Grasping Elapsing

  • Peter Williams
Keywords: performance, hybrid media, participatory, archive, sustained present, language, embodiment, memory, scanning, generative, Twitter, input, output, geologic time, timescales


An iterative series of hybrid media installations and generative, participatory performance projects, Grasping Elapsing (2003-present) attempts to show embodied thought process by creating open-ended connections among object, image, archive, digital process and word. The project is comprised of a combination of installations, performances, images created by the artist over time, images created by participants in prior and current performances/installations, live-sourced, appropriated images accessed through software, generative software that processes combinations of the above-described images, and a Twitter feed/archive.  Given the highly-temporal nature of the project, it is difficult to analyze specific juxtapositions that might arise. This report will therefore mainly address the projects’ ongoing conceptual framework while referencing specific moments in time where it might be helpful for contemporary readers. The current iteration, Grasping Elapsing 3.1 is a digitally-augmented participatory performance with a “live” component of approximately twenty minutes and an indefinitely-extended digital component which is conducted online. The piece expresses a convergence of history, place and present moment through the use of digital practices and face-to-face discussion. It is conducted with an audience that, after an approximately eight-minute introduction, is invited to participate by contributing images through the use of scanning. The entire piece is enacted at a table with a large projection behind it. The artist sits at the table facing audience-participants. Throughout the performance, the artist delivers spoken-word content and participatory instructions. On the table are a laptop computer which the artist uses to improvisationally control a custom-made software application designed specifically for the performance. The application displays artist-produced, appropriated and past-and-current participant-contributed imagery, and also imagery generatively processed from combinations of all of the above-mentioned source materials. The output of this application is shown on the projection screen. Also on the table is a flatbed scanner which participants use to digitize images for contribution to the piece; scanned images are automatically added to a databank from which the application draws in real time.

How to Cite
Williams, P. (2018). Grasping Elapsing. Airea: Arts and Interdisciplinary Research, (1), 28-34.