Ken Fine Fish Video Reframing

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e_u-kSvcojQ&list=UU_SqNu5xu_KsjBkOI2mrnPg A few weeks ago I stumbled across the work of “ken fine,” a mysterious YouTube profile that routinely uploads untitled batches of videos nearly 4 or 5 times a week. Each video is roughly 30 seconds long and consists…

Ken Fine Fish Video Reframing

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e_u-kSvcojQ&list=UU_SqNu5xu_KsjBkOI2mrnPg

A few weeks ago I stumbled across the work of “ken fine,” a mysterious YouTube profile that routinely uploads untitled batches of videos nearly 4 or 5 times a week. Each video is roughly 30 seconds long and consists of a different domesticated fish swimming around a small white dish. Invariably, at some point in the video, a large hand— presumably belonging to Ken Fine— disrupts their path to briefly expose their underside, before placing them back into the water to resume their orbit. Entirely wordless and soundtracked only by whatever unseen ambient noise surrounds the dish (sometimes the gentle hum of an air conditioner, sometimes children playing and wind rustling, perhaps indicating the videos were taken in a backyard?), these videos take on an abstract, almost ethereal quality when watched sequentially. Allowing YouTube to format them in a playlist— as is its default setting— creates a seemingly endless stream of fish that squirm and circle around an empty white void. Occasionally, their shadows will be apparent, though generally there is no identifiable source of light, placing the fish in a non-space devoid of characteristics. The organic shapes are isolated, framed against YouTube’s (white) frame, placed in YouTube’s interface, and set to writhe infinitely.
I’m obsessed with these videos. First of all, what are they? The informal archives of some amateur marine biologist? Black market goldfish trafficking? Camera tests?
Beyond their enigma, the videos themselves are really hypnotic, especially presented the way they are. There’s a real poetry to them: a swirl of color that darts around, confined in undefined white space and entirely at the mercy of an enormous and anonymous hand. The purely formal qualities of these videos were something I wanted to foreground, and this project evolved out of an attempt to deconstruct and explore the presentation of these images as best as I could. As an artist it’s my job to preserve the integrity of the source material while facilitating the enjoyment of it. For me, that means making visible each moment that lead to one’s experience of this rich online treasure.
Plexiglass is strategically sprayed to allow the content of the videos to project through the screen and onto the wall behind it, effectively allowing the video to transcend its frame without denying its existence. I built a patch in Max/MSP that uses real-time video processing to remove the alpha channel (the white) from a playlist of what I believe to be ken fine’s most beautiful videos. This places the fish themselves in the room, away from the white prison as depicted in the videos. To me, this represents a successful mediation between the viewer and the ultimate subjects— the fish.
The rest of the projection catches on the painted plexiglass, framing the ken fine videos within the numerous interfaces: YouTube’s digital interface, Google Chrome’s browser window, my Macbook’s desktop. This projection itself is in turn framed by a complete rectangle of square steel tubing, built large enough for viewers to walk through. The projector is at roughly the height of most standing desks. My personal laptop is open and visible.

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