Category: Assignments 2018 / Blog / Final Projects / Projects 2018
Arrogance is a performance based projection piece that explores the claims of republican elected officials and exposes the hypocrisy and danger of their claims. Arrogance revolves around a quote taken from Tim Walberg and Jim Inhofe who are state representatives in our federal government. Both these representatives believe that humans are not the cause of climate change, and that god is the only person who can fix this.
My goal was to enhance this claim by overlaying it on top of footage of pollution that they directly contributed to. Both the footage and quote were projected onto a large wall and a single individual with the task of cleaning up the mess made by these politicians.
The following quote was the foundation of the piece:
“The arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what God is doing in the climate is to me outrageous. I’m confident that, if there’s a real problem, god can take care of it.”
The main questions I asked at the beginning of this process was how to expose the hypocrisy of this quote, and how could I get the audience to empathize with this quote from their personal relationship with the environment. My initial concept was to have this quote projected over three walls, with footage pollution from the steel, oil, and coal playing in the background. In the center of the of the room would be a single individual dressed as a janitor, mopping up oil of the ground. The oil was to be spread around the room before the performance started, giving the individual a task of endurance to complete throughout the duration of the piece.
My main areas of research revolved around political background of Tim Walberg and Jim Inhofe. Looking into the campaign finances of both representatives, I found that there main contributors were from the Coal, Oil, and Steel industry, specifically; Alro Steel, Murray Energy, and Exxonmobil. All three of these companies have been accused by the EPA of causing environmental damage. To incorporate this information into my piece, I took time researching the claims made by the EPA and found as much footage as I could to use during the performance. This also involved researching the sounds of these industrial plants so I could incorporate that into the performance as well.
To produce the piece I used MadMapper for the projections and Ableton Live to compose the sound design. I used a BenQ projector to project onto a wall about about 12 feet tall and 30 feet wide. The projection consisted of three videos; and oil spill in alaska, an industrial steel plant and an industrial coal plant. Overlayed onto the videos was the quote featured above. The audio combined sounds of an ocean, an industrial oil rig, an old steel plant, and the audio from the senate deposition of Kathleen Hartnett White.
When the audience walks in, they are to be confronted with the janitor in the middle of his task, mopping up crude oil. The projection however would be reflecting off his attire making him blend in seamlessly with the projection. There should be no barrier between the audience and the janitor working. While the audience reads the quote and registers the relation between the quote and the footage, the audio of Kathleen Hartnett white should tie together the political relation to this quote. At this point, I would hope the audience would start to guess what words were in the blank spaces in the text, forcing them to fill in the blanks and subconsciously project their own beliefs onto it. After filling in the blanks with their own beliefs, the impossible task the janitor is doing should set in. The task is futile for one person to handle on their own and to watch one person attempt to clean up this mess on their own should evoke the necessity that we must all work together to clean up the harm we’ve done to the planet.
Because of the performative nature of the piece, my prototyping involved recording my test performances and sharing them with peers for review. My first prototype consisted of just the projection of the pollution footage and the quote. Upon seeing the quote projected for the first time, it was noticed by my peers that there was a separation of self because the quote. The quotes reference to god implied that the quote only applied to religious believers. It was then I realized the crux of the quote wasnt that god will fix the planet, it was that this problem is not our fault and that it’s not our job to fix it. After realizing this, I decided to remove the words God from the quote with the hope that the audience would fill in the blanks of where the words God were on their own.
On my second prototype I had actual recording of myself mopping in front of the projection with the audio playing. My main note was that the prototype didn’t reflect the government’s relation to the quote. The fact that those words were said by elected officials was being lost. To solve this issue I added the audio from the senate hearing of Kathleen Hartnett White, Trump’s nominee to head the Council on Environmental Quality. Her words summarized the republican standpoint on climate change and the audio from the hearing sufficiently added the feeling of the government’s role in the piece.