Project Seeks To Capture A Minute Of Life Everywhere

Take Part

Robert Siegel talks to artist Erin Cooney about the "Simultania Project." She pictures the video-art project like a giant science experiment — getting people across the globe to record video and sound at exactly the same moment on Saturday. Afterward, Cooney will display hundreds of the images together.

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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

An artist in Los Angeles named Erin Cooney wants to capture one minute in the life of the entire planet. The Simultania Project is what she calls a giant science experiment. She's asking people everywhere to pull out their video cameras tomorrow at precisely the same time.

As she told my co-host Robert Siegel, a couple of hundred volunteers around the world have signed up to shoot at 11 a.m. Eastern time tomorrow.

Ms. ERIN COONEY (Artist): The result is a massive video installation that will play back these simultaneous realities in sync with one another, and the viewer will be able to experience simultaneous realities unfolding all around them in the gallery space.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

And what inspired you to do this?

Ms. COONEY: What inspired me is new technologies. I was using Skype about two years ago, and I was in Los Angeles, speaking to someone in Paris. And at one point during the Skype conversation, my friend pointed the webcam out of the window to give me a view of the street below. And what I saw astounded me, not because of the subject matter - it's just people walking down the street - but because I was seeing people walking down the street on the other side of the world in real time. And it triggered a very visceral realization that told me, okay, it's not just here. It's everywhere in this world that's existing right now is existing in this way. And the installation is meant to communicate that to the viewer that this is the way the world is happening, that we're living our experiences of reality in parallel with one another.

SIEGEL: To really represent the breadth of what people will be recording suggests a huge space, a huge installation that would result from this. Do you have a space set aside and does it - is it big enough to show this much video all at once?

Ms. COONEY: I have a couple of spaces, actually. This is going to be exhibited with the Streaming Museum in New York. They have screens in public places, like in plazas, around the world. It's also going to show in a very large space in Los Angeles. And it's going to show online, so that everyone will be able to see the installation.

SIEGEL: And would it last just one minute?

Ms. COONEY: No, it won't. It's going to loop on itself, and each loop is going to be different. The first loop, I'm thinking that I want to make it just, you know, raw footage. This is what was happening without editing, just show this is what was happening and then go on from there and make it more dynamic, the scale, the sound, with all sorts.

SIEGEL: Why that particular minute? What's so important about that time that you've picked?

Ms. COONEY: I'm sorry to say there's nothing really important about that particular minute, but that kind of goes in line with the rest of the project. It's not about the content. It's just about a time to signify all times. This is the way the world is happening at all times.

SIEGEL: And what are you going to be doing during that minute?

Ms. COONEY: That is a good question. You know what I'm going to be doing probably is on my computer until right up to the one-minute moment because with social media - I'm on Facebook and Twitter talking with my participants and people have questions and I'll probably be doing that down to the last moment. I'd like to go to the beach and film at the beach here in Los Angeles, but we'll see how it goes.

SIEGEL: Erin Cooney, thank you very much for talking with us.

Ms. COONEY: Thank you so much.

BLOCK: Erin Cooney speaking with Robert Siegel about the Simultania Project. The project encourages participants to shoot one-minute videos tomorrow at the same time. Cooney promises to create an audio version of her project for us to hear late next week. Her website is where you sign up. It's simultaniaproject.com.

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