This piece is in progress. It is an interactive installation which will also have an audio recording (narrative) triggered by the same sensor that triggers the lights. The first person narrative will reveal the life and death of Catherine, a sex worker murdered in 2003.
This series will be an ongoing memorial for sex workers who have been victims of violence.
The first draft will be completed on December 17th, 2009 to coincide with the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers.
I have made some progress on my final project. I was able to get three feet of LEDs (300 LEDs per 5 meter, if I understand correctly.) They are pretty bright white, stark even. I will be able to make a cut at any two inch point and rewire and solder to power and ground. The LED strips were pretty expensive at almost $20/foot. I purchased three feet. They had denser variations (600 LEDs +) but they were far more expensive and didn’t seem necessary to accomplish lighting a small box. Canal Lighting was my source and they were stellar but expensive.
I also went to Canal Plastic and purchased several sheets of 12″x12″ plastic in various forms. I purchased 2″x2″ samples first because they were only a dollar a piece. I purchased a two-way mirror at the suggestion of Chika, translucent white, and frosted clear plastics. I drew out my construction plans and dimensions based on the cost of the plastics since I wasn’t committed to my initial dimensions. Even with my adjustments to accommodate for costs, each box is going to cost about $200 to construct. Therefore, I will only be creating one box for this final.
I tested out an old blender marker which I am pretty sure still contains Xylene since I feel slightly stoned from inhaling the sweet fragrance. I also found an old carbon print from my Div III at Hampshire to test the marker with. Carbon prints and the sent of blender markers in the middle of the night give me tremendous nostalgia for my Div III (thesis). In any case, I tested the chemical on all three plastics. I was disappointed to find out that the mirror coating renders the blender marker ineffective in adhering inks to the surface of the plastic. It worked fairly well on the translucent white but seemed most effective on the frosted clear plastic which I accredit to the small ridges and dips in the surface. It gives the ink a place to sink in, so to speak.
So my new plan is to buy another sheet of the frosted plastic and chemically transfer the image there. and then adhere it behind the two way mirror. I tested it on the 2″x2″ pieces and it was visible but it will be hard to say how it will pan out with the LEDs. I have a lot of testing left to do in the next two week, not to mention both Arduino and Processing programming and the physical construction of the box.
I’ve had a difficult time finding a cohesive narrative for the story so I am playing around with more abstract imagery and reading a list of names of sex workers who died in the past year as the audio component. I could really use feedback on this change of plans, though.
I am also interested collecting images and stories of other sex worker victims of violent crime for this project.
I am also looking for footage from December 17th events, statistics, and red umbrella imagery and footage to work from. I put a call out to advocacy organizations, harm reduction social service providers in New York and beyond, and sex worker communities online to gather stories. So far the contributions have been intense and overwhelming. Each year we hold a memorial service for sex workers who were murdered because of their job: by clients, cops, partners, or the system (prison industrial complex).
I envision images transferred onto plexiglass using xylene. The plexiglass surface would be part of larger light boxes. When a user approaches an image on the light box, an infrared proximity sensor or photo resistor would recognize the environmental change, causing the image to light up. I would also like to using Processing to then display video or audio to accompany each image. The impact should be immediate, visceral, and haunting.
I will probably start with a small number of people to represent, maybe five, until I work out the technological end and then continue on. This idea is a work in progress and feedback is welcome.