The Wilderness Film Studio

  • "Skunk Windscreen", Hand-sewn hair wefts, skunk hide parts, foam, fabric, and shotgun microphone, 16"x8"x12", 2016

These functional sculptures are built from natural animal and plant materials. This series remixes history, imagining a technology built on embodiment and animism instead of cleanliness and efficiency. Videos of the Wilderness Film Studio in action coming soon.

The Wilderness Film Studio
Sculptural Series

The Advocate

Though I live 5 miles from the Golden Gate bridge I often wake up to the sound of the foghorns. Whenever possible, I head to the coast with my camera, set it up and join the cacophony of the Bay. The foghorns are an old technology, yet there are 19 functioning foghorns in the San Francisco Bay that (alongside GPS) steer ships from the cliffsides, outcroppings, and pillars of the bridge. In addition, ships traveling in and out have their own sounds. In adding my voice, I am making a small contribution to the larger forces of commerce and natural beauty that define the Bay, and confounding the constant stream of nature-lovers and tourists of the Presidio.
Ongoing Performance Series, Variable time
Presidio, San Francisco CA

Make Me Change Me

These four video excerpts feature performers reading from texts found in the city’s trash.

I was invited to be artist-in-residence at Recology, San Francisco’s city waste and recycling management center: four months of unlimited access to a facility where mountains of construction materials, furniture, and the detritus of abandoned houses and apartments pass through and are sorted for reuse. Every artist I’ve met in this program finds something astounding. For me that was scraps of paper with hand-written notes–a letter or poem or record of a dream that somehow caught my eye. The performers are engulfed by materials and costumes created from trash, a dual burden of material and memory that requires some effort to convey. In this excerpt, Ingrid Rojas Contreras reads from a chapter of a book on regression that someone typed out with handwritten notes, Dean Hernandez reads sentences from an English language assignment, Florentina Mocanu-Schendel delivers a shopping list mixed up with sermon notes, and I read from a dream journal written in 1993.

This was made possible by Recology. Special thanks to Deborah Munk, Sharon Spain, Micah Gibson, Alison Pebworth, and Miguel Arzabe.

Make Me Change Me
Recology Artist in Residency, San Francisco CA

American Light

  • "Mirror Jump Into 'In the Mountains' by Albert Bierstadt", Mixed media on book plate, 2015


Explorers over the last three centuries have navigated dark sea waters aided by a sextant, which bounces light off of two mirrors. Beacon employs mirrors and water to create reflections inspired by the idea of the night-traveler, a person for whom getting lost in the landscape can be a revelation of the self. Small groups joined Barber to hike out from the dramatic mountain landscape of the Santa Cruz Mountains, arriving at a redwood grove along Harrington Creek at nightfall. The audience members were then guided to the installation in complete darkness and one at a time; laying on a reclining bench above a pool of water, lights were brought up to illuminate his or her face. There are 24 reflections, half above and half below the water. Each is in fact a double reflection, bouncing off both mirror and water, and thus showing the viewer a vision of the self as others see her.

The journey to encounter this piece––the downward slope of the hillside, the rolling fog, the owls hunting from the trees––is integral to the experience of self-reflection.

This work was created while in at the Djerassi Resident Artist Program. Special thanks to Margot Knight, Tom Shean, Celia Olsen and Alice Marshall.

Djerassi Resident Artist Program, Woodside CA

The Marvelous Real

  • Bring to Mind (detail), 2014

The Marvelous Real / Lo Real Maravilloso is a project and exhibition by Jeremiah Barber and Ingrid Rojas Contreras. Bridging narrative storytelling with visual art, Rojas and Barber collaborate around themes present in both their works — the absence of the body, extrasensory occurrences in the everyday, memory displaced by time, and the nature of belief. The Marvelous Real is an observational portrayal of fervent belief in dramatically different backgrounds — Rojas’ grandfather was a medicine man in Colombia and Barber’s father was a pastor in the American midwest. Through video, sculpture, and artist books the exhibition features new works and highlights selections from their ten year collaboration.The Marvelous Real was curated by Sanaz Mazinani and presented at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts in San Francisco in spring of 2015. With the support of a grant from the San Francisco Arts Commission, the artists hosted several workshops to teach codex-accordion bookmaking.

The Marvelous Real
Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts, San Francisco CA

Other Half Orbit

In 2007 my partner, the writer Ingrid Rojas Contreras, was struck by a car on the way to pick up her wedding dress, three days before our wedding. She suffered a concussion and temporary amnesia. This incident became the inspiration for our collaborative work Other Half Orbit.

The installation consists of a large reflecting pool with built-in topographies to hold our bodies horizontally at exactly half-submersion. The images of our bodies become completed by reflection, and a secondary reflection of our shadows is cast on the wall. In the performance, we host an unscripted conversation about Ingrid’s memory loss, dreams, identity, and the possibility that we may never know one another fully.

Performance collaboration with Ingrid Rojas Contreras, 85 minutes
Southern Exposure, San Francisco CA

Video: Rory Fraser and Christian Gainsley
Sound: Elisabeth Kohnke
Photographs: Catherine McElhone and Jamil Hellu


  • "Dreamburn", Custom mirroring pool, paper body replica, wire, 10 min performance, pool size 25'x14'x4', 2012

In late 2011, Amir Mortazavi of Highlight Gallery and David Kasprzak invited me and eight other artists to create installations in a “fisherman’s cottage”–a single family dwelling built in 1876 in San Francisco’s Marina district–at 3020 Laguna Street. We were instructed to use only materials found in the building, told that the work would be destroyed with the building a month later, and given a key.For my installation Dreamburn I flooded the drive-in garage with a mirrored pool. Beams passing through the roll-up door supported the weighty body of water. I constructed a paper replica of my body (made by laying the paper directly on my skin, adhering it together, cutting it open and resealing each seam). In a performance, I suspended the body above the water, laid in the water under the body double, and set it on fire.

With the support of an Emergency Grant from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts in New York, Dreamburn was captured on 16mm film.

Performance, 10 minutes, and installation
Highlight Gallery Projects, San Francisco CA
Video: Rory Fraser and Christian Gainsley
Sound: Ryan Malloy
Photographs: Andy Vogt and Elisabeth Kohnke
Body construction assistance by Ingrid Rojas Contreras

Lift/Head Filament

I set out to make a replica of my head that would float into the sky. The replica was built from rice paper and had an undercarriage of balsa wood supporting a small candle. Standing in the woods for minutes, I waited, staring at what seemed to be myself. As the candle burned it became lighter and lighter. At the very second it began to leave my hands, the candle had burned through and the wood caught fire, then the paper itself.
Performance, 7 minutes
In an elm grove, Palo Alto CA

Video: Ingrid Rojas Contreras

Nonexistent, Come to Me

For my final thesis at Stanford University, I construct a replica of my head, at a scale of ten, from interwoven redwood branches. The framework is covered in clear vinyl and, in a performance, I sew myself inside and begin to walk within the head from my studio to Stanford’s art gallery. The distance is near 2 miles. The only aperture in the vinyl head is the nostrils, so breathing is quite difficult. I am wearing a wireless microphone and the invited audience follows, listening to the intimate and strained sound of my breathing.
Performance, 2 hours, and Sculptural Artifact
Stanford Art Gallery
Video: Rory Fraser and David Goligorsky
Photographs: Jamil Hellu and Sanaz Mazinani