Postcard from Greece

Postcard from Greece

Would you like to receive a personal, private video postcard sent directly to your email address as part of my commission for the London & Essex Knot of Colm Cille’s Spiral?

Between the 8th August- 12th September, send me a message when you want to receive a video; I will respond as quickly as possible from wherever I am, whatever it is I’m doing.

In exchange, I would like you to ‘complete’ the video by adding the meta-data: a title, 3 or more tags (i.e. keywords that could describe the video I send- you can be as creative or deadpan as you like…), and optionally a caption.

These will be used as meta-data for a corresponding blank/ contentless video on Instagram, and also in the final piece,  including an exhibition in Derry in December.
Your response can be credited or anonymous, whatever you prefer.


 

Background

As part of the London & Essex knot of the Colm Cille Spiral commission, I will be sending a series of personal videos to friends, family and network connections (i.e Twitter followers, Facebook friends, past collaborators)  over the course of a journey across Europe to Paris, Venice and Greece between August 8th and September 12th.

Using Instagram, videos will take the form of postcards: diaritistc/ subjective reflections on the current location and my experience of it, with a personalised element, so that, like a postcard each message is specifically addressed to that individual. Amplifying the intrusion of social media into our daily lives- and holidays- I will respond to people’s requests from wherever I am, whatever I happen to be doing; in this way, the recipients have an element of control over the situation I make the video in, heightening the illusion of immediacy and instantaneous connection that online communication fosters.

Of course, whoever receives a video must take it on trust both that I made their video as soon as I received their message, and that they have been sent a unique video; the only way, perhaps to know for certain would be to contact other recipients, that is, through word-of-mouth or direct conversation with others within my network.

While using the Instagram platform both for its formal constraints- videos are limited to 15 seconds and must be filmed i.e. cannot use pre-recorded/ downloaded content- and for its associations with solipsistic yet publicly shared self-documentation, the videos I make will be sent privately, via email to the recipients, and will not be shared visibly, thus defeating the objective of social media sharing platforms.

 Text- video exchange

In exchange for the video, and reflecting the economic principle of crowd-sourcing and distribution of micro tasks across a networked, but not necessarily personally connected workforce, individual recipients will be asked to ‘complete’ the video by adding the meta-data: a title, 3 tags or more and optionally a caption, which will be used to create the final piece, in a variety of media and versions. It will be left to the individual to decide whether to  respond either anonymously or be credited.

Blank Instagram video

Reflecting my interest in making a piece of work that develops organically and records the process of it’s own making, the texts that each person sends will initially be put to use as the meta-data for a corresponding black, or contentless, video that I will upload back on to Instagram.

Rendering the original ‘invisible’ in this way, the black, contentless videos are nevertheless ‘visible’ to the search bots that are vital to the operation of the internet: the metadata of tags and titles is what allows image and other content to be located, without which it is lost, invisible.

 Performance and document

An Instagram gallery with black/ contentless videos

Resulting therefore in a regularly updated Instagram feed of blank videos, which will be shared across the usual platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr) the project will foreground the collapse of performance and documentation that underlies the ‘fully recorded present’ which social media ushers in: life as a performance to be documented for public consumption.
Each video is both a record, or document of the particular place and moment I happen to be when I receive a message asking for one, and a performative gesture- am unplanned, unstaged video made on the spot.

The tags will also be used in the final exhibition in Derry, either quoted directly or as source material for a new piece of text based on them. The original videos I send out will be shown at a one-off event in London but will not be shared online.

If you would like receive a video, please email me at ericascourti@gmail.com from the address you want the video posted to.

More about the London & Essex ‘knot’:

The London & Essex ‘knot’ of the spiral draws on the history of St. Cedd, who with his brother St. Chad, left Lindisfarne (Holy Island – site of the preceding Colm Cille’s Spiral knot) to establish new sites of culture and scholarship at a remove from the limitations of political territories. Cedd founded the Chapel of St. Peter-on-the-Wall at Bradwell-on-Sea in 654AD. For the Essex and London knot, a cross-disciplinary research seminar will consider contemporary conditions for the distribution of knowledge and culture, and speculate on parallel infrastructures that could support modern-day spirals of learning.

Working with Marc Garrett of digital-arts organisation Furtherfield, a group of post-graduate researchers from King’s College London consider what could be termed the ‘Netopticon’ (contemporary systems of networked surveillance, named in reference to Jeremy Bentham’s high-surveillance prison structure, the Panopticon). The group then explores how it might be possible to share knowledge outside of the Netopticon in a post-internet, post-mobile technology world. In July, they will showcase their findings at a live public event at the historic Bradwell-on-Sea church.