The Patient Conflict
Various Media, 2014-present.
Various Media, 2014-present.
The Patient Conflict activates the 5,000-hour video archive of B’Tselem, an Israeli NGO that aims to document human rights violations in the occupied territories and create a human rights culture in Israel. Since 2007, B’Tselem has distributed cameras to Palestinians living in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip where tensions are high and clashes with security officials are commonplace.
The Patient Conflict does not focus on these overtly charged interactions, but rather on the quieter, more passive action of waiting: the moments within the archive where people are asked to wait at roadblocks, where soldiers are asked to wait at protest lines - moments where the conflict bides its time, costs time, and controls time.
This project is only just beginning; therefore the documentation below is rough and experimental. It currently contains five distinct sub-projects (and counting). These projects range in media from video installations, to interactive sculptural works and live performances. All of these works are authored as much by the B’Tselem volunteer filmmakers as by myself and my collaborators.
The Chess Clock is an interactive sculpture that adopts the familiar form of two adjacent clocks for timing chess matches. Each clock is controlled by a button that stops one clock while starting the other so that the two clocks never run simultaneously. But in this sculpture, the clock faces have been replaced with screens - one showing clips of Palestinians waiting, and the other showing clips of Israelis waiting. viewers themselves push the buttons on the clock, and by doing so they determine who to pause, who to hold up, and whose time to control.
Waiting To Be Anywhere -- a collaborative work with writer Ariel Resnikoff -- is a multimedia poetry performance in three acts. In this performance, custom software allows for an interplay between voice and video in real-time. The work begins with the voices of the poets controlling the video playback, such that the video only plays when the poets are silent; it ends with the video controlling the poets. Waiting to be Anywhere addresses the ways in which waiting intersects with hope, power, and control.
In this collaborative experiment, artist Brian House and I were interested in the literal pace of waiting: in the shuffling footsteps of Israeli soldiers who are waiting in the street for a protest to arrive. We “scored” the video, marking every moment and location in the viewing frame that a soldier’s foot hit the asphalt. We used this data to translate this score into a musical score by giving each soldier’s left and right foot its own note.
In this prototype, we opted to have the score played by a string trio (comprised of Michela, Nikolas, and Lukas Bentel). Each musician plays the footsteps occurring in one third of the screen, thereby spatializing the data. To enable true time-syncing with the video, we had the Bentels sight-read the notes from a computer program akin to Guitar Hero.
The footage within the B’Tselem Video Archive is fundamentally unstable, fast-paced, and irregular. This footage has the unsteady hand of the amateur. This footage is too zoomed, too dark, too bouncy, with audio that’s too soft or too windy. The footage, in other words, has the shakes.
The Shakes is a new investigation that asks: what would it look like to copy these shakes on purpose -- to attempt to replicate their exact camera movements, but with footage shot on the other side of the separation barrier? This work is a collaborative project with videographer Chris Parker, and employs the reverse of video-stabilization technology to map the B’Tselem camera shakes onto completely stable footage.
The Video Clocks are 3-channel installations in which each monitor represents seconds, minutes, and hours. One singular clip, drawn from a moment of waiting in the B’Tselem archive, is looped with different speeds, creating an installation that both engages with time and tells time all at once.