Ross School - Senior Projects 2011


Student:  Noah Engel

Mentor: Kenneth Kilfara

Domain(s): Micaela Durand




Title: Phantasmagoria


I created and installed a multimedia installation for my Senior Project. I am fascinated by the factor of chance in creation. The universe is a system, which is infinitely complex. I am interested in how we can fathom infinity with such finite minds. I believe we do this by relating chaos to pattern. Through my project, I explore the relationship between the individual the environment around them. It is my hypothesis that we are each constantly creating our own realities through the patterns we see in this infinite, complex web. Through multiple medias, I have recreated my personal experiences , dreams, and relationships to this world. In doing this I am, in turn, encouraging people to have their own experiences and begin to see the patterns which exist in their realities. 




Artist Statement

Film Clips (Chaos, 424, 474, 484, 545, 558, Dreams/Owls, Faces, Installation)

Images (1, 2)

Music (Hallway, Theater)


VO Sketchup






Last summer in a bookstore I found Jean Paul SartreŐs book Nauseau. In it he writes that we experience life after it occurs by relating it to a narrative. While we are living we are simply living and doing. It is when we look back that we figure out what we have done.

I spent my summer at NYU Tisch school of the arts doing a 4-week intensive program on filmmaking. We each created our own short films and screened them at the end of the program. The program was deigned towards strengthening the skills needed to be a visual storyteller.

I thought about Sartre and about what a narrative really is and what our lives are. I realized we experience life as if we were movie cameras. Moving through time and space. Capturing moments with our senses and then after relating these moments to the bigger narrative framework of our lives.

This idea was further inspired from a film called Man with the movie camera directed by Dziga Vertov in 1929. This was an early experimental film, which explored the relationship between a camera and the environment around it. I realized that a camera plays a key role in relating pattern to the chaos of a situation by recording information. A camera is a tool we use to capture these moments, sort of a 6th sense, which exists outside of our bodies. I started seeing patterns everywhere. I realized that I was a pattern in myself within this larger pattern of everything and the way I myself a pattern related to this bigger pattern of everything was through a pattern, which I created and called my life. I found this very interesting and I chose to center my senior project on these ideas.

Multimedia can reach people on many different levels, much the same way that the school talks about Howard GardinerŐs theory of multiple intelligences. I wanted to be able to utilize these different forms of experiences and create a web in which the viewer was challenged to make pattern.

            By showing evolution through small-scattered fragments I will challenge people to form some sort of a narrative structure. The project will be dynamic in the sense that some might put it together in different ways than others. This is part of the whole sense of the world. We are an amalgamation of different perspectives.

Changing the form from a performance to an installation would mean more interaction for the viewers. They physically have to walk through the environment. The viewers can control what they want to see and for how long they want to see it. This gives the audience more freedom to have there own experience. It makes the project much more versatile and exemplifies this feeling I have towards an individuals role in society. Nothing is set in stone and anything is possible. Without the structure of a sit down performance thought will have room to grow and manifest itself in very different ways.

Viewers were given a word on a tag to wear before the entered. They entered a hallway lined with black paper with white writing. This black paper is reminiscent of the cover of the specific edition of Nauseau by Sartre which I have. It is reminiscent to me of my ideas inspired by that book. The other side has 4 paintings and two poems I have written. They each explore the process of trying to relate oneself to the complex patterns of the world. I also layed down bubble wrap on the floor so that when people entered they made sound as they walked through the hallway. Throughout the installation I use the motif of a cloud. Clouds I feel are these forms which seem chaotic yet people form patterns from them. They are these immense structures of gigantic proportion and yet they are ephemeral and change constantly. Viewers look at clouds and form shapes and patterns out of the chaos. The cloud embodies the values of my project

The hallway opens up into a larger room. Were words are recited behind a blanket where ambiguous faces are projected. A person struggles to draw and write and comprehend the faces and words behind the screen. And a television plays a recording of myself recreating a dream I had when I was younger via Google Sketchup. The hallway then opens up into a larger space with performers. I am standing at a camera capturing the actions of the performers and in doing so feeding the video through a loop creating a chaotic system being displayed on the screen. The performers are interacting and building structures. After the audience goes throguh the instiallation they are encouraged to relate the patterns, which they have formulated onto a wall containing others, experiences as well. These combine and create a sort of chaos out of order. The audience is left with an image of a globe. The same globe in the story I told at the beginning of this presentation. The viewer exits here at this globe. And In doing this relating everything they saw and experienced back to this giant framework pattern of our world. This is my installation


Works Consulted


Animal Collective. Merriweather Post Pavillion. Domino Records, 2009. CD.

Einstein on the Beach. Cond. Phillip Glass. Dir. Robert Wilson. By Robert Wilson, Christopher Knowles, Samuel M. Johnson, and Lucinda Childs. Metropolitan Opera House, New York, NY. Nov. 1976. Performance.

Man with a Movie Camera [motion Picture]. By Dziga Vertov and Yelizaveta Svilova. 1928.

Mandelbrot, Benoit B. Fractals: Form, Chance, and Dimension. San Francisco: W.H. Freeman, 1977. Print.

Miwa Matreyek's Glorious Visions | Video on Perf. Miwa Matreyek. TED: Ideas worth Spreading. Oct. 2010. Web. Nov. 2010. <>.

Rhizome | Medio Mutante - Demos MMVII-MMVIII (2010) / Videos Directed by Seth Nemec. Dir. Seth Nemec. Rhizome | Home. Web. 12 Dec. 2010. <>.

Sartre, Jean-Paul, Lloyd Alexander, and Richard Howard. Nausea. New York (N.Y.): New Directions, 2007. Print.

YouTube - Christian Marclay Mini Documentary. YouTube - Broadcast Yourself. Web. 15 Sept. 2010. <>.

YouTube - Whispering Pines 3 by Shana Moulton. Dir. Shana Moulton. Perf. Shana Moulton. YouTube - Broadcast Yourself. Web. 15 Feb. 2011. <>.


Outside Consultant


Micaela Durand

Traveler, New Media Artist, Filmmaker

MicaelaŐs work centers on the appropriation of Internet technology and its techniques. She has created various concept-computer art films and websites as well as performing with NYC based net art group BFFA3AE featured at Chelsea Art Museum, 179 Canal, and