Waiting For DaVinci

Julie Gemuend

Waiting for DaVinci belongs to a series of works, all of which live under the moniker Imprint . At large, Imprint addresses the relationship between two landscapes—one outside the self, the other within. Using the body as a conduit and a canvas, the project considers the intrinsic nature of this dynamic by imprinting the landscape upon human skin. This work aims to explore our connection with the natural world by probing the edges of identity and environment, interiority and exteriority, the tamed and the wild, and the places where the two merge. In these performance-based works, I employ my body to speculate on theories concerning the self, space and materiality within the context of the human body and its relationship to the physical world. 


In form, Waiting for DaVinci bears resemblance to a chronological index, each image pointing to the frame of video from which it came. Furthermore, the act of imprinting—bringing the body into direct physical contact with the earth—functions as index by creating an impression on the skin, which memorializes a moment of contact and initiates a play of presence and absence. 


Belonging to that species of sign Charles Saunders Pierce termed the index, the imprint implies a “material connection between sign and object as well as an insistent temporality – the reproducibility of a past moment.” [1] The index, as defined by Pierce, carries two definitions. Firstly, the index as trace, exemplified by a photograph, a footprint in the sand or an imprint on the skin. Secondly, the index as deixis, the pointing finger, the this of language. [2] Waiting for DaVinci explores the phenomenon of indexicality in all its shades and variances, smoothing out the creases of the grid and refolding.

A fold for each archived video still that points to the performance-based video from which it came.

A fold for the photograph as indexical image, which through its dynamical connection touches the real, bears its impression, and hence assures us that it is still there.

A fold for the imprint itself, which functions much like the photograph, capturing the rapid traces of a moment.

Waiting for DaVinci was born of technological interferences. Every avenue pursued—be it the video format, the editing application, the hard drive on which the footage was stored—imposed lengthy pauses in post-production. After a series of unsuccessful attempts to bypass or resolve the issues, I found myself shuffling through the frames of footage, which were at the time, the only material to which I had access. These 752,427 frames composed a sweeping index far beyond the selection seen in Waiting for DaVinci. An overwhelming inventory that continued to point, even though that to which it referred was unreachable—in limbo—yet one more folding of presence and absence.

1 M. A. Doane,. 2007. “The indexical and the concept of medium specificity,” Differences 18, vo. 1 (January 2007): 136.

2 Amelia Jones, Body Art/Performing the Subject (University of Minnesota Press, 1998), 46.