Mantra is a generative video work that evokes themes of nostalgia, memory and ephemerality. The project draws on an archive of 5000 short TV commercial video clips from the 1980s, compiled by the artist from various internet sources using custom software. Upon visiting the website, a random clip is selected and presented to the viewer on a loop. The work plays on the phenomenon of semantic satiation, where the repetition of a phrase eventually causes temporary loss of meaning for the viewer, as the words blur into sounds and the speech becomes increasingly abstract. To further emphasize this feeling, the work uses glitch techniques to randomly introduce stutters and destructive shuffling of the source material after every repetition. This allows for a serendipitous emphasis on certain snippets of sound or visual details that may otherwise be overlooked after a single viewing. These details quickly become the focal point of the experience after committing a few minutes of viewing time to the iterative deterioration process.
Through this work, I am exploring how generative strategies can allow digital experiences to be made unique and spontaneous, existing solely in the moment. This is in stark contrast with other trends in our digital lives such as omnipresent data tracking, or digital token ownership on blockchains. The experience provided by Mantra is fleeting, intentionally random and impossible to repeat exactly. Successive viewings present a new 15 second video clip each time, pulled from over 20 hours of raw footage. That clip is then transformed by the software in unpredictable ways. The resulting artifact can therefore only be experienced at the time of viewing, never to be repeated again.