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Lissette Schaeffler, Bill Cruz

The First To Leave, 16 channel video and soundscape installation;  loops ranging from 3 min., 58 sec, to 14 min., 47 sec.

As technology becomes the dominant force in our society, most of us have become disconnected from the natural world. Our perspectives have shifted to recognize man-made landscapes, while becoming more ambivalent, passive, and lost in natural environments. Still, there are underlying connections between all of us—and nature—that quietly evoke an inherent sense of togetherness. And in many ways, where we are makes us more acutely aware of who we are.

During a period that brought an unprecedented sense of isolation, my partner and I were awarded a project residency at the Deering Estate. A 450-acre natural, archeological and historical preserve located along the edge of Biscayne Bay in Miami, Florida. The time spent on our work at the Deering Estate provided rare moments of tranquility and normalcy. Even as the “civilized” world was upended, the natural world just seemed to go on as it always has. It was the only place where we felt that nothing had changed. Our need for a connection with nature became more apparent, as did the realization that it had been sorely missing in our everyday lives. 

The First to Leave is part of a larger multimedia collaborative project. This installation is comprised of 16 CRT TVs, each playing independent video and audio loops of various lengths. The audio segments are randomly seeded and processed from environmental source recordings, and continuously generate new tonal and textural patterns. The concept explores the ideas of disconnection and departure. When technology becomes pervasive, it also becomes an obstruction. Its abstractions of reality place a filter between us and the real world—in effect creating an artificial version of reality that becomes dominant. Eventually and inevitably, all our technology becomes obsolete—quickly replaced by the next iteration. And as nature watches over our departure, it also waits for us.

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