Discussion of individual works
Pierre is developing a kinetic sculpture/text-based work comprised of three Rolodexes. Each card will present a sentence fragment. These fragments make no sense on their own, but form simple subject/verb/object sentence when juxtaposed with the others. Hence, the cards in the left Rolodex contains the subjects, the one in the middle presents verbs and the one on the right offers objects.
For example: R1 = "You" (subject); R2 "love" (verb); R3 "to collaborate" (object).
The cards will be shuffled automatically with an electric mechanism. Josh is working with Pierre to calibrate the gears so each Rolodex works at a different speed. The content of the cards will be drawn from narrative(s) of UC's development. The cards will reference to the Interim Report as well as extraneous material. (For example, Pierre will include the phrase "Mary had a little lamb".) And the premise of this artwork? I think it explores the proliferation of meaning in discursive art practice...
In our meeting, Pierre was quick to acknowledge there's something brazen about the mechanism's treatment of the group's efforts to date. The "rolling indexes" could be read as devalidating the idiosyncratic perspectives of individual collaborators on the grounds there is no certain truth, making the artwork a kind of (anti)history predicated on hyper-relativism. Tricky! This post-structural artwork reminds enacts the construction of truth..."genuine" truth (or at least truths told in earnest rather than irony) is based on some referent...or at least it should be...How to maintain fidelity to certain aspects of (the/a) truth while also acknowledging that it's also complex and contingent?
I'm fascinated by the way Pierre's artwork references the relationship between the individual and the group, shared versus common knowledge, and tacit versus explicit understanding. How will this one-armed-bandit references these relations? To what degree will the artwork's allusion to gambling evoke issues of risk?
Josh has offered to help with motorizing the mechanism; I've offered to write some of the myriad phrases. I wonder if/how Pierre will accept these offerings as collaboration. I've mentioned elsewhere that he doesn't believe our tri-part project is truly collaborative. This is because individual artists have determined the formal aspects of their "respective" artworks. Read more about this here.
Pierre remains unsure how he'll present his Rolodexes. Will they appear on a plinth or on a table? How interactive will they be? Will they be fully automated or will they invite some form of direct engagement?
Josh's EastEnders Video Installation
Josh is revising the narrative for the video piece he's managing. This work narrates a conversation based on our disagreement at the Barbican on February 15, 2009. The utterances comprising the narrative are assigned to three interlocutors. However, a single narrator will read the entire dialogue, inflecting the different speaker's utterances with specific significance. This will be juxtaposed with silent (?) footage from EastEnders. A banner at the bottom of the frame will stream the dialogue as text in a ticker tape-like fashion, so it can be heard and read.
I recently experienced a work that where a single narrator read all three speakers' utterances. It's a challenging approach. It can be difficult to know who is speaking without a change in voice. Josh said he might control this visually by having footage of different EastEnders characters shown in relation to each interlocutor. I wonder how the artwork will enact our collaborative dynamics...or not?
I've not seen the most recent iteration of Josh's dialogue but he says I'm more apologetic in this version. This struck both Pierre and me as strange... I'm not quite sure what it is I'll be apologizing for? I also wonder if this reassignment isn't an attempt to make me seem a little less emphatic, which is how I believe my part reads in the last version of the dialogue that Josh shared with us.
Josh remains unsure if he'll present the work on a TV that sits on the floor or in some other form.
My Suspicious Minds
I'm developing a karaoke-inspired piece comprised of - (1) the sound of Elvis's 1956 hit 'Suspicious Minds', (2) images of pink skies (sunrises/sunsets) and (3) text synced to the song that offers alternative lyrics. These lyrics jive with the song lyrics through different types of rhyme - generally end rhyme.
The piece references my "break up" with Josh at the Barbican. It does so, in a way that speaks about the messy reality of interpersonal conflict in general. I am interested in the implications of both the visual and sonorous "sounding" simultaneously, and the ways in which their alternative content creates dissonance within the piece.
Neil offered some useful feedback when I showed it to him last week. He observed the alternative lyrics seem to be singing the private thoughts of the song. A nice way to put it. We were both wondering, however, if the present images are well suited for the work's premise. Josh encouraged me to stick with sunsets but perhaps use (at least this is my interpretation of his suggestion) one where there's less additional information in the frame, such as silhouettes of fishermen, cities, forests, etc. There general agreement that some visual element in addition to the text is important, and that experiencing the piece involves shifting one's attention among the images, the text and the sound.
Interestingly, Pierre talked about how few would know the original song while Neil felt it as a widely known hit--a good reminder of just how generational music can be.
Pierre was also concerned about the cognitive load involved in the interpretation of this piece. The rapid refocusing required demands a lot of viewers. Certainly, this was my experience when I first observed an intentional decoupling of written and spoken text in Dan Graham's Rock My Religion where his spoken narration and the written narration offer different types of content. The strategy used in the karaoke-inspired piece is a little different, more closely related to malapropisms and eggcorns. Levity thus mediates the dissonance in this video installation. Ideally, this humour enables sufficient displacement of the emotional content of the work thereby making the complex and weighty matter of interpersonal betrayal and conflict light enough for broader audiences to pick up and engage with.
I'm still unsure how to present this installation, but believe the artwork is better served through being staged with the trappings of a karaoke machine than as a projection...I'm presently investigating if/how I can secure one of these or alternatively suggest one through including a mic along with the monitor.
Project Update: March 18, 2009
We're on track for Sunday's presentation and critique.
I've been researching Karaoke machine rental in London and it seems it may be cheaper just to buy one. Pierre has a monitor at his place I can use. I'll also need speakers and a mic stand. And possibly lights. I'll be installing on Friday--all being well.
Karaoke is an amazingly diverse practice and there are many DIY variations. Here are some examples of lyric/image combos on YouTube: