Mitosis: Formation of Daughter Cells

by on June 4, 2014

In 2003/2004, A. M. Hoch was commissioned by the Beall Center for Art and Technology in Irvine, California, to create an interdisciplinary installation to launch their 2004 season, resulting in the production of an interactive family portrait entitled Mitosis: Formation of Daughter Cellsan unsettling portrayal of the multitude of perspectives, often conflicting, of one family’s history. The script for the piece was adapted by Hoch from a transcript of a family therapy session documented in R. D. Laing’s seminal Sanity, Madness and the Family, interwoven with excerpts from thirteenth-century Sufi poet Rumi (translated by Coleman Barks) and passages on cellular mitosis from a biology textbook. The complex digital architecture required to realize Mitosis: Formation of Daughter Cells was provided by dotsperinch’s Mark Shepard, Carlos Tejada, and Fiona Cate Murphy. The voice-over featured Wallace Shawn, Deborah Eisenberg, and Andrea Schell; also with Wendy Walker and Amo Gulinello; video performances by Brigid McInnes Connelly and Francine Dreyfus.

Mirroring the way memories lodge in our bodies, our cells and our psyches, the audio and video components of this installation are embedded within the structure and objects of a surreal domestic interior. Three drawerseach representing a member of the familyare embedded in the walls and are programmed to speak in a specific order. The drawers open and close automatically and continuously. Motion sensors, placed discretely in different places throughout the space, trigger three different versions of the same conversation. So, depending on the viewer’s presence in the room, the tone and emotional quality of the discussion changes. The viewer’s unwitting interaction with the family’s dynamicand the viewer’s doubts and questions about what they are hearingphysicalize the ambiguity of human memory.


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