Technologies of History

    By Steve Anderson
    Design by Erik Loyer

    Open Project

    The user may then follow connections that are suggested by either the video segment or its accompanying text to explore further text arguments or a connection between two media clips.

    - Steve Anderson, Author's Statement

    Motion tracks generated from various JFK assassination-related video clips are overlaid in a media-historical palimpsest.
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    Designer's Statement
    One aspect of Technologies of History that fascinates me is the way in which Steve Anderson's commentary and clip selection lay bare the tension between actuality and its narration, whether that narration be in the form of spoken or written words, reenactments, photochemical processes, or digital recreations. It's easy to laugh at the technicians, scholars and bureaucrats in some of these clips who seem so earnestly to believe they can recover "what really happened" from pixels and grains of silver. And yet, it would be glib to dismiss those efforts entirely—something happened on November 22, 1963 that was photochemically recorded, and those recordings are significant in as much as they are analogues of the energies and trajectories of the photons bouncing around in Dealey Plaza on that day. In a similar way, Anderson reminds us that media retreads of the Kennedy assassination are themselves analogues, not of those photons, but of the memes and ideologies circulating in relation to the event.

    The main interface of Technologies of History is a kind of visual amplifier which turns up the gain on the unruly tensions inherent in the process of making (and re-making) history. Computer vision (in the form of Adobe AfterEffects' motion tracking feature) has been applied to each video clip to generate motion paths as the software attempts to keep track of details in the field of view. When applied in visual effects work, this technique is used to achieve an exact match between the motion of physical objects captured on video and graphic elements created in the computer. Here, we've deliberately used the function in a haphazard, sloppy and error-prone fashion to point up the impossibility of retrieving actuality from media representations. The resulting motion paths of disparate clips are superimposed to form a palimpsest—a time-dependent, frame-accurate, pixel-perfect palimpsest, depicting itself (and nothing else) with complete fidelity.

    — Erik Loyer, October 9th, 2008