Saturday, October 24, 2015

Lobby Cam part five

August 9th
The remote cafe and toy shop

     Today I just walked my fields with my mind preoccupied by the feeling that I had seen a clue
yesterday.   Something I couldn't quite put my finger on.
 I was full of ennui so I came in and put on the lobby cam.   I watched the room again, feeling as though there was something before me that I was missing.  As though I didn’t have the city eyes required to see a clue that my rural upbringing missed.  Suddenly
the postman came into view.  It's funny but everything
seems “sudden” with a security camera. Hours of stillness
 broken by a few minutes of movement.  The postman
 rooted around in his mailbag and then began filling the
 mailboxes with the detritus of life.  Feeding their little
mouths bills, advertising, promotions and then the letters.
          That dying breed of communication.  

     He passed by Ferns box without opening it, as he so
often seems to do, then finally places a letter upon the
table and leaves. 

I watch the room for too long.

Paintings of a toy maker

 The toy maker continues his daily routine then later, at dinner, he watches Ferns routine.  He imagines that there is something, a clue of some sort hidden, which could be revealed if only he saw through the eyes of a more experienced person.

Paintings of a toy maker (star wars)
     When I built his home I tried to imagine what a toy maker might paint.  I decided that he would have a soft spot for star wars dolls and so his paintings were action figures put together in funny little combinations like still lifes.  I had lots of fun painting these.  They have titles like "I am pooped.. Darth choked me so many times today!" showing a stack of stormtroopers exhausted on the floor.  Or there is one of Chewbacca and Dark Vader wrestling and a little concerned guy saying "Hey guys stop it! come on stop it!".  Another shows all those monsters from the Cantina meeting after work and saying "you guys want to go to the cantina tonight?"  Because, you know, even on other planets well into the future Friday nights can still have limited boring options.

August 10th

The lobby camera channel
     What is wrong with me?  I sit waiting to catch a glimpse of a woman who doesn't know I exist nor ever will.  I feel as though she is my friend, I feel protective of her and jealous of a possible lover.  It's insane.  It's embarrassingly stupid of me.  I have never really felt my loneliness though I have sensed it, but now, suddenly I wish nothing more than to talk to Fern.  To tell her... to tell her what?  That I watch her on a security camera from thousands of kilometers away?  that she has become the joy in my day and that my greatest fear is my TV will realize it's impossible to pick up a signal from a building so far away, that one day I will turn on the TV to find the channel gone as though it had never existed.
     What I am doing it must be unhealthy mustn't it?  Am I that creep from a horror movie but I just don't realize it?  As I wrote this my eyes blurred then cleared  as a tear was born.  I am ashamed of myself, a grown man weeping.  Tomorrow I must take down the satellite dish.

     In the August 10th diary entry we learn something important about the toy maker.  We realize that he is aware and embarrassed that he is stuck in a sort of addiction.  His words might echo the thoughts of the guest reading this story, and where we may have been thinking "Come on guy get it together" he voices this so we are left, hopefully, imagining that if someone who thinks the same as we might also be acting the same as we would in a similar circumstance.  Can you then imagine yourself coming to act in this way if put in the same circumstances?  This naturally requires us to look within ourselves with an honest eye and imagine what seclusion and loneliness might bring out in us from the nooks and crannies we don't know exist or keep hidden. 
     In Toronto I often feel like I am in a bustling city teaming with people.. but alone.  I rarely speak to those on the subway or streets, and to be honest I often don't even register other people around me as the city is too big to bump into friends, and so if I don't expect to see anyone I know then those around me are fleeting people who, in moments, will likely disappear never to be seen again.   So why invest time into someone you will never see again?  That is the sad slowly seeping mentality of those who live in the city for too long.  That is where Fern is at and she is as remote and lonely in her own way as the toy maker.   He thinks he can see this in her, but he also knows it is ridiculous to imagine that he in any way knows this person from simply seeing her for minutes silently reading letters each day.  His rational mind is telling him that he is being irrational, and that the satellite dish must come down for him to reclaim his life before discovering the lobby camera channel.  So even though his odd routine brings him happiness, he knows that society would disapprove and so he must willingly go back to a sadder state in life.   Is he a creep or is he perhaps a decent man in a difficult situation?

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Lobby Cam part four

August 4th

      Today when Fern came home I spoke out loud to the room "Oh hello Fern! How was your ride on the T.T.C subway or better known as the Toronto Transit Commission? I felt myself smiling feeling a bit like Sherlock Holmes. I had typed T.T.C into my antiquated computer and discovered that my Fern lived an hour in my future. She lives in Toronto where it is 7pm to my 6pm in Saskatchewan. 
      After speaking out loud to her I felt a bit silly talking to a girl hundreds of kilometers away who has no idea I even exist. It is funny and a bit sad because she has become almost a friend to me now. I look forward to seeing her and I have not watched another channel in days. 

510 Spadina Streetcar

August 8th

     Today as I was eating Fern came in and I said "Oh hello Fern you won't believe what I saw flying..." and then I stopped and sat up almost spilling my dinner.  Behind Fern walked a man.  She awkwardly opened her mail slot, peered inside its empty space and then closed it.  I could see her hesitate, looking down to her letters on the table.  I found myself murmuring "go on get your mail Fern.."  but she just looked on them.  A moment later she turned, and after having seemed to come to a decision, left the lobby without picking up her mail.  The man followed behind and suddenly tickled her.  She squirmed and said something with a smile which I couldn't quite make out, then they were past the security camera and gone to her apartment. 
      I watched the empty lobby for a while.  I was surprised to find my heart racing and feeling a bit hurt.  Perhaps he is her brother I explained to the empty room.  I watched the lobby channel well past midnight then turned it off.  The man did not leave.   

     My sleep was restless like the wheat gently moving to the night breezes outside my home.

Subway platform oil painting
oil painting
     Over the next few letters we see the man become more attached to Fern.  She fills a space in his secluded quiet life which he spends so close to nature.  She is also a mystery to him and both mystery and challenge are powerful allures.  He finds a clue as to where she lives.  
     If you were to be interested in a boy or girl you see regularly in the local coffee shop would you look for clues about their life and where they lived?  No most wouldn't as it's a bit creepy.  But this particular scenario of her at a distance, the unlikeliness of them ever meeting and, strangely, the voyeuristic nature allows him to project or imagine her as being a quiet nice girl, but also it dehumanizes her in such a way that he feels comfortable treating her differently than he might a person in "real" life.  For one thing TV or reality tv has shown us is that those who appear on a screen are held in a different category than those around us.  It is a one way mirror where we can watch them but they can not see us.  Perhaps without two way interaction common etiquette fades.  People say to me sometimes when they discover that residents buy couches and houses and things in this virtual world.  They say "But these products don't exist? they spend real money on these things?"   And I say... well naturally.  When you and millions of others buy and read a book such as Harry Potter you are aware that wizards don't exist.  You understand that the red haired guy and the girl didn't really fall in love but rather it is all make believe.  An escape perhaps.  If you pay to go to a music concert and stay until the final note fades into nothing, then what do you have after that?  You don't have a possession but you have a memory.  Our consumerist society needs us to appreciate the possession almost more than the memory.  It is essential for the economy.  The man in this story has something precious to him in Fern, in knowing she will be there at the end of his lonely day, something others may not understand but she is, to him,  a missing piece or a surrogate friend.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Lobby Cam part three

July 26th

     While I was out in the fields today, strangely, my mind kept returning to the lobby camera.  I imagined the bustling life there perhaps with a person to match each strand of wheat in my field.  I went home, made dinner and found the lobby channel.   She walked in almost immediately, opened her mailbox and peered inside.  From the table she picked up her letters and started to read them.  She is slight, small and almost homely.  I can see a flicker of a smile flow across her face like the wind waves across my wheat as she reads.  Who is she?  What does she do?  Does she live alone?  I bet she has cats.  Enough to give her an uncomfortable sleep as they lay claims to different parts of her bed.  As I was daydreaming she suddenly left.  "Bye Fern" I murmured out loud.  I decided to name her Fern after the thin,  graceful yet resilient plants who suffered the wind gusts by my barn.   I watched the silent lobby for a moment and hesitated, then I saved the channel into my "favorites".

   One of the topics behind this narrative is the way in which we project personalities, morals and other attributes onto individuals whom we come across through watching the various media we interact with on a regular basis.  So that ranges from reality shows which give the impression we can safely watch others anonymously then are expected to offer an opinion, an opinion that counts through voting etc, on who or what they are based on the contrived editing which accompanies that shows particular narrative.  There are many variations of this scenario but I chose to use a security camera and a girl who the main character comes to feel he knows.

August 3rd

     A week has gone by and I find myself watching the lobby channel more often.  I am curious if perhaps Fern goes out later at night or ever comes home with a friend, but I never see her outside my dinner time.  It is 6pm and I am eating my dinner, but I think she is just getting home from work.  People in cities finish work around 5pm don't they?   
     I saw her drop a piece of paper as she picked up her letters from the table.  A long slip of paper with some red on the end.  Big letters T.T.C  emblazoned at the top.. what is that?

For the unnamed man the arrival of Fern has invigorated him in some manner that is unexpected even to himself.    The peculiarity of the situation mingled with an alluring young lady create a mystery for him to consider during the routine of his quiet life.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Lobby Cam part two

     The viewer walks into a field of wheat that blows around them sometimes vigorously while others quiet and gentle.  It feels almost like a sea undulating and pulsing with a high contrast to the viewer standing still and the old rusted truck in the field.  One of the themes I like to work with is the idea of technological triumphs in the human race being forgotten, decaying with nature slowly and inexorably reclaiming them then incorporatating those objects into its own environment.  The previous use or function of our achievements being forgotten.   The old rusted truck is one such object.  To the birds it is just a convenient island in the sea of wheat to land upon.  One such bird enjoying the view from the open door is a red winged blackbird.  Throughout the build are field recordings of this bird which you can hear mixed with the drone of crickets and the wind.  What I wanted to do was create an immersive environment which would also work well with my occulus rift which I have been testing.  When I stand in the field with the virtual reality headset on then it really does become a rather charming immersive space.   Sadly I am a bit too far ahead testing this new technology as so few have the headset yet, and Lobby Cam will be deleted before the headsets arrive over the next several months.

After walking a bit the visitor will find a new diary entry.  I built this work so that it didn't matter what order you found the pages on the sim they would always reveal the next page in the diary.  The pages themselves blow around randomly but always stay within a fairly small radius so they can be found in general areas.   The next page is for July 24th.

July 24th

Fern on the Lobby Security Camera
I came in from the fields today, made dinner and sat down to watch TV as I am accustomed to doing.  A funny thing happened though.  I was flipping through the TV channels and came to one I had never seen.  It was channel R46 and I don't think it was even there before.  Anyway, all it showed was an empty lobby for an apartment building.  I realized it was a lobby security camera because as I was watching a young lady came into the picture and checked her mail within a wall of little red metal mailboxes.  My view was from up in a corner looking down on her, she read some mail from a table, opened a door then disappeared from view.  After she left I watched for a little bit and it seemed as though the lobby almost returned to a frozen state of waiting.   

Complete stillness only moments before brought to life by the presence of this young lady.

The unnamed author of these diary entries is a toy maker and his diary contains little images he collects of things which inspire him or reflect his current state of mind in regards to the diary entries they accompany.   The next entry.

 July 25th

I came in from the fields today, made dinner and sat down to watch TV.  The news was of a war torn Ukraine, ISIS and Ebola.  As I was watching I remembered the Lobby camera channel and switched over to see it during the commercials.  It was the same empty room, almost like a photograph.  I don't really know what I was expecting or even why I went there.  Just as I was about to go back to watch the news she appeared.  The girl from yesterday.  She wore a grey sweater and some leggingsTo me a cosmopolitan office look of some sort, though I am certainly no expert on that considering where I live.  She went to her mailbox, opened it and peered inside to find nothing.  She picked up her mail from a table and began to read a letter.  I watched as her mouth moved from a frown to a cute smile.  She laughed and it lit up her eyes.  

 There is nothing so pretty as an unwatched girl.   

     She put down her letter and disappeared  into the building. 

I watched for a few moments longer then went back to the news.  A story on the Malaysia Airlines passenger plane shot down over Ukraine.  298 dead and everyone pointing fingers.  I turned it off.  How could I possibly get reception from a security camera to my TV?  I thought they were local or something.  There is not an apartment building within 200 kilometers to where I live.  

 Is she even in the same country as me?