One year ago I encountered a piece of art that will have a lasting impact on my practice. It was not the piece itself in its representation of its subject but instead its manner of presentation. Two laptops sat on white shelves facing each other in a narrow hallway, playing corresponding animations drawn in an early-2000s-Rhode-Island-cum-Deitch-DIY style. The piece did almost nothing for me. But something about the laptops resonated. I reached out and pressed the Space bar and, predictably, the video paused. I moved on.
Over time that experience has stuck with me. An image environment in which the same device is used for capture, alteration, and dissemination, and in which this device is in the hands of so many people as to become ubiquitous and intimately familiar, challenges completely any previous system of presentation. One way I have dealt with this is by creating pointed transformations of materials from one object to another. This work draws from our continued and varied quantification of every conceivable object and variable, a world of representation opened up by a climate in which everything is anything else. The content of the image is now meaningless. Instead the meaning and our own understanding of it is distilled from how we organize, quantify, relate it to other images, and ultimately display it.
Just as my experience of the DIY animation was altered completely by my familiarity with the object that carried it as an image, my recent work is invested in drawing specific attention to our tools of representation and presentation/dissemination. Whether through structural alteration of an image or by method of installation they are intended as concept renderings or proposals for this less-restricted image environment.
In Full Throttle, a six-screen video installation and continuing series, action and suspense scenes from major Hollywood films are recorded streaming over the Internet at very slow connection speeds. Each film is a major part of our collective pop culture consciousness but is made available publicly only through means which are morally and institutionally spurned by physical-object-oriented capitalism. As a result, this type of content is nomadic, always existing somewhere without restriction but perpetually needing a new haven. Here, through the process of recording these over a throttled Internet connection, they become abstracted and formalized versions of their original images, dispelling or intensifying the tension created for the scene by the filmmaker and redirecting the aesthetic focus to the medium of display.
Proposed Videos I-III, also on display at Extra Extra, is a video installation in physical space intended to be viewed through documentation after the close of the exhibition. In a perversion of the tradition of process- or instruction-based conceptual work, a Final Cut Pro file is created by adding and arranging layers of appropriated video and effect filters to create an abstract video file. The gallery installation of the piece consists of a computer set up in the space. On opening night the video began rendering, and will continue rendering during open gallery hours for the duration of the exhibition. The first week presents Proposed Video I, second week Proposed Video II, and third week Proposed Video III. As the video renders, the gallery becomes the site of the video’s creation rather than its site of exhibition. Those familiar with the presented tool are invited to stop the process of rendering and view instead a piece with variable duration based on how long the file has been in the gallery. Each video file is created to be complex enough to never be able to finish rendering within the time allotted, ensuring that the installation of the piece will remain the same for the duration of the exhibit and ensuring that the video will never be seen in its entirety. At the end of the exhibition, what has been created of all three videos will be saved and the Final Cut files—the instructions used to create them—will be deleted. The finished segments will then be posted to the Internet as documentation of the performance, as files which were created explicitly at Extra Extra, and as pieces in and of themselves. Any restaging of this piece or further works in the series will necessitate new files.
For both of these pieces, a common myth about the speed and complexity of visual culture in the Internet age is provided a counterpoint: both creation and dissemination are punctuated by agonizing periods of pause.