United & Severed

  • Project Description
  • Presentations
  • Artists' Bios
  • Participant Bios
  • Link to Paper
  • Documentation of Installation

Keywords: Disability, intersubjectivity, media, audio, phenomenology, mobility, video; body

United & Severed: That Window of Time is an installation based on the experiences of women living with traumatic injuries. Through interviews and artistic exchange, the women reveal personal perceptions of their bodily experiences within the world. Using video, audio, performance, sculpture and writing, the work attempts to translate kinesthetic and sensorial experiences in an installation space designed so that public can experience their own mobility within the context of subject positions other than their own.

Feminist art historian and theorist Amelia Jones coined the term "technophenomonology" to press ways that performing subjects are politicized and socialized in their embodied relationship through technology to self/other and self/world (self-awareness and world awareness).  Enacting technophenomenology, our installation becomes an interface for intersubjective understanding and invokes a sensate response in the public.  The creative process entwines women’s personal experiences with the video, audio, and sculptural elements. 

The sculptural aspect of the installation is comprised of a tree that was burnt in the San Diego wildfires (2007). Through a staged and recorded performance, the tree was cut down as if surgically removed limb by limb, and then reassembled in the installation. The tree fragments are placed on light tables to suggest medical examination, ready for re-incorporation. Other objects include light table that house lcd monitors of looped videos displaying repetitive mending actions and internal body parts.

A looped video of the women’s voices, choreographed movement and texts is projected in the installation space, along with videos embedded under the light tables. With audio we create imaginary spaces within the “heads” of the listeners using the technology of wireless headphones enabling acoustic intersubjectivity. Wireless headphones allow viewers to internalize the women’s voices and other ambient, environmental sounds while experiencing their own mobility in an immersive environment.

This project was made possible with support from California State University San Marcos.   Thank you: Beverly Ahern (Brochure Design), Adam Reimers (Light Table Design), Katsura Kan and Charlene Penner (Performers), Sarah Bonilla (Voiceover), Dina Academia, Garrett Cook, Desiree Cuizon, Brandon McCray and Charlene Penner (Tree Trimmers), and Tony Allard, Dr. Gali Goldwaser, Dr. Linda Mona, and Beth Stock.



June 28 - November 29, 2008
California Center for the Arts Museum, Escondido
340 North Escondido Blvd.
Escondido, CA 92025
Opening Reception, June 28, 6-9pm
Artist Talk, Wednesday, September 3, 2-pm

July 2008
SEEDS, Somatic Experiments in Earth, Dance + Science;
Video Screening

November 2008
Congress on Research in Dance
Dance Studies and Global Feminisms Conference
"United & Severed: Collaborative Research and Cognitive Authority"
Hollins University, Roanoke, VA; conference paper

November - December 2009
Art Produce Gallery
Exhibition installation
San Diego, CA

"Topographies: Sites, Bodies, and Technologies", Society of Dance History Scholars, Stanford University; video screeening

Festival de Videodanza, Tijuana, Mexico; video screening

January 2009
College Art Association, Los Angeles
"Empathy in Media": conference paper

August 2010
International Symposium on Electronic Arts (ISEA), Belfast: conference paper

International Video Dance Festival of Burgundy; video screening

Istanbul Dance Film Festival; video screening

Kristine Diekman has worked for several years in video and new media. She is committed to making socially integrated work while exploring issues on a personal level. Her work has addressed mental illness, institutionalization, language, incarceration and feminist identity through documentary, narrative and poetic strategies.  She has received awards from New York State Council on the Arts, New York Foundation for Arts, Paul Robison Foundation, Rhode Island State Arts Council, and is a 2001-2002 recipient of a Media Fellowship from California State Council on the Arts. Her work has shown throughout North and South America, Europe, Australia and Asia. She is currently Professor of Video at California State University, San Marcos, where she has developed The Community Video Project. The project works with community members to produce videos to solve problems affecting the region.  She serves on the Board of Directors of Media Arts Center, San Diego.

Karen Schaffman is a choreographer, writer, and life-long dancer.  Her research is concerned with sensorial perception, memory, and the politics of transgression. Karen is interested in witnessing bodies, both everyday and spectacular, in curious states of investigation. She presses paradox and the agency of vulnerability as means to disrupt cultural norms of performativity.   She earned her Ph.D. in Dance History and Theory from University of California, Riverside with her research focused on contact improvisation and identity politics.  Karen is also a graduate of the European Dance Development Center, where she engaged with leaders in the field of experimental dance and improvisation.  Currently, she is Associate Professor of Dance at California State University San Marcos and travels internationally to work at festivals and schools.  A devoted collaborator, she has contributed to the collective efforts of Lower Left, Downstream, and the European-based Veronika Blumstein Group.

Anna O'Cain is a San Diego based artist originally from Pascagoula, Mississippi. In 2005 artists Richard Keely and Anna O’Cain traveled with supplies and cash from California friends to help Hurricane Katrina victims in Pascagoula. Anna is currently providing audio interviews with Katrina victims to the University of Southern Mississippi archives of oral history. An installation work based on Katrina stories and photos will be exhibited in San Diego in August 2008. She teaches in the Art Department at Mira Costa College, received an MFA in Visual Art from the UC San Diego, and a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is a recipient of a public art commission with artist Richard Keely (Carlsbad, California), has received grants from the California Arts Council and Art Matters in New York City and residencies from the Ucross Foundation in Wyoming and the Djerassi Foundation near Palo Alto, California. O’Cain’s work addresses question s of epistemology (how we learn things, what we remember, what we forget and reconfigure in our personal stories). She plays with fragments of memory, rules of order and organization, instructional voices and diagrams and fictional record keeping. She finds events, objects and conversation of everyday life to be a vibrant source of inspiration. Her work investigates the ways we use language and it’s narratives (both visual and textual) to make sense of the world around us and how those narratives in turn shape our reading of the world. Recent installations include interpretive performances taken from daily life such as mending clothes, making orange felt book covers for books in a library, baking pies, and lighting gun powder with collaborator Richard Keely to create drawing mandalas.

Richard Keely is an artist and educator from southern California. Originally trained as a painter Richard’s work during the last ten years has turned towards sculpture and installation. With the sculptural work Richard is concerned with transforming ordinary objects into visually dense wall pieces that evoke an array of emotive possibilities. Richard's Installation projects have been collaborations with San Diego artists Lynn Hendrick and Anna O’Cain. With these installations Keely, Hendrick, and O’Cain explore ideas concerning the visceral side of accumulating, storing, preserving, and communicating ideas and information. Richard’s work has a national reputation including recent solos exhibitions at gallery 4016 in Los Angeles and CAD/XO Gallery in Chicago and recent collaborations with Anna O’Cain at Art Around Adams and the Spruce Street Forum in San Diego. Additional collaborations with O'Cain include INSITE 2000 in San Diego and a Ceremonial performance at Beyond Baroque in Los Angeles. He has also exhibited his work and given lectures at several well known Universities and has been a “Visiting Artist” at Oberlin College and Montana State University. In 1996 he Richard awarded a grant from Art Matters in New York. Richard has traveled extensively throughout Europe, Asia, and Africa and has lived and studied Chinese painting in Taipei, Taiwan. Currently Richard is living in San Diego CA and is an Associate Professor of Art at San Diego State University, where he teaches sculpture for the School of Art, Design and Art History.

Kim Anderson was looking forward to majoring in music until a car accident permanently injured her two weeks before her 19th birthday. Now paralyzed from the shoulders down, she is finishing her teaching credential and her Masters of Education at National University, having graduated cum laude from Cal State San Marcos with a bachelor's degree in Literature and Writing in 2007. Kim is currently student teaching in Murrieta where she lives with her family. She is active in her church and her community. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, reading, writing, and watching television and movies.

Ivy Kensinger Before her accident in 2003, ivy was a vibrant 19-year-old woman with a bright future in photojournalism dealing in music. She was a student, an active concert attendee, and worked with several bands. Shortly after befriending her favorite band, AFI, ivy's life changed forever when a man in a large vehicle ran her off the freeway and over a 150 foot cliff while she was en route to her French final. After being given less than 1% chance, labeled "unsalvageable," and spending 2 years in the hospital, ivy made it home and is pushing to get her life back.

Michele Caputo Michele sustained her spinal cord injury on Oct. 3, 1981, at the age of 24 while leaving a job estimate for her burgeoning landscaping business in CT. She was hospitalized 8 months, 3 months in ICU, and 5 months in rehabilitation, where the doctors, in their finite wisdom, prescribed addictive pharmaceuticals, to remedy her (C-6) quadriplegia. Michele sought holistic practices to overcome her addiction to Valium and other painkillers. Through yoga and acupuncture she regained her life and adjusted a way to live life while using her chair for mobility. She traveled throughout the country, seeking refuge from northeastern winters. She pursued her education at several universities in the southwest, eventually earning her Master’s degree in counseling at SDSU. During the course of her education she traveled to Great Britain, Europe and Japan, raising awareness about human rights and disability issues. She currently works for the Home Shopping Network. As a quadriplegic, Michele consistently spends half of her salary hiring individuals to work as her personal care attendants, daily, so that she can work and live outside the confines of institutions: pursuing, life, liberty and happiness.


Installation Documentation Video
Documentation of Installation
California Center for Arts, 2008

Full length video
United & Severed: That Window of Time, 22:00

Video Excerpts
Kim Anderson
Ivy Kensinger
Michelle Caputo


sample table sample table 3 hand and object
hand and object objects
ivy 2 ivy 1 kim
pile1 pile 4 pile 3

"United and Severed: 29 Palms" is a community-based project utilizing video, sound, performance, and real-life stories told by survivors of traumatic war injuries. It utilizes a physical interface that allows viewers to access the database of recorded stores in audio and video. Via the vehicle of interactivity, the work creates a deep intersubjective experience for the viewer in which he or she stands in the place of the subject further heightening the understanding of the experience of trauma for the viewer. Due to the somatic, embodied nature of the project, I am interested in developing interfaces that utilize touch, and such sensations as pressure, heat, and numbness.

I am seeking participants for this project. War veterans and active duty individuals are encouraged to contact me about how they can participate in sharing their stories related to physical or mental trauma sustained in war time activities. Contact me at kdiekman@csusm.edu.

Information about BANFF New Media Institute can be found at http://www.banffcentre.ca/bnmi/