Stephanie Syjuco Spectral City (A Trip Down Market Street, 1906/2018) retraces the path followed in the 1906 film A Trip Down Market Street by the Miles Brothers. The original film was shot in San Francisco using a black-and-white camera strapped to a cable car. Syjuco’s version travels the exact route from 7th Street and Market to the Ferry Building, but uses the open source program Google Earth Vision to retrace the city. This mediated vision of real space offers commentary on the limits and distortions of machine vision. The misshapen images of city buildings and municipal landmarks, rendered completely empty of bodies and community activity, prompt reflection on the total reorganization of civic space. With the centralization of tech companies in San Francisco’s mid-Market Street corridor, the fabric of the city has ruptured and splintered, creating an influx of extreme wealth and displacing long-time residents. Spectral City is a stark contrast to the 1906 original, which was filmed just before the Great Earthquake—an event that decimated San Francisco and many of its civic structures. Ultimately the two films are bookends of disaster: one natural and one man-made.
Stephanie Syjuco creates large-scale spectacles of collected cultural objects, cumulative archives, and temporary vending installations, often with an active public component that invites viewers to directly participate as producers or distributors. Using critical wit and collaborative co-creation, her projects leverage open source systems, shareware logic, and flows of capital to investigate issues of economies and empire. Born in the Philippines, Syjuco received an MFA from Stanford University and a BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute. She is the recipient of a 2014 Guggenheim Fellowship Award and a 2009 Joan Mitchell Painters and Sculptors Award. Her work has been exhibited widely, including at MoMA P.S.1, New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; ZKM Center for Art and Technology, Karlsruhe, Germany; the 12th Havana Biennial; and the Asian Art Biennial, Taiwan. She is an Assistant Professor of Sculpture at the University of California, Berkeley.