Tag Archives: historical

Transitory – 2012 Video Project (from the Vault!)

As my work progresses into an exciting, experimental phase, I’ll be revisiting video and projection as potential output for The Cascade project.

Much of the discussion this residency focused on potentialities for display and viewer consumption/interaction, and more than one critique centered on re-animating altered stills in video form. Since The Cascade has become the cornerstone of my thesis, I’ll be taking great delight in experimenting with the contingent, related possibilities its final form may take. In fact, I’m obsessing over it! Digital video, slides and projection are only the beginning. I’ll also be playing with output on paper, transparencies and other processes.

I’ve been sourcing texts and scouring bibliographies, while refreshing my connection to video, audio work, Processing and applets. 

While researching, I decided to dig up a video project I did in early 2012, since it also uses appropriation, ambiguous time and defiance of narrative.  Viewing this work with a fresh eye invigorated my interest in applying a cinematic approach to The Cascade, as suggested by Oliver Wasow and Judith Barry. You will undoubtedly notice this project focuses more on the process of memory than any of my other pieces, including The Cascade (which has loose ties to recollection, but is focused more on transient cultural geography).

In fact, I typically shy away from work that centers on memory, especially childhood memory, but it was useful to think in this vein for the Transitory video project as a specific piece. 

I have included the original project statement here as reference, even though I’d love to scrap and re-write the whole thing. 😉


Final Version – “Transitory” (May, 2012)
Ren Adams
Transitory – Project Statement
Transitory (May, 2012) 

My primary body of work engages the nature of emergence (matter from non-matter), network inter-connectivity and the relationship between contemporary Systems Theory and Eastern philosophy. Video art, like sound, is a vibrant, moving medium. Through its active sub-structure, I investigate the transitory nature of memory and its connection to place, time, and data retrieval. Memory itself is unstable, at best unreliable, and full of pops, ticks, and repetitive passages, not unlike automated methods of data storage and revival. We may even get stuck on a single “still” that loops endlessly.

By appropriating a video tied to a specific point in my history, Transitory deconstructs “proper” memory, highlighting the connectivity between image and recognition, emphasizing gaps that emerge from missing data. The specific, personal memory becomes a broader comment about recalling space as a moment in time, literal location, and the transition of that space from memory, to engaged experience.

The original video footage was recorded by Marcus Tee on 3-28-1987, using a VHS-based video camera. Tee stood in the parking lot of the Woolworth’s shopping plaza in Palmdale, California, at the corner of Avenue Q-6 and Sierra Highway and provided a linear, spinning shot of the environment. Tee says he shot the video to freeze this childhood location for posterity, once he realized he would be unable to return to the location in person again (due to his health). As a child in Palmdale, the Woolworth’s shopping center was one of many hubs, but my family visited it frequently. I have very personal memories associated with the shops here—too many to recount in a project statement (and  unnecessary to the subsequent transformation of the video). The plaza in the shot looks exactly as it does in my memory (I was 14 at the time Tee shot the video) and I recall most crisply the Woolworth’s storefront, Shamrock Liquors, Palmdale Home Video, and the distant view of my brother’s apartment building.When I came across the video on YouTube, I was amazed someone had taken the time to record a mundane urban environment—and that someone shared a specific connection to a point and location in time, with tangible evidence. The connection between myself and the space depicted is fascinating. There is a distance between myself and the videographer, between my current location and the location I occupied then, between times (1987 to present) and a separation of temporality (the entire shopping center no longer exists—it is transitively held in memory and video tape forever).

It allowed me to open dialogue with the nature of memory itself. What do we remember about specific places, things, colors, locations, times? What details stand out? How do we store and re-access this data?

Watching the video revealed specific, familiar details I had “airbrushed” in memory. The nuances and textures of buildings, the play of light, exact signage—many of these precision details were no longer held in my “sentimental” memory. Watching the video reactivated actual associations and the nature of their rhythm, incongruity, and overlapping feedback. I became curious about the ways we recall, explore, and connect moments.

Transitory references a lost moment in linear time and physicality, analyzing the accuracy of remembered data, using a space that no longer exists to speak about the literal process of image-memory recollection.


I took the base video and dismantled it, fracturing the original linear format. By slicing, blending, overlapping, moving, and even erasing moments in time, the linear flow of the camera is unnervingly interrupted. The eye tries to follow forward movement, but finds that repeated image motifs (a painted 7Up sign, a blue car) and camera-movement become an impenetrable pattern.

Things are out of order, moments blink in and out. The eye and mind can “remember” a specific sign or color, but the original layout and movement becomes unreliable, like recollection itself. The tumble of specific points becomes self-referential. As images flicker, the viewer begins to remember repeated shapes. As they filter back into focus, they become part of the viewer’s own memory, a familiar point of reference in the chaotic flow.

The manipulation is done not to specifically replicate holes in my own memory, or to force the viewer to “see what I see,” but to visually describe the way specific memory can be used to reference the act of memory storage and connectivity. When one thinks of a shopping center they visited as a child, do they see a liner, fluid recollection? Or do various moments, colors, images, and points in time tumble in, overlapping, popping, and ticking, sometimes overlaying completely?

Some of the data is sensory, some idealized and imprinted without clarity. The series of images and thoughts we retain are like a network of image and impression, connected to us and related abstractly to the actual event or place.

Video Credits:

Video “Twenty Years Ago Today 03-28-87), recorded by Marcus Tee. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ccvfwbe8-E

(YouTube video date 3/24/2007).

Music/sound credits:

Miller, Andrew. Rainy front porch, 2006. Freesound.org (Sampling+ License).


Monkay. Tibetan singing bowl, 2008. Freesound.org (Creative Commons License). http://freesound.org/people/Monkay/sounds/48325/

NemoDaedalus. 8mm Projector, 2008. Freesound.org (Attribution License).


Nesmith, Michael and Craig Vincent Smith. “Salesman,” 1966-1967. Originally under Colgems label, now under Rhino.

Zoom H4. Footsteps in snow, 2010. Freesound.org (Creative Commons License).


All other sounds recorded by Ren Adams in April, May, 2012. All editing, video work, video track sound mixing and manipulation by Ren Adams.