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The Builders Association and dbox, SUPER VISION: THE FAMILY ROOM

SUPER VISION tells three stories

1. As he crosses successive borders, a solitary traveller gradually is forced to reveal all of his personal information, until his identity becomes transparent, with no part of his life left outside the boundaries of datasurveillance.

2. A young woman (Jen), addicted to the white noise of constant connection, maintains a long-distance relationship with her Grandmother. As she makes efforts to digitally archive her Grandmother's past, the Grandmother slips into senility.

3. A father covertly exploits his young son's personal data to meet the demands of the family's lifestyle. This ploy escalates beyond the father's control, until he is compelled to disappear. His wife and son are left with a starkly diminished data portrait, and his escape is shadowed by the long reach of the datasphere.

Marianne Weems

Nick Kaye: Peter Flaherty talked about the relationship between the set and various kinds of paintings. In particular, we discussed Edward Hopper and his setting of encounters in architectures that seem to be without blemishes - and although the family room does not specifically reference Hopper, this did seem to have a relationship to the simulated room. Is this quality something that you were specifically thinking about?

Marianne Weems: Oh very much so. James and I spent a lot of time talking about the background and class of these people - we called them Bobo’s - Bourgeois Bohemians – i..e upper-middle class people who have money but still like to think they are a little bit funky. It is about the right granite and slate and hardwoods and the right cappuccino maker and this absolutely pristine - I consider it somewhat sterile - but perfectly laid-out environment. And in fact that is how dbox makes money - by creating these virtual spaces (interiors and exteriors) as sales tools for architects. So to have the right subzero freezer and the latest flat screen tv in those animations is incredibly important. And when we started to put together those rooms we were pulling from all the generic icons that dbox has at their disposal to create different living room environments. It was quite funny, because they had started to sketch the rooms and I had to say - don’t you want Stewart Laing to be part of this? I mean it quickly became a large element in the set design.

Nick Kaye: Were there specific visual sources other than dbox’s work for the family scenes?

Marianne Weems: The 'grid' which appears as an abstract space whenever the father is on his computer is a key component of the family scenes. As well as the floating credit card icons and all of the text that surrounds the father’s computer activity. That came from a long set of discussions about representing data and what could be the signs - in this show - for data. It took a very long time for us to come up with that very simple image of the grid - a long time, let me tell you. Other visuals in the family scenes included the Arctic images which were actually manipulated and animated photos that James Gibbs took in the Arctic. We did a lot of research into early Arctic explorers and photography in that era – and tried to think about that – you know everything from Frankenstein to Shackleton.

Uploaded Image Onstage: David Pence.
Photo by dbox

James Gibbs

Nick Kaye: I think one of the things is that by introducing the grid you place something very abstract, but clear, against a family scene that is very quotidian, although hyper real: it is not an every day kitchen that they are in. But also, following the prologue, when the imagery of the family room is explicitly built through this startling animation – there is an immediate statement that what you are going to see will be very mobile, because you see the scene being constructed. I thought that was a very strong statement of how you were going to engage the audience, whereas if it had opened to a fixed scene or image that would be a very different gesture.

James Gibbs: I guess there are two things I want to say about that. One is – that really comes out of being able to create something that is convincing in the naturalistic or representational areas. Knowing that we can make something incredibly believable gives us the luxury to play against it. The other thing, which is not exactly related to that, but is about the same couple of moments, which is that the beginning, where the kitchen assembles itself, is indicating to people, somewhere, that this is the correct dishwasher, the coffee maker, the expensive refrigerator.

Stewart Laing

Stewart Laing: All those family scenes are about a sort of fantasy life. They are about an idealized way of living, so I think it is appropriate that they are that ‘perfect’. We looked at a lot of paintings - we looked at Renaissance religious paintings where you get two or three scenes happening at once, for instance. In terms of diptychs, where David Pence is doing something in one room, while something else is still going on in the other room.

see also: architecture | data environment | John Fletcher Sr. | lighting | performer presence | projection | the 'crush' scene | virtual architecture | virtual spaces |


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