of excusing people from rushing from place to place. They take their time, but when they speak, it’s as though they only had a minute left to live.

The mood is one of trepidation. It’s also disorienting. At times funny, it is also charged and startling, and still.

Our world is a series of glimpses through keyholes, secret spaces that exist only after they’ve been recounted to us with startling candor.

At its lightest moments, the tone of this planet is deliberate. Staccato fury is punctuated by intended, uncomfortable beats and pregnant pause. Punishing, unforgiving and relentless are words that come to mind.

This is a private, insular world. There are knowledge classes as much as their are wealth classes, and we get to witness their intermingling. Shame isn’t attached to the overt fetishization of money, valor isn’t attached to its possession, and an opinion is as dangerous as a rope.

Within this world, there are strange rituals of social arrangement. They are liberal with little to no sense of decorum. The most naive inhabitants of this world paradoxically seem to possess the most couth. The system is a bit inverted in that we can expect to hear the most truth by those that seem to lack a sense of propriety. This becomes a pattern. In many, this world’s inhabitants are like us, but getting to the point where we can admit that is, frankly, the whole point of the play.

In this world, no one has power. That’s why everyone in this world is so angry. Sex holds more power than money. Cleverness might provide a path for an option outside of monotony. One might have the power to foist the responsibility for our well-being into another’s hands. Others have the power to disregard it.

Language is copious, but true. For the most part, people in this world are honest. If they are not, they are weak -and not because they intend to lie, but because they aren’t capable of seeing truth. In many ways, language here unfolds with singsong and callback, and is punctuated by an occasional crack of the whip -a statement that could knock the wind out of you. That’s when were allowed pause to digest.

One could say that this is a world in which nothing changes. It’s our eyes that gradually adjust to the dim light of this planet’s atmosphere. The inhabitants of this world haven’t changed. They’re quite self-assured monsters. We start with questions and end with questions. We start with condemnation and end up ashamed. We’re all complicit, of course.


No Hashtag, No Nothing


Assignment: Create a double-take installation

Solution: Make a private space on the most public space of all, the NYC Subway.





The most talkative observers were on a stretch of the L train between the 1st Ave. & Grand St. stops. Most of the observers were looking to see who was responsible. The title of this post, “No Hashtag, No Nothing”, comes from the observations of one woman on the train who was absolutely baffled that there was no social media call to action. Many people had comments like this:

“Fashion week is getting weird.”

“Yeah that’s just how marketing is these days.”

“I wonder where the camera is.”

It’s a pretty prescient comment on the shift in expectation of an observer being goaded under the assumption that they are being observed.


Only one subway rider actually managed to touch our PRIVATE installation, but many came up to take photos and ‘grams. The most compelling conversation we had was with an MTA conductor who broke it down for us:


Alien Worlds & A Book Of The Dead: Designing For Live Performance Week 1

Response: Fuchs

Theater is opaque. We take it in with our senses and analyze it with our brains but the clarity we achieve is when theater successfully appeals to our emotions.

As actors, or performers, or playwrites, how do we ensure that such an emotional connection is achieved -that this appeal is successfully made? Elinor Fuchs attempts to offer a rubric for such successes in her short essay Visits to a Small Planet, by posing a set of questions that a work must at the very least explore sufficiently. She calls these questions “a template for the critical imagination”.

Creating theater is the creation of “another world passing by in time and space”, and it is best to approach it as you would a world completely alien. What are the conditions, the climate, the currency, the commerce? Answering these questions, making them coherent, ultimately builds the character and strengthens their credibility, until the world they are emulating becomes a given. Moreover, it becomes a true emotional reflection the audience can observe. It is only then that actor and audience both can “be someone aroused to meaning”.

The Empty Space by Peter Brook

Response: The Empty Space

It could be argued that there has never been more opportunity for good theater. With the spread of cheap social currency and platforms from which to exchange it, it takes very little technical (and I mean that word only in terms of literal documentation) or monetary force in order to produce and distribute a piece of art.

Yet the theater suffers. Now, more than ever, bad theater is produced, prices are rising, and the public is complicit. At least, thats what Peter Brook argues in his book The Empty Space.

Part of this is due to technical constraints: rising production costs and shorter incubation periods, coupled with a tendency for audiences to be disappointed by entertainment that is increasingly elite in both pricetag and accessibility makes for stuff that is not only unmagical but deadly. But it is also due to the way the form has morphed, shifted and come to be accepted.

The directors, costume designers, set runners et al. all have something to do with this. Wildly experimental as well as completely indoctrinated interpretations of the same piece can bring a production to its knees, and the untrained worker is just as bad as the trained one if their approach is unenlightened. Context in any space is important, and Brook knows that theater without context is also deadly.

Incompetence is the vice, the condition and the tragedy of the world’s theater on any level.

Similarly, actors that have spent time, but not quality time, rehearsing a piece will deliver a deadly performance. Uninspired, inhibited, and baseless, the audience can feel their lack of conviction or truth. And, as Brooks emphasizes,

As an audience, we bear as much the brunt of the responsibility as those in and of the production. We go to the theater and claim that it is enjoyable when it is not, under the guise of it being, as Brook posits, an intellectual experience. And it’s true, as he says, that “it would be a sad day if the people went to theater out of duty.”

So how does theater regain its luster?

The critic plays a central role, in that he keeps everyone honest. His burden is heavy and he is reluctant to bear it, but he feels the responsibility bear down upon him and moves forward for the love of the craft.

[Theater] is, or would be, if truly practised, perhaps the hardest medium of all: it is merciless.

The artist, too, knows his burden. Theater is “appalling[ly] difficult.” It is an unforgiving medium where every mistake is observed and magnified. To say Brook’s outlook is grim would certainly be an understatement, but in the final chapter of his book “The Immediate Theater”, he does observe some modern successes and , while not offering a wholistic solution, still offers some insight on how to best fill ‘The Empty Space’.

It starts with an understanding (as stated earlier) of context, and also in breaking down the relationship between actor, subject and audience. Grasping the speed with which a production evolves, and knowing when to modify and evolve in certain arenas (don’t block a play without people, for instance, or don’t design costumes until you know how characters will move) also helps.

What is necessary is…clarity without rigidity.

Actors, for their part, will emerge into their type by revealing their limitations. Rehearsals are as much about shedding inhibitions as they are perfecting dynamic. Directing is as much about understanding as elasticity. The production is as much about compartmentalization as marriage.

Further Thoughts

“When the status quo is rotten -and few critics anywhere would dispute this- the only possibility is to judge events in relation to a possible goal.” -Brook

There’s a bit of irony here. The imagined standard by which the critic must judge is also the imagined standard by which an actor (or director, et al) must hold himself to as well. It’s abstract and yet, we know it when we see it.

An Evolution Of Recordkeeping

Exercise Take a narrative structure and translate it into an object. What stories do objects tell? What is the story your object is telling?

Lascaux Cave Paintings, estimated to be up to 20,000 years old.


The majority of the paintings chronicled animals believed to be native to the region.


The Egyptian Dream Book: This papyrus has been dated to the early reign of Ramesses II (1279-1213 B.C.).


An early printed version of the King James Bible, dated 1613.


Captain’s Log, R.M.S. Oceanic, 1912


The training logbook of WWII fighter pilot Walter Dove.


Final flight recordings of Air France Flight 447 in June 2009

Flight transcript of “Miracle on Hudson” in January 2009

Daily Practice entries.

Daily habits and how they tell stories.

  1. The ability to chronicle speaks to leisure time and class.
  2. The plotting of these points reveals a lifestyle and level of predictability that is already concerning.
Is my legacy a bunch of color-coded iCal entries?