In 2004 I became part of the art collective Tactonic, joining Huong Ngo and Matthew Steinke. The group’s work combined recycled materials, the love of low-technology, and an interest in social interactions. Our collaboration culminated in the PORTOTONIC exhibition, a collection of portable artworks highlighting themes of travel, displacement, and nomadism that was presented at Lump gallery in Raleigh, NC.
My own piece took the work I had been doing with looped video micro-narratives, and adapted that idea to a distinctly low-tech approach. I built a Zoetrope, an early animation device, which was housed in a vintage child’s suitcase, and created a series of looping animated sequences to be played back using it. Each animation strip focused on displaced people in the midst of difficult transition – deported Jews in the Holocaust, arrested Mexican border crossers, Haitian boat people. The “peepshow curiosity” aspect of the Zoetrope contrasted with the seriousness of the subject matter, calling attention to the relationship between the detached voyeurism of the viewers and the plight of the subjects depicted.