Camille Utterback: Untitled 5 (External Measures Series)

  • ©2005, Camille Utterback

  • ©2005, Camille Utterback

  • ©2005, Camille Utterback



    Untitled 5 (External Measures Series)


Creation Year:



    Custom software, video camera, computer, projector


    Minimum 7 feet x 10 feet screen, 7 feet x 1 0 feet interaction area


Artist Statement:

    Untitled 5 is the fifth interactive installation in the External Measures Series, which Camille Utterback has been developing since 2001. The goal of these works is to create an aesthetic system that responds fluidly and intriguingly to physical movement in the exhibit space. The installations respond to their environment via input from an overhead video camera. Custom video tracking and drawing software output a changing wall projection in response to the activities in the space. The existence, positions, and behaviors of various parts of the projected image depend entirely on people’s presence and movement in the exhibit area. Untitled 5 creates imagery that is painterly, organic, and evocative while still being completely algorithmic. To create this work, Utterback first develops sets of animated marks whose parameters and behaviors are controlled by people’s movements. Then, out of a working “palette” of these animated marks, she composes an overall composition. The composition balances responses whose logic is immediately clear with responses that feel connected to viewer’s movements, but whose logic remains complex and mysterious. Integral to the piece are the animated marks’ cumulative interaction with each other over time. As a person moves through the space, a network of gray lines flickers around the person’s body and immediately indicates his or her presence. A colored line maps the person’s trajectory across the projection screen, creating a temporal history of the movement. When a person leaves the installation, the trajectory line is transformed by an overlay of tiny organic marks. These marks can now be pushed from their location by other people’s movement in the space. Displaced trajectory marks attempt to return to their original location, creating smears and streaks of color as they move. The resulting painterly swaths of color occur at the intersections between current and previous motion in the space, elegantly connecting different moments of time. Untitled 5 reacts to stillness as well as motion, creating delicate sprays of dots where someone has stood still. While people’s presence generates marks, it also slowly erases earlier marks. While the specific rules of the system are never explicitly revealed to participants, the internal structure and composition of the piece can be discovered through a process of kinesthetic exploration. Engaging with this work creates a visceral sense of unfolding or revelation, but also a feeling of immediacy and loss. The experience of this work is the experience of embodied existence itself: a continual flow of unique and fleeting moments. The effect is at once sensual and contemplative.