13th screen / Route of Progress

The 13th screen was first used as a device of Subliminal History in the New York State Route of Progress tour along the Erie Canal in 2007. Collaborating with historical and cultural centers along the way, we invited 9 – 16 individuals from town, chosen for their diverse and unique perspective. First invited to basic video training workshop and introducing them to the 13th screen. Each participant or group would have 1 night to  devise a 1 hour journey from a decided upon center of town. In “Palmyra” one man organizes a boat ride through the locks of the canal, others in this video take us to important Mormon sites and a team of two teenagers take us on the edge of the river looking for frogs. On the day of the shoot, participants meet up at the chosen location, simultaneously start their cameras and begin their uncut visual adventure, without turning the camera off – With one important rule: With the camera running through the end, every time they see something they find interesting, Cover the lens for one second and Then show it. This second of black acts as a cut to their view, or a signal call. The 13th screen recognizes this as an edit point and will cut from whatever it is showing to their video, until the next person in time Blackens their lens, as if to say “Show Me”.

On the final night in town we hold a public event. The 9 video journeys are synced up and played simultaneously into the 3×3 grid of the Surveillance Multiplexor. This grid is projected  next to it is a single channel projection, which show the selections as they are live cut by the participants hand signals. The hand acts as a cut, displaying what one person found interesting until the next time someone puts their hand over their lens to show their interest. From this a single channel video is compiled, a portrait of the town, shot by people in it and edited by them and their own indeterminate relationship to each other and the space.

Exhibition / Tour Final Events:

  • Sanctuary for Independent Media, Troy, New York, June 12, 2007
  • Erie Canal Village, Rome, New York, June 17, 2007
  • The Palmyra Inn, Palmyra, New York, June 22, 2007
  • Niagara County Historical Society, Lockport, New York, June 28, 2007
  • Lakeside Assembly Hall / Church of the Living Spirit, Lily Dale, New York, July 13, 2007
  • Schenectady Museum, Schenectady, New York, July 21
  • Eyebeam, Interference exhibition / Eyebeam 10 year retrospective, Fall 2007


When viewing this selection, watch as a video in the grid goes black and shows up on the right single screen. This choice / edit is made by the camera person while shooting, not an editor.

Palmyra, NY is where Joseph Smith the founder of The Church of Latter Day Saints (LDS / Mormon) was bestowed the golden plates. Mormonism is a modern, some may say post-modern religion, taking place before Christianity and up to Jesus Christ. Though Mormons fled Palmyra in the early days Palmyra is now a center for Mormon activity, there is a large population of transient Mormon missionaries. Palmyra is also the location where the Fox sisters, heard the rapping of a dead peddler in their wall which spawned Modern American Spiritualism. The population of Palmyra is religiously diverse it has good soil, Erie Canal History and whatever else that lies in its hills. This video shows the perspectives of 9 Palmyra residents: it includes missionaries of the Church of Latter Day Saints, a musician and his daughter, the librarian and a retired steel worker, the town historian, her sister, a lawyer, the innkeeper’s son and his friend, a college student and a hotel owner. A special thanks to Bonnie Hays, of Historic Palmyra.

Funding for ‘the 13th screen’ and the Route of Progress tour:

  • New York State Council on the Arts, Individual Artist Grant
  • Experimental Television Center, Finishing Funds as an agency of NYFA
  • The New York State Music Fund, established by the New York State Attorney General at Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisory Committee
  • The Tank, a space for performing and visual arts in New York City
  • Arts Center of the Capital Region
  • The Roland Corporation