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PULSE: Gabe's clock of the heart
Video sculptor preserves time and memory with installations

Gabriel Barcia-Colombo at PULSE

PULSE Festival runs January 29–February 2 at the Jepson Center, where Barcia-Colombo's installation will be on display. He participates via Skype in a lecture 6 p.m. Jan. 29 at the Jepson Center.

Gabriel Barcia-Colombo collects people. Tiny little people in Victorian bell jars who react to you (actually light projections triggered by software) when you come up to look at them.

Holographic stockbrokers under a microscope, stuck with pins like butterflies.

Human DNA, available from a vending machine.

His Facebook friends—his actual Facebook friends—in a video wall speaking their status updates ad infinitum.

Gabriel is a memorializer, a rememberer. He's also a video sculptor/installation artist who is presenting at the PULSE Festival at the Jepson Center.

You say you're a diehard collector of things, even people in a sense. Isn't collecting just another way of controlling something?

Gabe BC: My initial instinct is to categorize and memorialize. But there's a certain amount of nostalgia. So it's not so much control as keeping alive something we may not be in contact with anymore.

You have a real old-school sensibility, a pronounced taste for Gothic and Victorian stuff.

Gabe BC: It seems like so much new media nowadays involves lasers and stuff from Tron [laughs]. Stuff projected on buildings, things like that. Sometimes I think all that's going to look very dated. I'm looking for a nice juxtaposition of new media, and things that are made out of wood, stuff like that. Technology in general people tend to view as dirty. In steampunk everything is dirty and sort of grimy. This stuff is more wholesome, you might say. I sort of stumbled randomly on the idea for the bell jars, the installation called "Animalia Chordata." I was already into filmmaking, narrative videos. They're really projections onto glass. The image is projected through two planes of glass. The characters are filmed in two states: the mothball state, before you interact with them, and after the proximity sensor detects you. The interaction goes on as long as the camera detects you're there.

What are you bringing to PULSE?

Gabe BC: The installation I'm doing in Savannah is inspired by my visit to a museum one time, where there was this roomful of clocks. I started thinking, what if you had projections of the clocks and you could wind them up? It's one projection, with nine or ten clocks, depending on how much room I have at the venue. There's a box on a pedestal, where you can wind the clocks. The more and faster you wind, the clocks go faster. There are ten different animations involved. For example, there's one where the clocks shatter at the end. There's another where they start dripping like a Dali painting. The software won't pick the same animation twice. I'm interested in the idea of people having control over art.

You also seem very interested in time.

Gabe BC: Well, time is of interest to everybody [laughs]. We tend to view life through times we've experienced or shared. I also have a real fondness for categorization, which helps. I guess you could say I'm sort of OCD in that regard. I've always been a big fan of museums. And so here we have sort of a museum exhibit of a roomful of clocks, that's actually about no time at all.