Summer Research Dispatch: Emily Gui & Zoom Glitches

12 Aug, 2020

Summer Research Dispatch: Emily Gui & Zoom Glitches

Each year, the Berkeley Center for New Media is thrilled to offer summer research awards to support our graduates in their cutting edge work. Below, Emily Gui describes how she used the funds to work on documenting and processing this unprecedented time.

Sheltering in place this summer has shifted the focus of my work in unexpected ways. As more of my relationships, communications, commitments and distractions have moved onto the screens of my laptop and phone, my sense of connection, public space and home has changed drastically. My work over the summer has been an attempt to document and process these moments through the media, emotions and details of this unprecedented time.

The main creative project that I have embarked on this summer is currently a collection of short films that utilizes and embraces the glitchy qualities of Zoom. Although Zoom was a new platform to me at the beginning of this year, like many, I have rapidly adapted to this technology as one of the main modes of communication throughout the coronavirus pandemic thus far. In the film, an anonymous subject’s body bleeds in and out of abstracted but ordinary domestic “backgrounds” recorded (primarily) through Zoom. While the work is still in progress, I see the piece as a response and archive of this unique moment in time. The work is both diaristic and personal, but also intended to be open and simultaneously strange and familiar. I hope to capture a dream-like quality through my exploration. I’m interested in how our collective sense of space is being changed right now, as many are avoiding shared spaces (especially of recreation) and become accustomed to distance from one another. I envision this work installed as an immersive projected installation with both traditional and non-traditional screens, and projections directly onto the architecture of a space. I intend for this to add new layers to the disorienting fore-ground/background and including found sculptural objects (possibly including phones, laptops and other domestic objects) highlighted in the pieces. I expect to have regular access to my studio space at Richmond field station in the next few weeks and I look forward to experimenting by finally installing the work in space.

Although this summer has not materialized the way that I imagined when I made my proposal in the spring, I am very grateful for the BCNM Summer research grant, which has allowed me to fully explore this new media project.