Louisiana Re-storied


Louisiana Re-storied is an interactive, documentary installation about environmental justice and pollution governance in Southern Louisiana. The work revisits the contact between the oil industry and small, rural communities romanticized in Louisiana Story, Robert Flaherty’s 1948 docu-drama. Re-storied underscores the relationship between the region’s history of slavery and post-Civil War racism and current environmental, political and economic challenges and solutions. An important focus is the seminal legal victories and out-of-court settlements that community groups, in collaboration with scientist-activists, have won to protect residents’ health from toxic emissions. As a writerly hypertext, Louisiana Re-storied invites participants to navigate through 24 narrative threads. The deeper one ventures into the work, the more nuanced the material regarding the region’s correlatives and contingencies. My intent, as a social documentarian and artist, is not only to present a case study that may be useful to individuals and groups lobbying for stronger pollution regulation, but also to experiment with non-fiction form and affective and intellectual audience engagement. The first iteration of the work was created using MAX; for the second version (made for ISEA November 2014), I employed the Korsakow software. The first video, below, is a short (3:49 m) overview of the MAX-based installation. The second is an excerpt – one of the 24 video threads that comprise the hypertext. This thread stories the 1811 slave revolt in Southern Louisiana and includes music by Amede Ardoin.