Gita Hashemi: Of Shifting Shadows

 
  • ©2000, Gita Hashemi

  • ©2000, Gita Hashemi

Artist(s):


Title:


    Of Shifting Shadows

Exhibition:


Creation Year:


    2000

Medium:


    Interactive CD-ROM

Category:


Keywords:



Artist Statement:


    “The origin is not a point. It cannot be defined, explicated, represented. The origin has no fixed coordinates. It is a continuum, a non-delimited space.”

    Taken from a commentary by The Author, a silent character in “Of Shifting Shadows,” these words encapsulate the approach of this interactive hypermedia narrative in its attempt to represent the unrepresentable. Using video, animation, spoken word, text, and archival material (in English and Farsi), this CD-ROM presents the tales, past and present, poetic and abrasive, of three fictional women—Bica, Mina, and Gali—who lived through the 1979 Iranian Revolution and its aftermaths.

    Portraying the shifting character of exilic existence, “Of Shifting Shadows” is driven by its content. Hashemi uses hypermedia technologies and artistic practices to intensify expression without overwhelming the senses, to play with form, to amplify dialogue, and to transform experience without the pretense of virtuality. The open-ended narrative unfolds in 48 segments, each layered with smaller narratives that are inhabited by bodies and voices, animated by metaphor and metonymy, and connected through movements that reenact a ritual of remembrance, personalized by each viewer’s individual engagement. Although a narration of the Iranian experience, the work enters a universal stage as it embraces broader themes of displacement and alienation that permeate our collective histories of social trauma.

    “Of Shifting Shadows” variously takes shape as a political history, a life story, and a poetic reflection through its use of the medium’s affinity for the non-linear movements of memory. When the viewer’s subjectivity suffuses and connects with the narrative’s fragmented spaces in the process of “reading,” the work engages the viewer as both witness and accomplice in exploring a highly specific, yet “non-delimited” space.

    Visually lyrical, and full in charge of its medium, the interface deliberately uses a conventional interaction methodology that, aptly – and perhaps ironically, seems transparent because it allows the technology to disappear to let content speak for itself, though not by itself. As voices and histories are thus recovered, the work imparts a certain anxiety that characterizes responsibility, expecting the viewer to think and learn, not immerse and indulge. – Carly Butler

     


Affiliation Where Artwork Was Created:


    Exisle Creations

Contributors:


    Programmer, Don Sinclair; director of readings, Philip Shepherd; narrator, Veronica Hurnik; dancer, Roula Said; sound designer, Scott Kennedy; videographers, Alina Martiros, Iraj Rahmani, Gali Moradi; photographer, Mina Rastgoo; art director, Bica Javan; composer, Gary Atkins; on-line editor, David Findlay; producer, Suzie Mukherji. Written, directed and produced by Gita Hashemi.


Other Information:


    A composite showing shots from four narrative segments that exist at the same level and are cross-linked. The four sections of the screen delineate the individual spaces of the characters. The three sets of three arabesque motifs function as navigational tools that allow for linear reading through the characters’ stories (the author’s segments at the bottom are non-navigable and are triggered by the other characters’ stories). Lateral movement is possible by clicking in a different character’s space. (top)

    Extracted stills from some of the hand movements that mark the beginning of most video segments in Of Shifting Shadows. The choreography incorporates elements from the richly symbolic dances of southwest Asia. This composite also appears on the cover of the CD-ROM. (bottom)