Thursday, May 31, 2012

Site- Specific Documentation

            The Can Opener Collection is the first collection to receive a site-specific documentation of a person (besides myself) interacting with an object. The owner of a luncheonette agreed to be filmed using his table mounted can opener. This clip extends the context of this collection not only with an industrial style can opener, but also with the documentation of someone else’s knowledge of operating it. Documenting this performance needed to be completed in a timely manner and organized to fulfill the collections pre-existing characteristics.

            Loose planning and communication tended to help realize the documentation experience. This planning began with a sketch of the placement layout of the person, the object, written notation of the physical activity involved, and the documenting equipment. The sketch is the image attached to this post. Of course, equipment (camera and lights) is a priority, but a white background was also mandatory to be consistent with the collection’s focus of the social interactions between people and objects. By showing previous clips of the Can Opener Collection to the luncheonette owner, it was communicated that there was a need for a white background in order to block out the overall luncheonette environment. The can opener is mounted on a wooden cutting table and a white background does not need to extend onto the table since this is part of the objects features.
            The other features that needed to be considered were the activity of the interaction. I had the basic understanding of how the can opener functioned in the initial conversation about the documentation. The sketch only presents the first act of the interaction, which is breaking the seal of the can. The vertical motion of the handle of the can opener being raised and then lowered with force on the can needed a wider perspective than what I usually document from my intimate studio table set-up. After the seal is broken on the can, the handle folds over and becomes the crank that spins the can to open it. A test shot of the height of the handle being raised and the proper distance for the camera visibly showed the white paper background was at the right height and documentation could begin.
             The performance and documentation went smoothly.  The video clip visually represents the context of the Can Opener Collection. That is of the tangible work from a table mounted can opener opening a can, along with the intangible work of the luncheonette owner’s knowledge of the process to use the tool to open the lid of a can.
            To view the clip and the May 2012 Recent Additions of the Can Opener Collection please visit the website.

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