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upgrading and evolving

sarah pirrie looks into videdromo 1.5 at 24hr art

Sarah Pirrie is a visual artist who works in multimedia performance and lectures at Charles Darwin University.

Tanja Visosevic, Peepshow, Rated VHS, photo Fiona Morrison Tanja Visosevic, Peepshow, Rated VHS, photo Fiona Morrison
EVOLUTION IS A TERM THAT HAS NOT BEEN USED LIGHTLY IN DARWIN’S CONTEMPORARY ART SPACE, 24HRART IN RECENT MONTHS. VIDEODROMO 1.5, CURATED BY WA ARTISTS LEON MARVELL, TANJA VISOSEVIC AND YOLANDE PICKETT, AND DAWN OF REMIX BY SYDNEY’S SODA_JERK & SAM SMITH, ARE TWO EXAMPLES OF REFLECTIVE PRACTICES WHICH AIM TO QUESTION EVOLUTIONARY TECHNOLOGIES THAT BURST ONTO THE MARKET ONLY TO CONVERGE WITH THE VERY DEVICES THESE TECHNOLOGIES HAVE OSTENSIBLY SUPERSEDED. BOTH GROUPS ACTIVELY USE CONTEMPORARY MIXED MEDIA TO COMMENT ON OUR SOCIAL AND CULTURAL PRACTICES; HOW DOES THE LATEST, MUST-HAVE UPGRADE DEFINE WHO WE ARE BOTH IN OUR PERSONAL AND PUBLIC LIVES?

Videodromo 1.5, a restaging of the 2006 Perth event held at Spectrum Project Space, included local artists Elka Kerkhofs, Marko and Brandon Williamson for the Darwin performance. Profoundly interactive, the installation plays with the procedural aspects of modern technologies: TVs are made for passive viewing; video monitors are made for covert surveillance; still images should hang decorously on living room walls. Even the sound sculpture is hidden, heard but not seen, like so many in-built home sound systems today.

This was an experimental zone where the viewer was asked to respond to the familiar setting of a lounge room. Almost subconsciously the role of engagement expected of gallery goers is subverted and takes on a personal tone as we instinctively search out creature comforts: our sound system; our TV; our DVD/Video; our home theatre—the waves of successive technologies that have cemented their place in our lives.

Yolande Pickett’s still monitor images decorated the wallpapered walls of the Screening Room like TV screens. They provided an unsettling stillness which was dramatically juxtaposed with Marvell’s garbled projections. His central interactive exhibit was as unconscious as sleepwalking. Triggered by a motion detector between the monitor and projection screen, the viewer may or may not be aware of their participation in the show as the computer’s software generates alchemical images that flash, glide, fade in and out.

Marvell views this interplay as an act of meta-psychological creation in which our lost understanding of hermetic scripts is rediscovered with new and original meaning. Technology combines with human interaction as a form of artificial intelligence.

In addition to the Screening Room, VIDEODROMO 1.5 provided the audience with an opportunity to view one of Tanja Visosevic’s Peepshows, Rated VCR. Prompted by an advertisement in the local NT newspaper, the show attracted ‘standing room only’ queues on opening night. Visosevic’s staged Duchampian readymade used the site of the gallery toilets for a series of montages ranging from video porn to mobile phone mini-dramas.

This was a powerful piece as it used the theatrics of pubic toilets to expose our hidden and highly emotive interactions with technologies. Our emotional reliance on abbreviated language and the complex semiotic platforms which form the basis of mobile phone voice/text/video messaging has blurred the boundaries between public and private.

Visosevic’s Dadaist performance component transmitted fragmented moments of her peepshow sessions to the waiting crowds via a surveillance monitor within the gallery space. In one instance a mother viewing the peepshow (recognised only from the back of her head) was being watched by the general public on the black and white loungeroom monitor while her sons, unsupervised in the lounge and oblivious to the monitor above their heads, were playing on their mobile phones. This clearly was an environment which taps into our deep rooted psychological relationship with technology.

Soda_Jerk (Dan and Dominique Angeloro) & Sam Smith re-edit Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey using sequences from the “First Lesson” to convert the hominid awakening to the use of tools into a discovery of scratch, beat and dance. The “Dawn of Remix” is a humorous sleight of hand which lays memories open to a new narration of events. Kubrick’s ‘cube’ enlightens mankind to the hip hop culture of audio remixing.

Well positioned in the Monitor Space of 24HrArt, this re-edit was seen by crowds of passersby on the busy market days allowing for quick grabs or extended viewings. Memories are reconnected to the original film or mashed with the kaleidoscope of the everyday on the street, film present and past. The Beastie Boys and LL Cool J’s track Can’t Live Without My Radio could do no better for a new video clip.


Videodromo 1.5, curators Leon Marvell, Tanja Visosevic, Yolande Pickett with Elka Kerkhofs, Marko, Brandon Williamson; Soda_Jerk & Sam Smith; 24HR Art, Darwin, Feb 16-March 24

Sarah Pirrie is a visual artist who works in multimedia performance and lectures at Charles Darwin University.

RealTime issue #78 April-May 2007 pg. 27

© Sarah Pirrie; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

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