David Hartwell and Sarah Lorenzen of Plasmatic Concepts were commissioned in 2010 by the Palm Springs Art Museum to produce a video in support of the museum’s exhibit about local architect Donald Wexler. Curated by Sarah’s fellow Cal Poly Pomona professor Lauren Bricker, “Steel and Shade” opened on January 28, 2011, just ahead of Modernism Week, Palm Springs’s annual celebration of all things midcentury modern.
A 30 ft wall and an inversely proportional budget was the challenge. The museum wasn’t interested in yet another documentary. We weren’t either. We decided to approach the worlds of both Palm Springs and Wexler as complete outsiders, which we are. Conveying the feeling of life in Palm Springs rather than its meaning is what we were interested in. Plus, why try to echo the didacticism the main attraction does so well?
30ft is a lot of real estate, especially on a budget. We decided the best would be to split the show into three synchronized HD projections, a simple mosaic of sorts. We picked three houses and off we were with our HDSLR and PVC pipes, the poor man’s dolly rails. After five days of shooting in 115ºF heat, we began to get a glimpse of what life in Palm Springs is all about. So did our camera which threatened to shut down on numerous occasions due to the excessive heat. We named our piece “Somewhere There Hides a Well” after Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s “The Little Prince.” Even the harshest environment can be beautiful. If one takes the time to contemplate.
The piece runs on a computer. The movie is 3840 pixels wide! It spans 27ft, which this web preview doesn’t do justice. The signal is fed to a Matrox splitter which in turn feeds three HD projectors. It took us two months to edit the 300 odd takes we had, and… one day to install. The show ran through May 5, 2011.
Photography and editing: David Hartwell and Sarah Lorenzen
Music: Adrianna Krikl