The Razor’s Edge

Stefani Byrd

Eight HD Video Portraits Shown on Individual Vertically Mounted HD Monitors



“...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.