Rough Natural Charm, 2020 - Serving the People
Rough Natural Charm, 2020 - Serving the People

Rough Natural Charm, 2020

Tyler Nicole Glenn
360-Degree Video Installation
School of Visual Arts



Rough Natural Charm is a multidisciplinary expanded media performance created as a result of the quarantine caused by the outbreak of COVID-19. Rather than interpreting this situation as a limitation, I took this opportunity as an Oblique Strategy. Rough Natural Charm would not exist under any other circumstances. I placed four sculptures in an unoccupied room in a student dormitory in New York City where I was living throughout the height of the pandemic. My intention was to recreate a moment in time where friends are spending quality time with each other along with reference to the trope of college students partying in a dorm room. They are crowded in a tight-knit circle, a visual nod to pagan ritual or ceremonial practice. My initial concept shifted when the blue sculpture fell on its side during fabrication, causing it to lose one of it’s protruding appendages. This accident allowed me to think about my times with friends where everything seems fine until something goes wrong. The moment of panic that we all experience when the mood suddenly shifts. Suddenly we’re not having fun anymore. This might have been what happened to the blue sculpture. The installation adopted this narrative approach where the viewer experiences the situation in media res. I propped a camera that is able to record 360-degree video on the green sculpture. This allows the audience to experience this moment in time from the point of view of the green sculpture. Since immersive videos use a fish-eye lense, the viewer experiences a warped perception of the room being recorded. This technological setback twists upon itself to represent dissociation. The sculptures are crafted out of a combination of extruded polystyrene, sanded grout, plaster, pigment, acrylic and human hair. One sculpture has a 360-degree camera attached to it's body, allowing the audience to view the installation from the point of view of a sculpture. Subsequently, each of these sculptures become participants in a performance rather than objects. Same goes with each audience member viewing the installation video. Each audience member will experience this work in the same way. Unlike most installations, this one is not designed to ever be viewed in person. Instead, they will view the 360-degree video to see the installation in the room. COVID-19 has impacted the world in an unparalleled way, creating a worldwide collective trauma. We are all being placed under restrictions as a result of the quarantine and social distancing measures. A conceptual goal of my 360-video was to physically represent our roles as civilians and consumers during this pandemic. Even though it seems like we could see the world very clearly, we only have our own experience and the mass media narrative to rely on. This becomes more complicated when we are unable to trust everything our news sources publish. Through the stream of the 360-degree camera, the viewer can view the installation at all angles but are unable to freely move around the room. Even though we are experiencing misinformation and injustice, many civilians feel powerless and unable to take action.
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