David Rokeby describes how Seen functions


Seen was originally commissioned as Watch. The curator asked me to do Watch for the Venice Architecture Biennale, and I thought I wanted to take it further. The outside edges are basically Watch. This is a source footage, here, the Piazza San Marco in Venice. This is now extracting all the still objects and leaving just what's moving, basically people and pigeons, and then this is tracing the trajectory of each thing in the space. So, where things are darkest, that's their present and there's a fadeout in the distance, into time, so you see the trajectory and direction of movement of each thing in Piazza San Marco. These little things down here are pigeons, and this configuration up there is a big battle for corn from tourists. And then, again from this image, but by looping it on itself, we get a kind of instant multi-motion study of everything happening in Piazza San Marco, each person becomes a sort of a procession of themselves, echoing perhaps the military and religious history of the square. And then finally, we have the far, the stillness side, removing everything that's moving and showing only what's still in the image. So the first and the last are the elements of Watch, and the middle elements are further explorations of trying to visualize aspects of time in movement. I actually spent a lot of time, at a certain point, in my life, trying to imagine movement across time, and there was a brief moment, again looking out of my studio window in Spadina, when I actually saw the past and future of the cars that were going down the street in front of me, and in a way, a piece like this is trying to make that experience tangible and visible in some way.