Ben Houge, Self-Portrait, Dusk, at the Point of Departure

Self-Portrait, Dusk, at the Point of Departure (live footage) from Ben Houge on Vimeo.

Self-Portrait, Dusk, at the Point of Departure 起航黄昏的自画像 is a room-sized audiovisual installation that encompasses 18 channels of video and 4 channels of audio, deployed in real-time from 9 networked computers. The video is displayed in a large, darkened room, on screens mounted in an elevated grid 6 wide and 3 high, positioned such that visitors first encounter the images at a distance. To a greater extent than any of my earlier pieces, this piece uses sound and video as elements in a larger composition, creating an immersive, all-enveloping sense of space.

This piece takes a poignant moment in time and makes it last forever, using algorithmic techniques borrowed from videogame design and granular synthesis. Although based on a finite source clip (10 minutes long), it never repeats itself, and can never be said to be beginning or ending, starting or stopping. Rather, the piece establishes a continuous, meditative portal to another place and time. To read more about this installation, including its idiosyncratic genesis, please visit my blog. In addition to the exhibition footage above, you can also view an early conceptual rendering of the piece.

Self-Portrait was developed (in Max/MSP/Jitter) off and on throughout 2010, first in St. Paul, MN, USA, then at Dulles airport in Washington, D.C., in Nairobi, Kenya, and finally brought to fruition at the True Color Museum in Suzhou, China, where it was exhibited as the focal point of my solo exhibition "The Point of Departure," which ran from November 6-December 5, 2010, the culmination of my 6 month artist residency at the museum.

The scaffold supporting the video screens was meticulously constructed by Laowai 老外 of True Color Museum. Many thanks to the museum director, Chen Hanxing 陈翰星, and to all the staff at the museum for their support in this installation and during my residency.

Self-Portrait, Dusk, at the Point of Departure is dedicated to Nate, Jodi, Lydia, and Elsa Houge, with love and gratitude.