Continued from Part 2: Monkeys Watching Monkeys
Monkeys often evokes a strong emotional response among people. Monkeys as symbols are also charged with social and political meaning. We often anthropomorphize monkeys and project our own human anxieties onto them. Monkeys drive us bananas. They are Curious George one minute and the next minute they are giving you Ebola or AIDS or ripping off your face. Horror lies just under the surface of cute.
I worked this week with Kristin Loeb on Monkeys Watching Monkeys, a streaming web video installation that deals with the mediated gaze, reflections and narcissism as they relate to how people look at monkeys, and how we think monkeys look at people and how monkeys look at each other.
We started with the Conference.as code that Shawn gave us in class, but we came across some mysterious problems. For some reason the compiled SWFs only worked part of the time on Kristin’s computer and never actually worked on mine. (Does Snow Leopard hate Monkeys or what?) So we moved on to some off-the-shelf solutions, trying first iChat, then Skype, and finally USTREAM.tv to create a series of simian scenarios. The goal was to position webcams and screens in a way to create an “infinity effect” of primate viewing pleasure.
Finally, we created the be beginnings of the Monkey Show, a webpage featuring two USTREAM channels and a Twitter widget that displays the latest tweets with the work “monkey” in them. We hope to trick this page out with more live monkey media in the near future.
Bandwidth is an issue
There are mysterious bugs in the system
Even off-the-shelf solutions have their limitations
This installation would probably work better and be more aesthetically pleasing with just cameras and monitors (with the laptops hidden)
The installation would probably have worked better with analog video
Lighting and camera placement are tricky
If only our monkey talent were this well trained: