LINDA DUVALL Visual and Media Artist

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Techno-Trance 1996-1998

6 T.V. monitors on folding tables, draped with black cloth
6 VHS tapes looped to two hours
Installation size - variable

This project addresses the seductive nature of contemporary technology as evidenced by the intense relationship that many today have developed with video games. This is not an abstract discussion of the nature of cyberspace. Rather Techno-Trance gives a literal face to the interaction between humans and machines.
Each of the monitors in this installation contains the close-up face of a youth as he/she plays a video game. To film each sequence, a small video camera has been placed in front of the screen of the original television. As an audience to each of these videos, one is placed in the position of the original technology, and experiences the kind of gaze that is directed at this machine.
Each video consists of a continuous loop of one person playing a video game. In each, the head is tightly framed so that extraneous details are eliminated. During the filming of each sequence, the video camera is left stationary in front of the television for up to one hour so that the extended nature of the link between each player and his/her game is apparent.
During this hour, what becomes evident is the kind of communication that occurs. Rather than more traditional forms of communication, these videos demonstrate that meditative stares and occasional tensing of parts of the face predominate. Each video contains the staccato that has been programmed into each game to accompany the movement on the screen. The active nature of these sounds contrasts with the unwavering position of the human figure shown in the video.
Techno-Trance considers the extent to which this relationship with the machine has replaced other activities previously valued in communities. Rather than negate this experience, one must consider what this relationship offers to all of these participants. The project also raises questions about the connection between this kind of encounter and other situations of fervor, such as an intense religious experience. The nature of the installation makes reference to the original structure of monks' chambers of contemplation. The intensity of the gaze replicates the facial expression evidenced during prayer or meditation. The audio accompaniment with its repetitious nature contains
references to Gregorian chants. Subdued lighting and an absence of other visual stimuli extend this association.