SCRIPTED - Exhibition 2004

“Ever Dream of Surfing?” is an interactive digital artwork that appropriates a dream sequence from the summer blockbuster “Blue Crush” in which Anne Marie envisions the events of her near drowning while surfing pipeline. Colors flash as Anne Marie’s body is ‘rag-dolled’ underwater. In my work, segments of this dream re-occur and are fragmented into loops, emphasizing the trauma of being crushed by a wave . These loops lie dormant, activated only by the user’s interest in the appropriated links from the film’s co-sponsored website. Residing on a calming backdrop loop of Ann Marie’s sleeping eyes as they move back and forth during the REM stage of her dream, are the website icons : Crush Olympics, Crush Grooves, Crush Style, Crush Talk. These links have little to do with surfing, and ironically take the user not to actual web content – but to these disorientating film loops. The idyllic text: “Ever dream of surfing” acts as a title for the artwork that questions the popularization of the phrase ‘surfing the net’. The website’s links are popular culture derivative that could only satisfy the dreams of an internet surfer who dreams of surfing leaving the soul surfer cringing at the technological popularization of a sport based on the purest power of the ocean.

The web appropriated content intends to critique the nature of surf related websites and the increasing popularity of the sport of surfing. After the release of Blue Crush, there was an insurgence of girls wanting to learn the sport. This ‘blue crush phenomenon' created mixed feelings among the surfing population. But inversely to the website, the links that prompt an investigation into popular culture instead take the viewer to the fragments of film loop of the wipeout sequence. Body parts toggle back and forth in seisuristic and dizzying loops that attempt to disestablish the popularity and intrigue of surfing that the website glamourizes - Revealing instead, a grim reality of it.

The use of the loop as a cinematic device and correspondingly a dream sequence parallels the very functionality that earlier video artists have sought after in using looping video. As Critical Studies Professor Randy Lee Cutler from ECIAD writes about looping sampled images:

“Visual qualities of recycled images mirror the processes of memory and the unconscious... the sampled moving image is similar in structure to the dream, which transforms the raw materials of the waking world into psychic cinematic projections.” [1]
So if the sampled imagery is of a dream, what function does the loop play? In my work the sequence is severely fragmented and tampered by digital resizing, tempo and color. Cutler further suggest that, “the isolation and recombination of clips heightens certain sense rations altering how the brain reads and interprets messages.” [2] Each clip is removed from the entirety of its context. The viewer sees only a body suspended in liquid - tormented by repeating motion. It effectively becomes a nightmare to the audience, who not only have been taunted with fulfilling his/her dream of surfing, but instead are subject to viewing a masochistic mutilation of the sport. Discomfort heightens as the viewer imagines the possibility that they may face this situation. But they also remain sensitive to the suffering of the girl who normally would only be held underwater for a few minutes at most – is instead held underwater in stilled, distorted, repeated loops, making a single event – an endless and inescapable spectacle.
[1] Cutler, Randy Lee. “Pilfering the Datapool and other recombinant strategies”
[2] Ibid.