About

BIOGRAPHY

Max Bernstein was born in Buffalo, NY where he received his BA in Media Study with a concentration in film and video production, from the University at Buffalo. Bernstein also received an MFA in film production and studio art from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He has worked as a technical artist with the Wooster Group, a video and sound designer with Michelle Ellsworth, a video and sound designer with Kaki King, a video designer with Cindy Kleine, and a video designer with Aynsley Vandenbroucke. In addition, he is one half of the piano harp duo Outlier, a founding member of media art performance group the Flinching Eye Collective, a video artist for Friends Of The Tank,  drummer and video designer for the band Eupana, composer, and sound engineer at Tribal Studio, and a lifelong multi-instrumentalist. Bernstein has taught film history and production at the University of Colorado Boulder, and video art at the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design. Most recently Bernstein has become SCUBA certified and hopes to explore bodies worldwide as a method to further inform his various practices.ARTIST STATEMENT

The ubiquitous integration of new media tools into our lives has synthesized unique hybrids of liveness and mediation. It is from within these two literal and theoretical spaces that I develop my practice and research. One such hybrid space is that of the screen. My work dissects the design of the screen in response to its ever-present yet non-transparent nature, through the reinvention of its architecture within mediated experiences. Screens (mobile, cinematic, televisual, computational, or otherwise) are broadcast spaces, which have become integrated into our culture as torrents for content, communication, and comprehension. From within these sets of transmissional spaces emerge dominant sources of representation. I aim to explore, subvert, satirize, and remix such apparatus’ for the purpose of understanding their role in shaping dominant cultural narratives.

The ontologies of screen space are typically overlooked in the presentation of media work. In Screens: Viewing Media Installation Art, Kate Mondloch articulates this neglect.

The screen... is a curiously ambivalent object- simultaneously a material entity and the virtual window; it is a generated object which, when deployed in spatialized, sculptural configurations, resists facile categorization... Screens themselves have curious status of functioning simultaneously as immaterial thresholds onto another space and time and as solid, material entities. The screen’s objecthood, however, is typically overlooked in daily life: the conventional propensity is to look through the media screens and not at them.

With this understanding, I choose to take responsibility for the objectness of the screens within my work. I have begun to anthropomorphize the screen as the literal and figurative body of images. Central to all of this is the empathy for and consciousness of the place of the body within mediated experiences. These sensibilities extend to the bodies of the viewers, the performers, and in the case of screens, the image’s body. Conventional modes of media consumption objectify viewers, users, and spectators. Screens are designed to unidirectionally transmit information, gather data, and deliver the “consumer” to commercial industries as products. Inversely, we as viewers have been trained how to consume images, by temporarily dismissing the corporeal self. In the last decade, the screen has continued to see an evolution with the introduction of virtual reality (VR) technologies. These new tools have continued the trend of disregarding the place of the body in mediated space. The use of VR helmets can be seen as a de-corpatation, an anesthetization, and a filtering of biological tools of perception. While I feel there is tremendous potential in these new technologies, I wish to integrate new perspectives into their implementation. By

deconstructing, physicalizing, and humanizing screens, I hope to create new relationships of viewing, which prioritize the experience of viewing bodies, and expand the potentials of cinematic works.

The Internet is yet another example of a profound intersection of life and mediation. The Internet has become a nature built upon intermingling cultures that are extensions and reflections of who we are and what we do. Within this nature is a coexistence of both literal and figurative representations of our analogue experiences and ontologies, all of which become distilled and presented as information. I wonder how these new tools impact our comprehension of the analog world, as the frame of the screen falsely equalizes the experience of information consumption. The experience of reading a Wikipedia article about gravitational waves feels very similar to the experience of reading a Wikipedia article about the assassination of JFK, which feels very similar to the experience of reading a Wikipedia article about scuba diving. The weight of each subject is presented with the same potency, and the architectural frame of the screen transmits the content indiscriminately. If this compressing of embodied experience is a dominant method for comprehension of our analog world, then what happens to our ability to understand, and by proxy, represent the analog world? Has the Internet’s function as colossal information provider begun to replace our desires to discover and understand the world empirically?

These questions have formed the basis for my current research and production entitled The Space Between Sea and Land. This multifaceted work utilizes dynamic video projection mapping, a 3D pop-up book style set, immersive sound design, and a precise and rigorous movement vocabulary that allows performers to enact my original text and musical score. The subject for this work is an exploration of the limits of the Internet through looking at influences of the digital age on empiricism, and by proxy, representation. Through re-enactments of global histories and mythologies surrounding the Whale, an anthropomorphized lighthouse, a glitchy Wikipedia, and a reanimated Orson Wells help to describe a series of peculiar events. The research for this work has taken me to Italy, Iceland, Japan, and both coasts of the U.S. to document locations, mythologies, and ethnographies that have a limited accessibility through digital tools. I have procured footage from these site- specific environments, digitally traced, and remodeled them in 3D. These “places/spaces” will be physically reproduced as both inflatables and foam screens using a computer controlled cutting machine. These objects compose a set of 3D projection screens, creating a series of shifting, projected environments, which move akin to a large pop-up book. Performers will navigate the shifting sets according to the movement score, dictated by pre-recorded, video performers projected onto their bodies. I am developing a dynamic tracking system, which allows me to track performers, moving in space enabling me to map video to their bodies as living screen.