Occupied Territory (2000)

kayam 630 355Occupied Territory, made in conjunction with the single channel piece, Kayam Al Hurbano (Existing on its Ruins) produced in collaboration with Bosmat Alon (1999), displays scenes shot in Deheishe, a refugee camp near Beth-Lehem, Palestine.  Like CityQuilt and Rural (two prior navigable movies) Occupied Territory serves as a prototype for a new type of documentary whereby navigation through a video canvas makes use of space as interface (or metaphor) for the representation of other types of sequences (e.g. temporal, thematic, imaginary).

Motion of the navigable movie is activated by rolling the cursor over the inside edges of the movie’s frame.  Movement stops when the cursor is placed over the center of the frame or is altogether outside it.  There are eight possible directions of motion: left-right, top-bottom, and the four corners.

The landscape navigated seems to be desolate and unoccupied, yet various stories or transformations of scenes, both outdoors and indoors, are concealed within it.  There are two ways to access the hidden temporal axis, and to visit and watch these scenes in depth.  An icon in the shape of an eye signals the first type of entry.  When the eye-cursor is moved to the center of the frame, the images are momentarily re-inhabited by the people of Deheishe.  A scene evolves and then dissolves.  Navigation can be resumed at any point during or after the scene takes place, by moving the cursor back to the frame’s edges.

A second type of entry, also from the center of the frame, is available whenever the eye-icon does not appear.  This second type of entry is signaled by the navigation icon transforming over the center area into the shape of a hand.  When the mouse is pressed down in the center area, during the appearance of the hand icon, one of many hidden, semi transparent, indoors portraits of the place is revealed behind the empty streets and flat walls.  The scene evolves as long as the mouse is kept pressed down.  When the mouse is released, the mirage evaporates, walls become opaque, and navigation can be resumed.