Lincoln Schatz

Video Artist

My work engages chance as a means of breaking habitual modes of thought. I invite chance in the service of creating something beyond my limitations. Software and interactors (people) are the determinants in this process. It is up to the viewer to provide narrative (order and simplification) or to abandon the rational in favor of a more transcendental experience. These ideas were fully implemented in my artistic practice in 2000, when I made the transition from sculptural objects to generative video work.

As a result, my interest focused on ways to create generative systems that utilize chance to produce variable outcomes. Long central to my work was the desire to merge artistic practice with the everyday experience of life, replete with its compounding accrual of information. Combined with a lifelong pursuit of photography, this led me to my Generative Video Portraits in 2001. A video camera mounted over a screen connects to a computer running custom software that determines which video images are shown onscreen, which are saved to memory, and which are deleted.

Chance is the methodology for all selections. Onscreen, the software shows a variant of "real time" mixed with video memory accrued from the start of the piece to the current date. These works collect video from the environment for a minimum of eight years, constantly juxtaposing video memories with real time video onscreen. New possibilities are proposed through a nonlinear assemblage of accrued video and over time, it is statistically improbable that any combination of video would ever repeat. The combinations and re-combinations of video create an infinite number of paths. New ways of seeing emerge. The work functions like a separate being, establishing its own distinct view and memory of its environment.

Through this means, I have realized portraits of domestic environments, high-rise tower construction, helicopter flights over Chicago, and large-scale public interaction.


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  • Lincoln Schatz