My short film “Video Aquarium” was made in collaboration with a number of other artists and my pet turtle, who accompanied me on my move to Germany. The movie is a document of a device I constructed, seen from the inside and out. It is like a Skinner Box, or Operant Conditioning Chamber, although what sort of behavior it might condition remains obscure. I assembled 16 flatscreens purchased from a local thrift store into a 360 degree theater which surrounds the turtle’s aquarium. These are playing a sequence of 360 degree, mostly underwater videos, taken from advertisements for the 360 degree camera arrays which produced them. The turtle wears a small camera on a belt around her middle, and documents the environment.
Intercut with this is a series of black and white shots made with 16mm film, showing various details of the exterior of the device, then the device in its entirety, and finally, the exterior of the apartment in which I live. Video Aquarium’s provisional aesthetics stand as a rebuke to its subject (hi-res immersive video environments) and process ("clean room"-type cognitive experimentation), and their ubiquitous contemporary deployments in big budget nature documentaries and science fiction films.