Adriene Jenik lecturing at Calit2
Images and text source: gallery@calit2
Note: The following is an interview published for the exhibition SPECFLIC 2.6 and Particles of Interest: Installations by Adriene Jenik and *particle group* on view from August 6 to October 3, 2008 at gallery@calit2. In this Interview Jenik shares the creative process behind her ongoing multi-faceted installation SPECFLIC, which points to a future where books have become rare objects.
Adriene Jenik combines literature, cinema and performance to create works under the umbrella of Distributed Social Cinema. For Jenik, this term means that the language of cinema has been moving outside of the conventional movie screens on to different media devices, which today include, the portable computer, GPS locators, as well as cellphones. Earlier in her career, Jenik worked with video and performance, and eventually she produced CD-Roms, such as “Mauve Desert: A CD-ROM Translation” (1992-1997). Jenik’s practice took a particular shift towards network culture when the Internet became a space in which she could bring together her interests in film, literature, and performance. “Desktop Theater: Internet Street Theater” (1997-2002) was a virtual performance which took place in an online space. It was based on Samuel Becket’s play Waiting for Godot. In line with these works, SPECFLIC 2.6 is the result of Jenik’s interest in the relation of networked culture to film, literature and performance. The installation, then, is also another shift in Jenik’s interest in the expanded field of storytelling. In the following interview, Jenik shares the influences and aesthetical concerns that inform SPECFLIC 2.6
[Eduardo Navas]: You describe your ongoing SPECFLIC project, currently in version 2.6, as “Distributed Social Cinema.” Given that your installation takes on so many aspects of contemporary media, could you elaborate on how you arrived at the parameters at play around this concept?
[Adriene Jenik]: SPECFLIC was initially inspired by the recognition that cinema was moving beyond a single fixed image at an expected scale to one of multiple co-existent screens with extreme shifts in scale. I was seeing video on miniature screens, as well as gigantic mega-screens, and seeing these screens move about in space and wondering what types of stories could take advantage of these formal and technological shifts. I’ve long been involved in thinking through layered story structures and at the beginning of SPECFLIC, I could “see” a diagram of the project imprinted on the inside of my eyelids. That original retinal image burn has since been honed and shaped in relation to the needs of the story and the responses of the audience and performers.
The SPECFLIC 2.6 installation takes excerpts from material that was created for SPECFLIC 2.0, and follows on the heels of SPECFLIC 2.5, which was commissioned by Betti-Sue Hertz and presented at the San Diego Museum of Art in Spring of 2008. For SPECFLIC 2.5, I stripped away all of the live, interactive aspects of the piece, and instead, emphasized aspects of the story that might have been more in the background of the live event. This type of “versioning” is something that is in evidence in software creation, but has also become a method for developing an art practice that can expand and embrace new research and technologies. Distributed Social Cinema is a form that takes into account the importance (for me) of the public audience for a film. As cinema-going practice becomes “home entertainment,” I’m interested in what is at stake in cinema as a public meeting space. At the same time, I’m playing with the intimacy of the very small screen, the ways in which having part of a story delivered into someone’s pocket adds a layer of meaning in its form of delivery. The SPECFLIC 2.5 installation was an attempt to consolidate some of these aspects of distributed attention and “voice.”
Granted the opportunity for networked interaction within the gallery@calit2, for SPECFLIC 2.6 I have rethought the installation to develop in concert with audience contributions. So the project is very much evolving in response to what I learn from each previous iteration as well as the opportunities afforded by the space, encounter with the audience, and technological framework.