Stefani Byrd’s art practice includes video, new media, and interactive technologies. Byrd’s early work addressed social justice issues in the form of interactive temporary public art installations that created role reversal, or “empathy training,” experiences for the audience. Her current work focuses on creating psychologically charged immersive media environments addressing topics such as digital feminism, gun violence, and how technology impacts empathy in digitally mediated spaces. Her practice aims to shed light on the complicated nature of communication and emotional fluency in a networked culture where imbalanced power structures continue to shape our interactions. Often her work confronts or undermines these systems by turning the tables on traditional power relationships.
She has received grants and support from groups such as: Creative Capital of New York, Flux Projects, the InLight Richmond Festival, Atlanta Celebrates Photography, Filmatic Festival, IDEA Festival, and Idea Capital. Her work has been reviewed and featured in such places as the Public Art Review Magazine, the Public Art Archive, the Huffington Post, the Atlanta Journal Constitution, and Art Papers Magazine. In 2015, she trained in The Abramovic Method of Performance with Marina Abramovic. She is currently being trained in Pauline Oliveros’ method of Deep Listening with The Center for Deep Listening through Rensselaer Institute.
The Razor’s Edge: The Women
“…we are walking the razor’s edge—we are in the present moment.”
-Charlotte Joko Beck, This Very Moment
The breath is a constant reminder of our physicality and an anchor to our embodied experience. In these video portraits performers exhale slowly against an unseen piece of glass, fogging and obscuring their faces in fleeting moments between breaths. When shown on individual vertical video monitors, it creates the illusion that the performers are breathing against the glass of the screen. This work references the use of the “breath test” in the era before modern medicine where a mirror would be placed under the nose of the dying to test for respiration.
The illusion in the video is uncanny and the screen itself becomes the edge of the razor that separates both past from present, performer from viewer, and the living presence of the viewer from the illusion of life on the screen. An exploration in impermanence, embodiment, and the mediating presence of the screen, the work captures the breath – making it visible just long enough to be confronted by both performer and viewer.