Cleaning Up (2020) is a collaborative video filmed from a robotic vacuum. (8 minutes 24 seconds)
This digital video captures the liminal state of human and robot, and their symbiotic coexistence. Amidst the global climate challenges connected to threatening, ecological and pandemic crises, this work reflects on the growing emergence of robotics’ relationship to humankind.
Filmed during the COVID-19 stay-at-home order, the video creates an ambiguous interpretation of subject matter showing a worm’s-eye view of the inside of an apartment while cleaning up. But who/what is controlling the filming? With minimal human intervention, the subject matter turns inward from what we see to what is not being seen as the prevailing subject of the work, thus questioning the traditional notions of authorship, the modernist frame (typically highlighting stabilized imagery as content within the horizontal plane), and the depiction of motion. But these factors, in their objective character, are eclipsed by the film’s abstract subject, by that which controls the frame. A relationship is revealed with a transitivity between what is viewed, the interface creating the view, and the viewer.
An in-utero recording is gradually faded out throughout the duration of the video while the robotic vacuum’s actual mechanized sound is faded in. A self-referential rough cut is used at the end to signify the medium of the work’s ambiguity, cancel the viewer’s suspension of disbelief, and highlight a symbolic “birth” of a robotic future.