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Nina Sobell: Artist Statement

My interest lies not within creating mythological or fantasy realms; rather, I am concerned with depicting notions of truth and rendering previously unperceived invisible phenomena visible, while drawing attention to the subtle nuances of communication and perception. The physical manifestation of my work is a combination of conceptual, performance and installation art.

Art involved with the manipulation of digital technologies, and most certainly closed-circuit video, holds a certain stigma in our culture. This most likely arises from how we encounter this medium in our daily lives, in the workplace and other public places, which gives us the sense of reducing our feelings of "private" space. I work with closed-circuit video on four primary levels. I originally began to work with closed-circuit video in a more traditional sense as a documentary medium and then in a gallery space, where I use the camera to "frame" or direct the attention of the audience to subtle nuances in time, space and interaction. When I work on a personal level (where I am basically in a dialogue with myself) I am a performer, and the medium functions as a sort of aid in "mind's eye surveillance" and as a healing tool. When dealing with an audience as physical participants, I wish to help them explore and cultivate positive and creative dynamics. In these projects I see myself as a facilitator or vehicle. Although I use closed-circuit video and computer technologies as my primary medium, I am not concerned with their function beyond their ability to aid me in realizing my vision.

I am often perceived as having as much in common with the traditional perceptions of scientists as artists. I believe that what links the scientist to the artist is the search for truth, and where we differ is in why we seek information and experience. I am in the question-asking game, not the question-answering job. Forming this approach aids me in deepening my understanding of myself and my environment. For thirty years I have been using closed-circuit video to ask questions about exploring perceptions of the self, interaction with the other, and how technology can be used to augment, record and reveal these processes. With the completion of each project, I find myself asking more questions. What is seeing? What is perceiving? Where do I begin and you end? What is between us? How can we deal with this space? I am watching you! Can you see me? I am reaching out for you-will you respond to me? You are reaching out for me-will I answer you? Who is the audience for art? Is this a stage? Are we actors? What happens when "intimate space" becomes public space? Can public space become intimate? Is technology bringing us closer or further apart? Can the machine become an extension of me? Can we still be together in different locations? Will the Internet let us transcend time and space? What would it look like if we were thinking together?

I am interested in exploring notions of transformation, energy transfer, bridging the conscious and unconscious realms, and rendering the invisible visible through action and reaction. The results manifest themselves either as an action or object, and continue to live through extensive documentation. I see my life's work as a series of explorations, where the data gathered is the fertilizer for a new crop of ingredients to develop, contemplate and play with. I play with the notion of playing. I see the processes of creation as an integral part of the work, as important as the result.

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