Natalie Bookchin

“Long Story Short”

Abstract: I will be discussing and screening parts of my project, “Long Story Short,” a film, an installation, and an interactive website. The project is drawn from and linked to an archive of 75 video diaries made by very low-income residents of Northern and Southern California, who describe, reflect on, and analyze poverty’s effects on their lives, families, and communities. Instead of a single narrator, there are dozens, with voices layered, and narrators at times appearing to speak in unison, suggesting the scale and multiplicity of poverty, and imagining collectives and social bodies that may not yet exist, or are difficult to see in single video diaries alone. Video diaries were made using webcams and laptops, some of the same technologies – high tech and digital – that ushered in hardships for low-skilled workers and their families in the first place. Here these tools amplify their voices. The installation draws inspiration from one of the more promising aspects of network culture and social media – the shift away from a focus on single voices to that of many, and the expansion of who gets to speak in public and of what we consider to be expert knowledge. Yet participation depends on access, and visibility depends on public and popular affirmation (likes, clicks, shares, remixes). “Long Story Short” represents those mostly misrepresented or invisible on our screens. It reimagines a more social media and explores how depictions of poverty and inequality might benefit from, as well as reflect on, current modes of digital and image mobility, dissemination, and display.

Bio: Natalie Bookchin’s work addresses the social, political, and aesthetic ramifications of mass connectivity and effects of the digitalization of everything on our identities, our desires, and the truths we tell about ourselves and the world. Her work “misuses” technology, commercial platforms and media, using the Internet as a site for art interventions, appropriating security-camera footage found by means of an unexpected glitch in search engines to document global landscapes, and producing collective narratives from isolated individual expression circulating on YouTube. Bookchin’s work has been written about, screened, and exhibited widely, including at LACMA, PS1, Mass MOCA, the Walker Art Center, the Pompidou Centre, MOCA Los Angeles, the Whitney Museum, the Tate, and Creative Time. She has received numerous grants and awards, including from Creative Capital, the California Arts Council, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and most recently, the MacArthur Foundation. Bookchin has been on the faculty of the Art School at CalArts since 1998, and is currently Professor of Media Art in the Visual Arts Department at Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University.