Shanidar, Safe Return

Extended until July 14 ! at Participant After Dark << Click on the link to enter the work

Drawing of skull of Neanderthal

A long-long time ago, if I can still remember…

Shanidar, Safe Return my interactive story, now being hosted by Participant After Dark, the ONLINE venue for Participant Inc. Gallery, NY, has been extended until July 14, 2024. Shanidar is curated by Itziar Barrios.

Timeline: 40,000 years BCE. In Shanidar, Safe Return, a band of Neanderthals and their Cro-Magnon companions ncluding Haizea, Esti, Oihana, Eneko and Uda, make an epic journey from what is now southern France to a place called Shanidar, a large cave in Iraqi Kurdistan, situated along tributaries of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. Along the way they learn that humanity is blessed by its heritage of mixing and sharing everything, including genes. As in all things evolutionary – including food, shelter, community and love – it’s a matter of survival. Their shaman’s lion guide keeps them on the right path.

While writing Shanidar, I did extensive research into Paleolithic Eurasia, the human species that lived there, their probable habits, foods and methods of travel, as well as their music and art. Many of the graphics are my versions of specific Paleolithic artworks, some of which I have seen in person, but many of which I have copied from the drawings by André Leroi-Gourhan’s in his 1993 book Gesture and Speech. I used other sources as well including photos and drawings in works by Jean Clottes, Marjia Gimbutas, and Max Rafael. I composed the music and recorded effects for the soundtrack and borrowed, with credits, sound effects and music from other sources.  Shanidar is a work of speculative fiction backed up by a lot of research into the deep past. Who were we?

animated gif of a hand-drawn campfire

What is Interactive Fiction, and How Can You Experience Shanidar?

Shanidar is entirely online, a work of cyber-art, interactive fiction, a computer-based experience. It’s similar to playing a game, where you go to the link provided, https://participantafterdark.art/, view the video intro, and enter the story by clicking on the PLAY button.

Writers create all kinds of interactive stories – it’s a very active culture/sub-culture – using a variety of software platforms as a base, then adding text, images, videos, and a sound track to bring the reader/player closer to the action, or possibly even inside the action.

From Wikipedia:

Interactive fiction, often abbreviated IF, is software simulating environments in which players use text commands to control characters and influence the environment. Works in this form can be understood as literary narratives, either in the form of Interactive narratives or Interactive narrations.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interactive_fiction

So, Shanidar, Safe Return is a web-based, interactive story. Have fun with it!


Cecilia Dougherty, Shanidar, Safe Return


April 14 – May 26, 2024
on participantafterdark.art


PARTICIPANT INC is pleased to present the AFTER DARK launch of Cecilia Dougherty, Shanidar, Safe Return, an interactive web-based work of speculative fiction on participantafterdark.art.
 
Timeline: 40,000 years BCE. In Shanidar, Safe Return, a band of Neanderthals and their Cro-Magnon companions, Haizea, Esti, Oihana, Eneko and Uda, make an epic journey from what is now southern France to a place called Shanidar, a large cave in Iraqi Kurdistan, situated along tributaries of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. Along the way they learn that humanity is blessed by its heritage of mixing and sharing everything, including genes. Like everything – like food, shelter, and love – it’s a matter of survival. Their lion guide keeps them on the right path.
 
While writing Shanidar, Cecilia Dougherty did extensive research into Paleolithic Eurasia, the human species that lived there, their probable habits, foods, and methods of travel, as well as their music and art. Many of the graphics are Dougherty’s versions of specific Paleolithic artworks, some of which the artist has seen in person, but many of which were based on the drawings of André Leroi-Gourhan’s book Gesture and Speech, and other sources including photos and drawings in works by Jean Clottes, Marjia Gimbutas, and Max Rafael. Dougherty composed the music and recorded effects for the soundtrack, as well as borrowing, with credits, sound effects and music from other sources. 
 
There are 138 passages to this story – you can follow it linearly, but the best way to read it is to wander through it, criss-crossing backwards and forwards until you’ve read the whole story.
 
Shanidar, Safe Return is speculative fiction. The artist has taken many liberties with the science in imagining the temperaments, relationships, joys, sorrows, fears, spirituality, and essential humanity of people living in the deep past.

Curated by Itziar Barrio

A white outline of a hand with white shading around it is centered in the foreground of a distant, black starry sky. Drawing by Cecilia Dougherty for Shanidar, Safe Return, based on 40,000 year old hand stencil at the El Castillo cave complex in Puente Viesgo, Spain.
Drawing by Cecilia Dougherty for Shanidar, Safe Return, based on 40,000 year old hand stencil at the El Castillo cave complex in Puente Viesgo, Spain.


Full announcement here

Thread Waxing Space presents Cecilia Dougherty

Nov 13, 1998. There was a 3-day event at Thread Waxing Space to screen my video works to date. The event was packed, sold out, standing room only for all three screenings.

A found ticket to a 1998 screening of work by Cecilia Dougherty at Thread Waxing Space, a gallery on lower Broadway in New York run by Lia Gangitano. The precursor to Participant, Inc., Lia's current gallery.

Thread Waxing Space was a non-profit (not-for-profit?) gallery in lower Manhattan that operated from 1994 to 2001.

I remember seeing a great show there once about architecture, including the work of the Archigram collective. The gallery had given a lot of space to architectural models of fantasy scenarios in that show – whole communities living in the air, buildings like bubbles, transport like effortless movement in space. This was a great gallery with smart shows.

I wore my new Adidas cropped blue jacket to one of my screenings. The jacket is the only one of its kind that I have ever seen, and was made in Paris. I wore jeans, boots and a studded belt with it. I still have the jacket.


Cyland Media Art Laboratory Picks up my Cyber Art for Distribution and Archiving

Drawing from interactive fiction by Cecilia Dougherty based on drawing of a mammoth from El Castillo paleolithic site in Spain.

Three web-based pieces: Time Before Memory (Interactive Fiction 2019), Drift (interactive photo essay, 2020), and my newest piece, Shanidar, Safe Return (Interactive Fiction, 2023). These works are viewable on my website and are now a part of an international collection of web-based works.

From their website: https://videoarchive.cyland.org/

CYLAND VIDEO ARCHIVE
International Digital Online Archive

The CYLAND Video Archive (since 2008) is one of the first systematized online video art platform of its kind: most of the works gathered here are accessible for view on the internet at the archive website. 

The idea to make video art works and films open for the public viewing online comes from the beginning. It was a very progressive thing to demonstrate and promote video art online and to have this exchange between classic and young artists and to make an international networking platform. CYLAND Video Archive is a great information and educational resource. Each year the Cyland Video Archive produces an international competition video art program for the CYFEST media art festival.

One of the tasks of the archive is to build an open and accessible collection, to protect works of art from being locked in private collections, and to prevent their technical basis from becoming outdated. The archive is structured in two parts: videos on the website with open access (artists personal pages), and the offline collection for professionals accessible at the archive office. Currently, the collection comprises over 600 videos from different countries. The collection includes video art, experimental films, computer graphics, 3D animation, stop-motion animation, poetic video, video documentation of art and education projects on cutting-edge technologies. 

Tubular Times at Real Art Ways, Hartford, CT

Show runs Oct. 21, 2023 – Jan. 14, 2024
56 Arbor St, Hartford, CT 06106

The opening was on Saturday, Oct 21, and it was GOOD.

Cecilia Dougherty at Real Artways in Hartford, CT, looking at the installation of her 1986 video titled "Sick"
Cecilia watching her own 1986 video, SICK, at Real Artways, Hartford CT

Curated by Terri c. Smith, a Bard Curitorial Program grad and someone who has done her research. I went with my friend Pat from New Haven and I had no expectations for this show – it could be great or it could be not so great. And it was very good (i.e., great) and completely engaging. Work by people I know, people I don’t know but admire, and people I once knew: Peggy Ahwesh, Max Almy, Ericka Beckman, Gretchen Bender, Dara Birnbaum, Cecelia Condit, Cecilia Dougherty, Ulysses Jenkins, Nam June Paik, Ann Magnuson, Piplotti Rist, and Michael Smith. Newcomers Am Schmidt and Willie Stewart as well.

Pat and I stayed ’til closing time. She took my picture – you can get a glimpse of how each artist’s work is installed – clean and neat, plenty of room to watch, and Paik’s work was set up with a comfy padded bench for viewing.

The show is up through the year, closing on Jan. 14, with a curator walk-through and reception on Dec. 9 from 3-5 PM.


Shanidar, Safe Return

Find Shanidar here: https://shanidar.ceciliadougherty.com/

What is Interactive Fiction? It’s a way to tell a story by having the reader, or visitor to the story site, “play” the story by making choices about what part of the story to go to next – the reader can navigate forwards and backwards throughout the story. There is no directly linear way to experience Interactive Fiction, and much of it has not only text – the story – but also graphics, animation, and sound. It provides a rich, inviting and immersive pathway into narratives.

Trailer for Shanidar, Safe Return, launched Oct. 23, 2023

Shanidar, Safe Return is an interactive story that places a young Neanderthal woman named Haizea in the center of a community’s struggle for survival, as the Cro-Magnins (Homo sapiens) migrate to their once-peaceful territories. Haizea and her band of mixed – Neanderthal and Cro-Magnin – travelers must walk the distance from danger in what is now southern France to safety in their old refuge in Iraqi Kurdistan, a place called Shanidar. They meet a group of Denisovans on the way, and receive guidance from the old H. heidelbergensis shaman, Bihotz.

Created in Twine.

Tubular Times: Camp, Horror, and Music Television: Video Art 1981-1993

Video art exhibition this Fall at Real Art Ways

Oct 21, 2023 – Jan 14, 2024
Real Art Ways
56 Arbor St, Hartford, CT 06106-1222
+1 860 232 1006

Opening Oct 21, 4-7PM
Curator’s discussion of the work Dec 9, 4PM

statement by curator Terri C. Smith

Tubular Times is a group exhibition that features significant video art made from 1981-1993. The show also includes thematically related satellite installations with newer works by contemporary artists Am Schmidt and Willie Stewart. The historic component will be on view in the main gallery and black box room and will feature approximately twelve artists, including Peggy Ahwesh, Max Almy, Ericka Beckman, Gretchen Bender, Dara Birnbaum, Cecelia Condit, Cecilia Dougherty, Ulysses Jenkins, Nam June Paik, Ann Magnuson, Pipilotti Rist, and Michael Smith.

Terri C. Smith is showing my little-known 1986 video, SICK, a visual monologue about being disabled and closeted about my disability. But it’s not all doom and gloom – it’s an experimental piece created at the San Francisco Art Insitute, in Studio 9, which was equipped with a gigantic Grass Valley Switcher and Downstream Keyer. All our effects and colors were created in the live mix. Very analog, and lots ‘n lots of fun!

The exhibition is inspired by Vestron video, which was a production company and VHS distributor located in Stamford, Connecticut in the eighties and early nineties. Sharing qualities with Vestron’s catalog of B-horror, music video, and campy humor, many of the works in Tubular Times layer comedy, horror, and music to address 1980s political themes in the U.S., including the AIDS crisis, a growing wealth gap, and Reagan-era backlash to the civil liberties of the 1960s and 1970s. The show’s title references: cathode-ray tube (CRT) televisions used in the 1980s; that decade’s saying “totally tubular”; and phonetically suggests the word turbulent.

1981 was the first year of MTV and the first year of the AIDS epidemic, setting much of the tone for a decade. It’s not surprising, then, that the video art of the 1980s exhibited a unique mix of urgency, desperation, camp, and techno celebration. In the video art of that era, gender identity, a sense of life-and-death urgency, theatricality, satire, and experimental digital techniques coalesced. During this time, we see irreverent divergences from the conceptual video art of the 1970s which, while often addressing sociopolitical themes, was rarely directly influenced by television and movies. With cable television growing in the mid-1970s and being in sixty-percent of American houses by 1992 and with VHS bringing movies into the home, the topographies of entertainment shifted dramatically during this time. Video editing also became more sophisticated, allowing artists to appropriate imagery from pop culture.

Vestron’s catalog was a mix of comedy, satirical spoofs, and thriller/horror genres. The company also was involved in music videos and released Making of Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Vestron is best known for the film Dirty Dancing, but other movies they released include: quirky comedies like Earth Girls are Easy and The Princess Bride; horror movies such as Slaughter High and Horror Hill; and comedy-horror films such as Sundown: the Vampire Retreat and Lair of the White Worm. For some of the artists in Tubular Times, horrora genre inextricably linked to VHSbecomes an allegory for the othering of the LGBTQ+ community as well as the systemic failure and loss of life during the AIDS crisis, which was further exacerbated by Reagan-era policies that centered cisgender, heteronormative, white, capitalist ideals. The resulting ethos of these videos is to varying degrees harrowing and hysterically funny.

It is fitting to locate Totally Tubular—an exhibition inspired by this piece of Connecticut film history—at Real Art Ways, a contemporary art space that has a long, rich history of supporting independent cinema through its film programming.

Above the fold in Sweden

Swedish news reporter Karin Eriksson stopped me (Cecilia Dougherty), Phyllis Baldino and Laura Parnes on the street in Lower Manhattan on the night of Trump’s first indictment on rape charges. She was asking New Yorkers their opinions on the indictment. As it turns out, all of us were elated and we expressed that to Karin, who turned it into a story for the Swedish paper Dagens Nyheter, on the first page of the Världen (“World” news) section.

Swedish Newspaper Dagens Nyheter headline about Trump indictment

Karin’s article featured the photo, above, of me, Phyllis and Laura – three video artists having a night on the town – as we respond with joy to the question of what we might think of Trumps’ legal problems and having finally been brought to court. Here’s a link to the article:

https://www.dn.se/varlden/new-york-bor-hyllade-atalet-i-natt-underbart/

Trump lost that case, but now he’s under a new indictment under the Espionage Act. Finally.

And here’s Karin Eriksson, who kindly showed us her credentials: