Ben Houge, Shanghai Traces

Shanghai Traces (High Resolution) from Ben Houge on Vimeo.

Shanghai Traces 上海轨迹 is a one channel, real-time, generative video, created in Jitter during the winter of 2010, mostly at my brother’s place in Minnesota. The video exists in low resolution (740 x 555) and high resolution (1600 x 900) versions, and it can be adapted for various contexts. The video may be shown on a screen or projected, in varying dimensions, and multiple instances of the video may be shown together

It was first exhibited as part of the “Make Over” show at OV Gallery, January 23-March 13, 2010. This exhibition addressed the massive beautification campaign that Shanghai has undergone in preparation for hosting the World Expo in 2010. The falling objects are wares of Shanghai street vendors, who were forced out of the city center during the Expo. The medium of generative video is particularly well-suited to evoking the unpredictable patterns of life in a busy city that is continuously reinventing itself. Read more about the ideas behind the piece on my blog.

The piece is appropriate for a variety of settings and formats. The work’s generative, real-time nature is particularly well-suited to being installed to run continuously in a public place (museum, bar, gallery, park), where viewers are free to come and go and watch for as long as they want. It may be incorporated into a live performance (VJ, collaborative, or otherwise), and a rendered excerpt may be screened as a short video.

The soundtrack is optional; the piece was originally exhibited as a silent video work, which can work well in a noisy space, or where other sound-producing works are being exhibited.

To see some stills from the video, check out this Flickr set. Limited edition, high resolution prints (88.9 cm x 66.7 cm) on archival paper are available for purchase from OV Gallery. Editions of the video are also available.

Shanghai Traces has been chosen for the shortlist of YouTube Play, the Guggenheim's Biennial of Creative Video, in 2010, and was included in the Collision 16 show at Axiom Center for New and Experimental Media in Boston in early 2011. It will be installed for a year at Seattle's e4c digital storefront gallery from May 2011, and it is also permanently installed at The Glamour Bar, located on Shanghai's historic riverfront.