Stacey Stormes is an interdisciplinary artist and art educator. Creating visual metaphor in a variety of mediums, she enjoys work that simultaneously seduces and repels. Her work explores body, consciousness, and connection to environment. She holds a BFA from the University of South Florida and a MFA from Columbia College Chicago. Currently she is an adjunct professor at multiple schools around the Tampa Bay Area, teaching courses in New Media, Film and Video, Photography, and Digital Foundations. Her current research obsessions are arts of resistance and the mediated body (works that fuse body and new media arts).
I’m captivated by solid visual metaphor, drawn to those images that waver between pulling the viewer close and pushing them away, entranced by what happens to a performance grounded in the body once translated to the virtual, beguiled by precise mistakes. These are the contradictions that frame my work. In my early videos, I played with ways to muck up the footage: exporting at low frame rates and splicing back into higher quality footage, dropping frames, scan rescan techniques time displacement... Inspired by Jonas and Paik, I was interested in taking pristine footage, really trashing in precisely controlled ways, exploring how mediation through video and web translate presence, struggling with embodiment in the digital trace, finding intersections between performance to the camera and performance in the edit. As a natural progression, my current work delves into glitch processes.
Recalling Vertical Roll and Man with a Movie Camera, my recent Performance with Cameras turns camera lenses on each. A revisitation of my earlier work, Mediated Confines, I perform for the camera and perhaps random passersby outside. Reflecting what I see outside through my movement, the performance is presented mostly as a reflection as well, captured on the surface of the camera lens, which is then recorded by a facing camera. The footage gets analogue layered and distorted through a wobulator, then layered further through frame buffering. This feedback loop explores relationships of media, (female) body, environment, and process.
In Chou Chou I explore intersections between motherhood and working artist. A French term of endearment that translates to “cabbage cabbage,” “chou chou,” also sounds pleasingly similar to soothing shooshes. Cabbage leaves are an anti-lactant, a home remedy for swelling and pain of achy lactating breasts, one I have employed on numerous occasions to allay the physical pain of separation known by breastfeeding mothers who must travel without their child. These multiple contexts for cabbage intersect to create an apt metaphor for the sometimes-challenging balance of caring for both child and self. I appear with a constructed head of cabbage as my own, slowly rocking an absent baby, poorly singing softly a half remembered lullaby in a round mirrored by a heavy build of layers of video.
This obfuscation of the head is something that repeats in my work, a motif reminiscent of Magritte’s The Lovers and the Surrealist’s exploration of the subconscious. For me, it’s psyche overwhelming physical, embodiment of desires and anxieties.
In Plastic Ok? I adopt the plastic bag as a metaphor for consumption’s effects on the environment. A direct response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and it’s lasting impact, the video documents my struggle to breath and escape from a barrage of at least 100 plastic bags covering my head. The viewers are denied total release as the video employs jump-cuts and variations of loop: a repeating sort of da capo al coda. It’s an endurance test of the viewer similar to that of my own in performance. The work is open-ended in hopes to outlast the viewer by employing a disguised loop-point and continuous loop.
Often I edit frame-by-frame painstakingly advancing with the keyboard arrows to root out any errant less than perfect frame thereby creating imperfections: heavily employing jump-cuts and frame displacement. The performance for the camera is only the raw material for the final product, little different than inks in the serigraph process. The editing process extends the performance as I create Fluxus-like structures and formal frameworks for the edit that I perform as process scores. These oddly satisfying elements of play (like inserting quick edits solely in increments of prime numbers) are integral to the editing process and final result even if imperceptible.
While making work I’m always thinking of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s assertion, “God is in the details.” To me this is not only a reminder that nothing that does not belong goes in the frame and everything in the frame has meaning. It also means even the smallest decision from initial spark through exhibition has value, and that every step of process and layer of concept shapes form.