ART120 Intermediate Photography

Capturing KODAMA

My final project for ART120 was creating a film strip style documentation of a hybrid performance at the end of the year show. The idea was to capture the artist's motivations, preparation, setup and the performance.


Investigating documentation methodologies 




Documenting Media Artworks.

Last week I began documenting one of my media artworks:

The end result was I giving a minute and a half long technological demonstration of the project, but it did not fully capture what I hoped it would.

It is essentially a `Data Visualization and Gesture based Data Interaction project where the viewer can use his hand gestures to explore Seattle Public Libraries massive data set. While documenting my work, I realized how difficult it could be to preserve an artwork that doesn’t have any physical composition. So, I decided to research a little on this topic and write this paper based off my findings.

Media artworks encompass a broad range of contemporary art forms, which include but are not limited to performance arts and media installations. Traditional means of documentation successfully capture the physical properties and tangible aspects of the artwork that are the trademarks to uniquely identify with the artwork. This is not the case for media artworks where the focus is not on the physical integrity of the artwork but on the representation. The integrity is in danger of sub standard video compression, or by compromising the ambient conditions during the recording.

I have tried my best to create a workflow to video document such a work based on my leanings of mise - en - scene.

Introduction to the Artwork:

The opening scene introduces the media artwork and the media artist to the general audience along with a few takes of the installation in action. Personal preference, one long take to generate intrigue and the opportunity to introduce the artwork.



Just like traditional artworks, a media artist has a vision and the artwork itself is the medium to achieve that vision. It is important to understand the idea that the artist is trying to get across to his audience. A quick interview with the artist can be really helpful in getting his point across efficiently. However it is important to note that this should not take precedence over the artwork: The media artwork should stand on its own without the artist trying to ‘clarify’.

Decision making process:

Developing media artwork is an iterative process. Usually there are several versions that are developed keeping in mind for both hardware and software restrictions. The process can take a couple of weeks to maybe a few months. These decisions inform the final product and hence are an important part of the project. Documenting the decision making process is very hard as it need to be done over a long period of time: it is best to create video snippets of it from time to time to keep track of the development of the artwork.

Technologies used:

For most media artworks, the technology itself is the material that the artist works with. Usually the technology being invisible to the audience maybe considered irrelevant but it is and important part of the documentation as it is essentially the ‘tools’ that the artist used.  The aesthetic and computational elements of technical components need to be explored to fully understand the working of the artwork

Installation Process:

Media artworks can be appreciated once they are installed. A deeper understanding of its behavior and limits can be established when the artwork is being installed for the performance. It is during this phase that one can understands the spatial qualities and restrictions of the media artwork.


Interactive installations engage the crowd in intuitive ways and delight them by surprising them in novel ways. Documenting the end result of the artwork is as important as the process. To successfully do this, one needs to capture the installation in its fully functional form and focus on its interactions with the general audience.  To wrap it, why not talk to the people themselves and see what they have to say about the artwork?


Capturing Primevera Arts Festival