Selective Disturbance is a site-specific video piece with live music and dance performance inspired by the modularity of the brain’s vision system and the similar separation of color and movement in digital video.

In digital broadcast television, color data and movement data are sent separately to save bandwidth. Bizarre and by now familiar glitches occur when color data is lost and the movement of one shot is combined with the color of the previous shot.

Visual cognition is similarly specialized; not only does the brain have specific regions devoted to color and movement, but shape, facial recognition, facial expressions, distance... all have specific areas of the brain devoted to them. We know this because if a “selective disturbance", such as localized brain damage, occurs, then a person can lose the ability to understand movement, or facial expressions, or some other very specific task.

It would seem that our visual cognitive system is thoroughly fractured and segmented, yet our conscious experience seems fluid and whole. Digital broadcast tries (and very often fails) to maintain an intelligible image of combined color and motion from separate streams of data. Similarly, the city is filled with people, groups, and institutions working independently, sometimes together and sometimes at odds, yet the city seems to have a distinct identity. We talk about “Atlanta” as if it exists in a consistent, discrete, and identifiable form.

Selective Disturbance splits images of the city and the performers into movement and color, investigates them as independent components, and recombines them into a new video work.

Selective Disturbance was presented at Convergent Frequencies. Convergent Frequencies was a 3-night event that also featured the work of artistsMatt Hafner and Nat Slaughter, live improvised music by cellist Matt Jarrard and violinist Karyn Lu, processed live by Matt Jarrard and myself, and dancers Helen Hale and Rose Caudle. Convergent Frequencies was presented by ArtBox, a collaboration between the i45 gallery collective and Possible Futures. Convergent Frequencies was also shown at Flux Night 2010, with Karyn Lu and Lee Goldenberg on bass.

Matt Jarrard playing cello, Karyn Lu playing violin, and Matt Gilbert running two laptops on top of a storage container with a mural by Matt Hafner
Wide shot of the event, showing 2 large projections, 3 storage containers, and the crowd
Photo by Patrick Heagney
Karyn Lu playing vioin atop one of the storage containers at the evetnt, with the i45 logo projected onto the trees behind her
Photo by David William Turner