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Blow Up by Scott Snibbe

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Uploaded on Feb 13, 2008

http://www.snibbeinteractive.com
http://snibbe.com/scott/breath/blowup...
by Scott Snibbe

Blow Up records, amplifies, and projects human breath into a room-sized field of wind. The installation comprises two devices. The first is a rectangular array of twelve small impellers, which stands on a table on one side of the gallery. This small input device is electronically linked to a large wall of twelve electric fans, which divides the gallery in half. Each tabletop impeller is spatially and temporally synchronized to a corresponding fan in the wall, so that the speed and relative movements of each impeller are replicated by the fans' speeds and movements. When "senders" blow into the first device, "receivers" experience the magnified breathing patterns with their entire bodies. When "senders" stop blowing, the wall continues to play back the most recent breathing pattern, captured in an amplified loop, until someone inspires a new pattern.

In the physical world, we become aware of our bodies through transactions with other phenomena. We hear our voices via the vibration of air, we see our faces via the bending of light, and we mark our comings and goings via the signs we leave on the furniture of our everyday lives. Breath is as essential attribute of one's person, whose existence we may only infer through other media: the sight of our chest rising and falling, the sound of air rushing into our sinuses, the disturbance of the atmosphere near our skin. We mentally connect this evidence-of-breath into a coherent whole, and then label it "my breath". Yet what distinguishes "my breath" from mere air and, further, what distinguishes this breath from my person?

Blow Up's simultaneous processes of recording, translation and amplification is meant to increase the breath's salience and legibility, while detaching the breath from the body that allegedly produced it. The process of observing this translation and translocation of respiratory activity may prompt the sender to consider the connection between one's person and the air it exchanges, and, more broadly, the existence of any self independent of the air which signals its presence.

Commissioned by Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco.
Produced with the generous support of Animatics Corporation.

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