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A digital media artwork Written & Directed by Tatiana Pentes. Digital Sound & Moving Image Geoffrey Weary.
"Black box is quite successful in articulating a host of questions about the complex nature of memory and identity in an era of transnational migration...As such the project functions as the kind of 'digital documentary' that producers like Marsha Kinder has theorized..."
Professor Tara McPherson, School of Cinematic Arts, University of Southern California
"This is a beautifully worked and conceptualised composition, and evidences a complex investigation of place, sound, and memory...its uses of colour, tracery and visual echoes are especially poignant...The design of the pathways is elegant and do serve to make the narrative both immediate...The gestural aspect of communication, and of storytelling in particular is embedded in the kinetic relationship between user, text and cursor/mouse."
Stephanie H. Donald, Professor of Comparative Film and Cultural Studies, University of New South Wales.
" Black Box impressivley combines thoughtful scholarship with autobiographical reflection, critical cultural analysis, and artistic practice in interactive multimedia...it is deeply moving and provacative work, and the accompanying text effectively discusses and expands the project. Black Box is a delightful experience, and left me filled with admiration for the beauty, insight and depth of the work..."
Professor Lucy Suchman, Lancaster University, UK
"Pentes' role is crucial in understanding the creative engagement that a digital history can evoke for its audience. While traditional analogue publishing (i.e the book or film) employ designers and artists to draw together content and convey the context and content through the style the object is given, digital publishing arguably requires something both more and different from a designer. The designer/researcher/producer triad becomes very intense, as is the likely audience relationship to the project....Pentes' work began with a complex and creative interpretation of Shanghai as a story-ground (Strange Citites CD-ROM)...A Chinese nightclub singer wends her way through the space, revealing the subtle divisions and hierarchies of race and gender... Pentes'...Black Box...explores memory and culture, again through the body and life of a dancer, where she evoked amongst others, a Chinese box, while painting a digital picture of documented memory..."
Andrew Jakubowicz, Professor of Sociology, University of Technology, Sydney - in"Remembering and recovering Shanghai: seven Jewish families reconnect in cyberspace", in (Ed) Joanne Garde-Hansen, Andrew Hoskins, Anna Reading, SAVE AS...DIGITAL MEMORIES, Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.
Black Box is a rich and beguiling online work - full of surprises, and equally full of ideas. It demonstrates Tatiana's understanding of the possibilities of developing ideas and telling stories on the online environment.
Tony Macgregor, Arts Editor, ABC Radio National, Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Tatiana Pentes, (2009), BLACK BOX: Painting A Digital Picture of Documented Memory, VDM Verlag, Germany.
Tatiana Pentes, (2009), CRUEL BEAUTY: The self-portrait painting of Frida Kahlo, VDM Verlag, Germany.
Interface still from Black Box depicting Rochele the Creole/Indian girl & Nina the Russian/Greek girl by Tatiana Pentes
"It is inscribed as on Pandora's Box...do not open...passions...escape in all directions from a box that lies open..." from Bruno Latour's "Opening Pandora's Box", in Science in Action: How To Follow Scientists & Engineers Through Society, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1987, p1-17.
This work investigates and records the production of a digital media artwork blackBOX: Painting A Digital Picture of Documented Memory, generated through the media technologies of interactive multimedia, exploiting the creative potentials of digitally produced music, sound, image and text relationships in a disc based & online (Internet) environment. The artwork evolves from an imaginary electronic landscape that can be uniquely explored/ played in a non-sequential manner. The artwork/ game is a search for the protagonists hybrid cultural identity. This is mirrored in the exploration of random, fragmentary and non-linear experiences designed for the player engaged with the artwork. The subjective intervention of the player/ participant in the electronic artwork is metaphoric of the improvisational tendencies that have evolved in the Greek Blues (Rembetika), Jazz, and Hindustani musical and performative dance forms. The protagonist Nina’s discovery of these musical forms reveal her cultural/ spiritual origins. As a musical composer arranges notes, melodies and harmonies, and sections of instruments, so too, the multimedia producer designs a ensemble of audio-visual fragments to be navigated.
Dance also becomes a driving metaphor, analogous to the players movement in and through these passages of image/ sound/ text and as a movement between theories and ideas explored in the content of the program. The central concern is to playfully reverse, obscure, distort the look of the dominating/colonialist gaze, in the production of an interactive game and allow the girl to picture herself.
One of my objectives is to explore the ways in which social research can be undertaken by the creation of an interactive program in the computer environment utilizing interactive digital media technologies. The study reveals that, through the subjective intervention of the player/ participant (user)* with the digital artefact, a unique experience and responsiveness is produced with the open-ended text. The work is comprised of a website http://www.strangecities.net; an interactive CD-ROM; a gallery installation; digital photomedia images: and a written thesis documenting and theorising the production.
* The term player/participant (user), while widely debated has been in usage from the 1980s to refer to the unique human interaction with the digital artefact, electronic screen work, and computer interface.