We all have made relationships with people, whether it be family, friends, or lovers, we have all experienced relationships of different magnitudes that have had an effect on us in some way. With some of our relationships, we feel growth from them and feel like our lives have improved because we were able to share our life with these certain people. However, with some other relationships, we feel as if they tear us down or make our lives harder because of our involvement with them. This concept of a relationship either building us up or tearing us down is what I would like to base my final project upon. My piece, titled “Better With You//Better Without You”, will attempt to illustrate the feelings behind this concept – the feeling of growing and being built up by a healthy, happy relationship, and being torn down and broken by a toxic, unhealthy relationship. My piece will be slightly interactive – when a visitor enters the space, the piece will detect their presence and, depending on which space you are in, will change. If the visitor is in the room that is meant to illustrate being “better with you”, the room will grow and show beautiful, flourishing nature and floral patterns to show that now that the visitor is in the room, things are better. In the other space, meant to illustrate being “better without you”, when the piece detects the visitor’s presence, it will begin to break down and fall into turmoil to show that the space was better without the visitor being there. These spaces are meant to create an emotional environment to invoke feelings of being part of a relationship that was better with or without someone in it. The aesthetics of the piece play an extremely important role in this.
Between the two spaces, I will be using two normal range projectors, two Xbox Kinects to use for user detection, and two computers to run the piece. In the “better with you” space, fake flowers will be pasted along the walls, and will be illuminated by the projector when visitors are detected. Painted black cardboard boxes will be pasted all over the spaces as well in order to give the rooms texture and a 3D feeling, which could evoke a larger feeling of immersion within the piece. In terms of audio/sound, a sweet, slow song will begin to play when the visitor enters the “better with you” room, as opposed to the “better without you” room which will play abstract, distorted electronic music at the visitor’s presence. Along with the musical sounds, I’d like to put soft voice overs of emotional, relationship-related phrases over the music, as well as putting those phrases in text as part of the visual effects of the piece.
One of the biggest inspirations for my piece was the aesthetics of “Borderless”, a projection mapped dreamworld created by TeamLab in Japan. The piece uses a lot of floral and low light, calming visuals to transport the visitor into a fantasy, dream-like landscape. This is the kind of aesthetic and feeling I would like to provide visitors, especially within the “better with you” portion of my piece. I would really like to bring in a lot of floral visuals and transform the space into a fantastical environment for my visitors to try to get as much emotion as possible from them. The more fantasy-like I can make it, the better the reaction I can get from the user.
Another inspiration for me is the work of South Korean artist Jung Lee. Lee explores language and its large impact on our emotions within her work, often using language that is used between loved ones in positive and negative ways. She usually does pieces where she will create neon signs of text and puts them out into a beautiful scene of nature and photographs it. She’s used phrases like “WHY?”, “I still remember”, and “I LOVE YOU WITH ALL MY HEART” in her pieces – all phrases that can be interpreted differently by each viewer and associated with our own emotional memories within relationships. Her pieces have inspired me to use language within my own piece, as words/phrases can be so subjective and have so many different emotional outcomes for those who read or hear them. A phrase as simple as “I still remember” can hold a lot of weight for someone, especially if they are able to associate that phrase with an actual moment within a relationship that they’ve experienced, and I want to do my best to allow for those types of emotional associations within my work.
Lastly, one more piece that inspired me was Deepjyoti Kalita’s piece titled “Change Me/Be Like Me”. It depicted a photograph of him with the phrases “change me” and “be like me” carved into his chest and back, implying some sort of self-inflicted torture. The piece provides commentary on how sometimes in relationships can be obsessive or insane, and how we sometimes tend to torture ourselves in order to please the people we are in relationships with. This piece really spoke to me because in my past experience with relationships, I’ve tortured and sacrificed myself for my partners and friends, and have left feeling broken and drained afterwards. This was an inspiration for my “better without you” portion of my piece, because when in relationships, we can lose ourselves to other people and end up hurting ourselves in the process and even sometimes wishing we had never been involved with those people in the first place. Thus, we were better off without them. Sometimes, (most of the time) relationships aren’t worth the torture we put ourselves through, but we do it anyways because we yearn for love and affection, and then we come out of it feeling lost and torn down.
In summation, I’m hoping that my installation will be able to be an emotional and beautiful experience for visitors. I want to create an atmosphere centered around the deep feelings, the hurt, and the love produced by the relationships we create with the people around us through the audio and visual effects I produce. I want each viewer to be able to interpret the experience based on their own personal associations with good and bad relationships, and be able to reflect on what kind of relationships they can benefit from and what kind they could do without.