Moving five years ago from his native Cuba to Jacksonville, Kedgar Volta was struck by the uninhabited spaces in American city centers. He noticed that urban cores are often abandoned after workday hours end, and apartment dwellers rarely know even their nearest neighbors. Volta created this interactive video in order to examine a very different urban experience in his homeland, where neighbor interaction and street life are a constant. Presenting 24 video screens in a grid, the work suggests an apartment building with its outer wall peeled away to reveal the inhabitants’ lives and the relationships among them. One occupant sorts rice—good grains from bad— while another seems to be recovering from a hangover.
The videos have the look of security-camera footage, casting us in the role of voyeur. If we approach too closely, however, we interrupt the lives within and then the figures move toward us and directly address us, breaking the imaginary “fourth wall.” Suddenly—in a twist worthy of Hitchcock’s Rear Window
—we are no longer the viewers but the viewed.