Saturday, March 8, 2014

Programming Identity: Momentum Artist Amy Sanders

This post is part of our series on Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition's Momentum OKC 2014. Momentum exhibits Oklahoma artists ages 30 and younger in a venue created specifically for them, helping them gain experience and meet new audiences. Today we are featuring Momentum artist Amy Sanders from Norman, OK.

Laura Reese: What is your concept and inspiration for this piece in Momentum?
Amy Sanders: Ghost is based on an exploration of identity and place--of self-awareness and of perception of the self in particular places.  It was inspired by my return from a trip to my room, and the feelings that came with that moment.  When walking back into my room, I had felt that I was entering a dead person's room, that the person that once lived there was no longer around.  I felt like a ghost in my previous life, and I could no longer understand why I lived my life the way I had before.  Looking at the things in my room, it was clear to me that everything was placed or arranged in a particular way for a specific reason--but I could not remember those reasons.  When I think back on this experience, I picture a ghost form of myself meeting a dead, physical form of myself after spending some time apart.  Both know they should recognize the other, but there is a sense of unfamiliarity that ultimately overwhelms the two.  Eventually, the ghost--the newer form, the side of me that changed over spring break--takes over, making changes in the room and erasing any mark the “corpse” had left before.  
still from Ghost by Amy Sanders

The code breaks up the aforementioned experience into three parts--return, interaction, and takeover.  The code consists of various elements overlapping or taking place at once, to symbolize the tension between the ghost’s and the corpse’s feelings and thought processes, especially since they are, in a sense, the same person.   In the sequences produced by the code, a “dead” figure is displayed in the background.  In one corner, one word at a time displays on a loop describing the emotions and thoughts of the “corpse” as it sees the ghost enter the room.  A single, glowing white orb grows in another corner, multiplies, and moves across the entire screen, which represents the ghost’s presence taking over.  A clock is also shown, indicating that the process continues to take place over time.  A viewer may take part in the interaction, moving the mouse and clicking to distort the dialogue between the two sides.  This interactivity allows someone to become a part of the already tense and cluttered conversation by visually translating that chaos with their mouse movements.

LR: Please explain the technique and/or process you used to create this work.
AS: I created the piece using Processing, a computer programming language and application.  When I began conceptualizing the art piece, code immediately jumped out as the best way to translate my idea and aesthetics into a visual piece.  I had done video, 2D and 3D works, but code was fairly new to me.  I desired a piece with compelling and transient aesthetics, as well as the logic of coding and unpredictability of interactivity, all of which I found appealing for this specific concept.  While the piece is not part of a series, it incorporates identity and place, themes I explore in much of my art practice, as well as light, an important element in my artwork.  

My works are all viewable online at

Momentum OKC opens March 7 & 8 with live music, performance, and visual art by 101 young Oklahomans. The exhibition remains on display until March 10 at the Farmer's Public Market OKC, 311 S Klein. Learn more or buy tickets at

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