Wak­ing life

Sarah Spen­gler

Pasatiempo - - CONTENTS - — Jennifer Levin

Among other things ware­housed on the in­ter­net is a great trea­sure trove of pic­tures, a dig­i­tal ap­prox­i­ma­tion of a gi­ant flea mar­ket full of peo­ple’s old photos, through which one can ri­fle. Santa Fe artist Sarah Spen­gler is par­tic­u­larly taken with im­ages cap­tured via 3-D mod­el­ing, soft­ware de­signed to catch ev­ery pos­si­ble an­gle on an ob­ject or scene. When look­ing at a 3-D model on a com­puter or elec­tronic de­vice, a viewer can “act as if they are vir­tu­ally in that space,” Spen­gler told

Pasatiempo. “You see as the cam­era would, so you can get closer, or look un­der or from above. There aren’t re­stric­tions of space. You can move through a body.”

Web­sites, such as www.123dapp.com, pro­vide free 3-D soft­ware and space for peo­ple to up­load their 3-D mod­els into the pub­lic do­main. What in­ter­ests Spen­gler is that as a viewer, she can look at a pho­to­graph from an­gles the orig­i­nal pho­tog­ra­pher never planned, be­cause the soft­ware fills in in­for­ma­tional gaps left by the cam­era. “But the soft­ware makes a lot of mis­takes. Things show up that didn’t ex­ist in the real world — streaks of wild color or holes in peo­ple’s bod­ies — anom­alies and com­puter aber­ra­tions.”

Spen­gler’s new me­dia in­stal­la­tion us­ing found 3-D mod­el­ing im­ages, Re­mote Sens­ing, is fea­tured at El Museo Cul­tural de Santa Fe as part of Cur­rents. She cre­ates large-scale archival inkjet prints from the im­ages she cap­tures by mov­ing around in 3-D mod­els and find­ing pho­to­graphs that, as she de­scribed to

Pasatiempo, “weren’t nec­es­sar­ily taken to be­gin with.” Once she screen-cap­tures an an­gle that in­ter­ests her, she then ma­nip­u­lates color and sat­u­ra­tion, among other el­e­ments of the com­po­si­tion, treat­ing it like a paint­ing while leav­ing the ab­nor­mal­i­ties alone. “In some of them you might see a white cir­cle where there’s no in­for­ma­tion gath­ered by the soft­ware. I didn’t go in and erase that,” she said.

The prints in Re­mote Sens­ing have a ghostly yet fu­tur­is­tic qual­ity, ap­prox­i­mat­ing that un­der­wa­ter feel­ing that comes be­tween dream­ing and wak­ing. A blurry boy in shorts and a T-shirt stands with his fists up in a fighter’s stance, while behind him swim kitchen coun­ters, heat­ing vents, pieces of home flirt­ing with the sur­real. A woman in a fuch­sia dress holds an ob­ject in her hands that could be a wine­glass or a crys­tal ball, as the viewer gazes at her from above. In other com­po­si­tions, peo­ple look like dolls lost in a vast, blank land­scape, and lap­top screens wa­ver and rip apart.

“I am al­ways play­ing around with the idea of a future apoca­lypse or look­ing back at so­ci­ety and ex­am­in­ing it,” Spen­gler said. “I have a back­ground in so­cial an­thro­pol­ogy, and I pho­tographed trash for a decade or more, as if I was an ar­chae­ol­o­gist try­ing to un­der­stand cul­ture. This is sort of the same thing. With the amount of dig­i­tal in­for­ma­tion put on­line, you can sort of dig into peo­ple’s lives and their sur­round­ings. To me, it’s the birth of a new medium — the im­per­fec­tions of 3-D mod­el­ing.”

Re­mote Sens­ing, a new-me­dia in­stal­la­tion by Sarah Spen­gler, is fea­tured at El Museo Cul­tural de Santa Fe, from Fri­day, June 10, to June 26.

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