Contest Submission

Suspiro

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Type of Work: Installation

Description

Suspiro/ First Kiss is an immersive sensory installation that moves with the wind. 1000s of VHS tapes are suspended demo a 4 meters height, creating a black cube floating in the air. When the wind blows, this solid block disperses and the reflectivity of the VHS tapes make them shimmer in the sunlight. Being lightweight, you can walk through the installation and push the tapes gently away, creating a sensation as if you are swimming in water. The tapes are hanging a bit above the ground so while passers-by might notice people in the installation, they cannot see the faces, making it an ideal spot for the coveted first kiss. The sound of the tapes in the wind is similar to tree leaves rustling, making a logical connection from the artwork to the natural environment. Building this installation is quite labour-intensive: finding, cutting and hanging VHS tapes takes a lot of time. This is where the residents’ role comes in: it is a fairly easy process so you don’t need special skills. The installation is very simple to build and should there be any damage, it can be easily fixed.

Concept videos
I have made two concept videos: one of a prototype in real life, showing wind and weather conditions. another is a 3d model to scale. In hte 3d model, I only simulated two sides because animating 16000 pieces of tapes was impossible. 
video 1 (3d model): https://vimeo.com/619138530
video 2 (real-life): https://vimeo.com/619113131
In the attached photos, the installation looks like a black block but in reality, you will see the small openings between the tapes. 

Community involvement
The VHS tapes have to be cut and tied to the wires. With approximately 16000 pieces of tape, this will take a lot of time if I were to do it all by myself. Hence the community can help here. I will design a labour process to facilitate the building of the installation and maintenance (see below in the maintenance section) of the installation. 
Another part of community involvement will be the sourcing of VHS tapes: I will need a very large quantity of them and I hope that I can find them within the community. I hope a town-wide campaign will help to make this possible. 

Materials needed
The installation uses fairly basic materials: 4 flagpoles, anchored with cement in the ground, a washing line for the wires, fishlines for the wires to hang the VHS tapes on, lots of VHS tapes, green netting to go on top. The total materials cost is less than €1000.

Some parts are open for change: for example, the main wires at the sides could be replaced by wooden sticks if they would not bend due to their length. 

Maintenance
I have had a prototype outdoors now for approximately 6 months in different weather circumstances. The tapes remain in good condition. When it rains, the tapes tend to stick together and it is not that beautiful, but as soon as the rain stops, the wind will blow the tapes dry. Although this is not a permanent installation, I am confident that it can be alive for at least one year. 

I cannot rule out that there will be a negative person will vandalize the installation. As simple as it is to build (although labour-intensive), as simple is it to damage it. For that, I want to reserve a sum for the community to maintain the installation and replace parts should it be necessary.   

Environmental impact
– This installation requires only 4 concrete points to anchor the flagpoles. When the installation is removed, these concrete anchors can be removed easily without severely impacting the environment. 
– The VHS tapes are secured to the wires and should not be able to get loose so cannot get into the forest.

Costing
There are three main costs.

  1. Materials: approximately €840
  2. personnel cost: €9000
  3. contingency (20%): €1968

If I am working with volunteers, I think they should have at least catering been taken care of. Hence a part of the budget will go to offering helpers food and drinks. 

More details
I have made a full proposal where I go into detail about every aspect. For this online part, I have tried to make it shorter. 

Estimated time: 1 week build - semipermanent installation
Estimated cost: 11808

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5 Responses

  1. I love your idea and finding unused VHS tapes should be fairly easy. Count me in to contribute some material !
    My only complaint is about the blunt square shape of the installation where every part is immediately visible. Would you consider turning it into a portal of some kind ? Not saying it needs to be a rose garden, but some more intriguing shapes would add to the romanticism.
    On another note : Have you considered taking steps to prevent a big mess of entangled tapes from happening by wind, rain and static electricity ? Perhaps attaching a weight to the bottom ends … ?

    1. Hi Paul, thank you for your comment. Actually, the installation is a portal: you walk between the VHS tapes and people outside the ‘cube’ only see your feet. There will be a sign describing the work. Maybe I can ad some kind of path.
      I have made a concept video of a prototype where you can see a bithow it is moving around ‘inside’ the installation. The sound is just a phone microphone sound, in reality, it does not sound that loud. Best to compare with wind blowing through trees. https://vimeo.com/619113131
      On tangling: the tapes actually don’t get tangled as long as they are not on the floor. When they interact, a simple waving of hands makes all of them loose again. That is also part of the installation: touching those tapes is a very nice tactile sensation. It feels like you are swimming on land or in the air. The issue of tangling happens on top when a tapes flies out and then lands on top. Therfore, the green netting helps prevent that.
      Rain: when it rains, the tapes get wet and stick together. That does not look very beautiful, imagine a wet dog. However, as soon as it stops raining, a light breeze dries the tapes and everything becomes loose again. In the prototype, the tapes touched the floor and stayed wet, you can see that in the Vimeo video.
      Static electricity: I have had no shocks while experimenting with the prototype so I don’t think there is a risk there.

  2. I like the concept. Two things I miss though
    1st – the connection of the installation to this SPECIFIC location
    2nd – the involvement of the population of Differdange as “artists” and not jus as “helpers”

    If e.g. the tapes would be collected Super 8 films from people that live in differdange (instead of video tapes showing Hollywood movies) – this would celebrate them as “artists” and include their personal history with Differdange into the sculpture.

    1. Thank you for your comments. Those are actually challenging!
      1. The specific location: Indeed, the building next to it is not included in my concept*. But the forest behind is: if you listen to the tapes rustling in the wind, it sounds like trees. Check out the second video for an idea. Also the somewhat remoteness of the place attracted me. You go there for a ‘secret’ thing. If I were to propose this work anywhere else, it would always be on a relatively open site in the nature like a field, a hill-top, … .
      * You can conceptually connect the installation to the building: it is abandoned, its memories flaying away in the wind. Decaying but still standing, reminiscing about times gone by. The installation is similar: it looks solid from afar, but breaks down in small pieces as you approach it.
      2. That is true. I used VHS tapes because they shimmer in sunlight, an effect I like. VHS tapes are also ubiquitous whereas fewer people would have super 8 tapes laying around. I would like to do it one day with super 8 tapes but I think collecting those would take a much longer time (but conversely the labour process would take less time because of the holes at the sides where we could feed the wires through rather than tie all the tapes). Another consideration is the weight: these films weigh more than VHS and also have a different touch so it would alter the sensory experience. Just to be sure: you mean super 8 films, not DV/miniDV tapes right? I tried with cassette tapes (similar width to MIniDV) but those are too thin to make it feasible to build this installation. You would need lots more to get the same feeling as you have with the VHS tapes.
      On the memory aspect: indeed, that is something I would very much like to include. I hope that at least some of the VHS tapes will have some personal videos so we can mix them between the Hollywood tapes.

  3. Thank you for your further explanations:

    Yes I thought about real Super8 films they would have the advantage that one could actually SEE something on them. But at the same time you are right
    – noone has those things anymore
    – if people have them they are very valuable to them and they do not give them away
    – even if they would give them for the project the sun would destroy the films in not time
    so this is not the best idea either..

    Conceptually and poetically PERSONAL video tapes would be better than Hollywood Tapes but for the same reason people will NEVER give away their personal VHS recordings and this is totally understandable. – To the viewer of your sculpture it does not matter as he/she cannot see anything on the videotapes anyhow – but I still believe this is an important aspect. – Maybe the City of Differdange has a full archive of City Documentary Films on Differdange stored somewhere – THAT would be the right thing to use :-))

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