I Feel Your Pain, Liz Magic Laser, 2011. A Performa Commission. Featuring Annie Fox and Rafael Jordan. Photo: Yola Monakhov.
One of the greatest parts about Chase is the difficulty in determining who the actor is speaking to a great deal of the time - to the other actors through editing, to the camera and the viewer, to the occasional spectators and even apparently to the ATM machines themselves. Was this complication between the project and the viewer, film and theater a goal of the artwork?
For Chase I worked with each actor to make the “Man Equals Man” script resonate in a two-fold manner, both in the context of the original play’s dialogue and in the immediate scenario of the bank vestibule. We were constantly juggling these two registers of meaning: the illusory space of the play and the actual space of the bank. At the beginning I told the actors they could direct their lines to bank clients, my camera, the ATM machines or other inanimate objects in the bank. I outlined these parameters and we played with each line until it struck a cord on both fictional and immediate registers. It was a challenge I put to each performer to imagine that their scene partner could be a passerby or a bank advertisement. The two-tiered approach is then repeated because we are addressing two audiences, the audience we encountered in the bank and the audience who would be watching the montaged video. One audience is exchanged for another, a passerby is incorporated as a player or a machine is treated as if it were a person. The exchangeability of all people and things loomed large throughout the project as both theme and method.
In addition to dealing with the way ATM's transform us into automatons there ...
Acting the Words is Enacting the World, 2011 more at Enacting the Words Photo: Dwayne Dixon
Your Rhizome commission is a continuation of the Fantastic Futures project (which already includes recordings of birds in Baghdad and someone making tea in Brooklyn). It seems to be another in a continuing series of projects exploring contemporary education practices and ways of learning like Secret School and "How To Do Things With Words." How do you see this project fitting into your larger educational practice? What sort of transformations do you hope to see in education that could result from a project like Fantastic Futures?
Yes, it’s continuing a collaboration with a group of students in the US (in particular at Parsons The New School for Design) and at the University of Baghdad, that began with And Longing is No Longer Sleeps (the project that we did for the exhibit “How to Do Things With Words”), and further develops some of the collaborative processes from Secret School (a curatorial and discursive project about pedagogy), Acting the Words is Enacting the World, a project with artist Hong-An Truong and a group of young folks completed this past summer, and generally the strategies and techniques that I use in my classes.
Our goals for Fantastic Futures are fairly modest: we aim towards facilitating a diversity of exchanges (experiential, social, political, etc), advocating for a free and open cultural commons, leaving a gesture that serves as a collective protest against past and future violence. Nevertheless, I always secretly hope that something from our collective process is transformative for all involved.
In an interview for the Walker Art Center, you talk about preferring to keeping these education oriented ...
Artie Vierkant, Image Objects 2011
You are continuing to explore your Image Objects series for your Rhizome commission, which seems to deal with new elements of the age-old difficulties with representation and the power of images. In your statement, you say you introduce distortion in an attempt to intentionally "not accurately represent the physical sculpture" which seems to imply that a photograph, straight out of the camera, will 'accurately represent' the physical sculpture. Do you think that this is true, or possible? What do you think that your distortions introduce to the images?
The thinking behind Image Objects has always been that by introducing distortions (and layers of other imagery) into the images I can make the viewing experience on the Internet or through other mediated sources fundamentally different from viewing the objects in an installation setting. It also allows me to make a lot more pieces than I could otherwise. These all start as digital files, so ultimately it's rather arbitrary at what point I decide that a file I'm working on is ready to be physically produced—any one of these could easily have undergone more changes, had more or less layers, &c. So by having a piece produced physically and then splitting it into all of these different variations I have the opportunity to sort of go back into it and reshape it into all of the other shapes it could have been.
All of this does stem a bit from, yes, feeling that for the most part installation photographs very accurately represent what a physical sculpture looks like. When I see documentation of works before I visit the exhibition, usually the act of visiting does little more than produce a sense of deja vu. Even if not, install photos are usually an idealized version ...
Dave Greber's The Fool, The Hierophant, The Devil and the Wheel
There's a rather distinct cadence to the way that people communicate in your pieces with characters often having their dialogue cut up, displaced and de-contextualized. It seems to simultaneously give them a stilted, artificial quality but also seems very true to how we're coming to communicate with text messages and the forced brevity of Twitter. Do you think that we're learning to speak from commercials?
Commercials, in their contemporary form, have their own built-in morality and sanity which are influencing the world in ways we don't fully understand yet. Is it possible to say anything "true" in the form of a commercial? Or, is the form, itself, inherently corrupt? A big-picture goal of my work is to fully harness the effectiveness of capitalist messages, for communication of real value, without satirizing them. I think we are all going through this struggle as we learn to re-communicate, every few years or so, with each new advent social media.
It seems that the majority of your videos are presented (even online) as loops - why do you think that you are drawn to the loop as a formal and narrative device?
Much of my work, exists in a sort of purgatory, where beginnings and endings aren't as apparent as in most forms of cinema. In my experience, exhibiting my work in the form of a linear-narrative leaves audiences baffled and uncomfortable. But a loop is a much more natural shape for my work. A loop gives the viewer an opportunity to linger with it if they are intrigued, or leave it behind if they want to. When I started giving the audience that power, my work became much more effective. There's a real elegant formal ...
A selection from Sara Ludy's series Projection Monitor
Much of your work seems concerned with the psychological and political dimensions of interior domestic spaces whether from second life or craigslist apartment listings. What sort of spaces do you enjoy working in? Or what would be your ideal space to work in?
I enjoy the spaces of everyday life whether they be real or virtual. These include landscapes and domestic spaces. Every new space is ideal, because it has its own logic and its own story.
Projection Monitor frequently includes images of translated, scanned and often distorted plants and natural landscapes. Has your explorations in digital environments and contexts changed your perception of physical nature ('in reality')?
I make comparisons between physical and virtual nature all the time. I have the same syndrome as when you've played a video game non-stop for days and the game effects the way you perceive your surroundings. For the past year I've been documenting Second Life nearly every day, so it's only natural for there to be a virtual spillover into reality. The practice of photographing a virtual world has directly informed the way in which I photograph real life spaces to the point where I generally gravitate towards spaces that could exist in Second Life. I've been very much involved in the process of documentation for the past year. For the past 2 months I've been looking back at this documentation and creating series based on the Projection Monitor and real life photographs I have taken. I recently released a series called 'Plant Classification' on Computers Club that contains various plants and landscapes found in Second Life.
Tremblexy uses projections to create sound environments and the second life recordings include internet radios left on in the background - a ...