Recollection 01

Processing, Wikileaks 9/11 Pager Messages, Printers, Filing Cabinets, Police Lights, Arduino, DMX

Archived 9/11 text messages are printed live in an automated sculptural environment of found objects and light. These printed messages replay the 24hr period of the WTC disaster via a programmed and database driven performance enacted by office equipment.

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I didn’t go into work that morning at WFC, I had worked late the night before to wait out the rain and besides Sept 10th is Brian’s birthday so we celebrated in our neighborhood in Fort Greene. Two bottles of wine and free birthday cake because things finally felt great, our experience in the city had stabilized. The move had been tough, but work was good for both of us, we were happy to be together, happy to be back in NYC where we met, a new chapter.

The first call came from Brian’s mother “Thank God you are alive.” “What are you talking about?” No TV. Only a 1940’s AM Radio, the old ones that you imagine the family in front of, watching. Jamaican patois described the events as they happened.

Need to get to a TV, go to a friends house down the street and I can’t look at the TV, trying to reach Brian, they aren’t letting him go from work at his advertising job, he’s doing research for the Pokemon pitch. “Get out of there, get home.”

A photographer friend goes to the roof to shoot the Towers on fire, he comes downstairs and the first one falls. My friend gets stoned. What is the right response here? Brian makes it back, dusty, terrified, more hours in front of the TV, I want to be there with my friends, but I can’t look at the TV, I grew up without one and I never felt conditioned to have the right amount of distance from the images on screen, I believe them too much.

We go for a walk, 4 of us, through an orange haze that is thick and lung-filling, I need some fresh air, and we’re walking down Myrtle Avenue, still walking, maybe we’ll go to the Brooklyn Promenade to see it ourselves, but the air is too polluted, too toxic, it tastes metallic, like chalk, but the color is terrific, hazy vermillion. Out of nowhere a door opens and a guard ushers us into a giant corporate lobby, “Get in from out there,” he says. We all stand in front of a giant Nam June Paik video wall, overwhelmed. The images are dancing rhythms of light and texture, hyper-colored, synchronized in spots, seemly chaos in others. The only sound is the singing of the national anthem, broken, out-of-key voices, but a chorus, and my eyes orient on a row of screens in the center. Real-time five displays of the Washington politicians on the capitol steps singing as if their life depended on it.