A O i am greenscreen

Moving Image & sound, 9’00” / 2020

A commission for:

Beyond Measure group exhibition, University of Leeds Cultural Institute, 2020

Landscape and Goodness, presented by Landscape Research Group, 2020

Crochet collaboration with KobaKant Collective, Berlin

Cinematography / Arata Mori

Blue and green screen is all around us these days, simulating dream-worlds of multi-layered virtual realities where macrocosm and microcosm, human and technology interact endlessly, freely.

On the other side of the screen is the looming reality of ecological collapse, whose colours are also blue and green. Why are blue and green the colours of choice for making things disappear in the virtual world, and the colours of the habitats – oceans and forests — that are most at risk of disappearance or degradation in the manifest, material world. I couldn’t help but want to dive into this weird connection.

Inspired by ancient land rituals, where costumes were created from leaves, grasses or skins, as forms of camouflage, I achieved this effect of camouflage by reversing the function of ‘green screen’. This time, it’s the human that disappears from the scene and the background, its movements and rhythms is allowed to appear, and come into focus.

An electronic crochet object made of wearable sensor technology is the membrane that sonifies this dissolution of boundaries. The data taken from the tai chi forms of a human dancer, and the vibrations of a tree being moved by wind, are mixed together into the music composition in a repetition that sounds like the rhythm of breathing. The word ao in Japanese speaks of an in-between colour. Ao is often used to describe natural phenomena or the sea. In English it’s translated as ‘blue-green’ but what’s lost in this translation is the evocation of a gradient across a wider spectrum of colour. AOI am greenscreen evokes a spectrum of rhythms extending across a vast continuum that spans human and nonhuman and invites the viewer to rethink the power dynamics assumed by human exceptionalism, and how these assumptions and presumptions continue to be deployed in contemporary technologies.

“The tyranny of the photographic lens, cursed by the promise of its indexical relation to reality, has given way to hyperreal representations—not of space as it is, but of space as we can make it—for better or worse. There is no need for expensive renderings; a simple green screen collage yields impossible cubist perspectives and implausible concatenations of times and spaces alike.”

Hito Steyerl, In Free Fall: a thought experiment on vertical perspective