7/29/06

The Readymade in the Age of Google Economics

Victoria Park Gallery
250 Johnston Street Abbotsford Melbourne, July 2006
featuring Be Young & Shut Up Council (Azlan McLennan & Michael Ascroft)
Vic-Park-01
I did not see all of the images in this exhibition. I did not sit down. I did not watch the looped footage stop and begin again and again. I did not stay long. I felt sick. I wanted to go outside. I asked myself – what is the point of presenting these images in an exhibition framed by the history of readymade art? read the review
Amelia Douglas

14 Comments:

Anonymous Robyn Dold said...

Any reference to the readymade immediately brings to mind Duchamp’s famously inverted urinal, submitted to the Independents show in 1917 and promptly rejected. At 4.30am, the day after I saw this exhibition, I lay awake wondering, seriously for the first time, about the offended sensibilities of the initial audience of that work. Did they feel the shock of that work physically; nerves jumping in terror; stomachs turning in disbelief? It was only then, twelve hours after I had left the gallery, that I began to consider the philosophical, art historical and political implications of this show.

At the time, in the exhibition space, my reactions to the work were not academic or abstract, but completely bodily. In front of the video playing on the first of the eleven shiny Apple Macs, I perched on the edge of a plastic chair with my head between my knees, trying not to faint; the sound of blood rushing past my ears stifling the recording of Jack Hensley’s guttural breath as his head was sawed from his body. The artists may have held up the medium for debate, but the content drowns out any Mcluhan-esque message. There was no room in this gallery for the consideration of the implications of the internet dissemination of war imagery. Nor of the use of such imagery in art.

Robyn Dold

11:23 AM  
Anonymous Tamsin Green said...

Sometimes you see something out of the corner of your eye that makes you wince, a dead cat for example, makes you look and look away. In the first minute I spent in Azlan McLennan and Michael Ascroft’s The Readymade in the Age of Google Economics, the urge to look away was strong. Following Duchamp’s premise the images and information in this show are presented unaltered. In this mock Internet café, however, blood and money flow as quickly as data. The possibility of the readymade has been expanded to incorporate the medium of media. For some the reaction was shock, others had seen it all before. The most interesting piece of information, in my view, was a cost counter of the ‘War on Terror’. This work adds flesh to the horrors of war, but in the forty odd years since photographs of the Vietnam War became public you have to ask whether burning more horror into the collective retina will lead to action, or apathy.

11:23 AM  
Blogger geoff lowe said...

I didn't see all of the images in this exhibition. I didn't sit down. I was in another place at the time so I missed the whole thing. I'm not given to looking at icky internet images and I'm not at all drawn to graphic violence especially if I think it's real. Yet, there seems to be certain things here that could take some more unpacking.
Artists like Jota Castro and Sislej Xhafa have been making transgressive political work about reality (we alreday know) that is violent, stupid or obvious for some time now. I wonder what kind of relation this show makes to these other artists' works?
There's a nut to crack here about say: Artemesia Gentelleschi's paintings of beheadings, Quentin Tarantino's graphic scenes and then real depicted video violence that is sometimes shown as a terrorist action?
How are we already implicated in these violences?
We begin to understand what-we-have-seen from these reviews, but it seems what is presented is something we more or less already know? it could be good to know more about the general cultural conditions that deliver us to a point like this?
We offer some quotes below in the hope of further exploring the presentation of this show and it's surrounding issues.

11:51 AM  
Anonymous Slavoj Zizek said...

Since the subject-citizen of a modern state can no longer accept his immersion in some particular social role that confers on him a place within the organic social Whole...we should ruthlessly tear up the constraints of the pre-moden organic "concrete universality," and fully assert the infinite right of subjectivity in all its abstrct negativity.
from
The Parallax View
Slavoj Zizek

12:15 PM  
Anonymous Alain Badiou said...

Talking about the end of the 80s:
dominating public opinion, one had ‘democracy’-in its entirely corrupt representative and electoral form- and ‘freedom’ reduced to the freedom to trade and consume
then:
A truth is solely constituted by rupturing with the order that’s supports it, never as an effect of that order.

from Being and Event
Alain Badiou

12:17 PM  
Anonymous Nick said...

The biggest problem I have with this exhibition is that for all of their visceral horror, the images have essentially been disarmed. For their original potency lies in their widespread accessiblity and prolific, democratic distribution. Neither of these potentials are questioned, and within the padded walls of a contextual space well accustomed to the shocking, the images seem like severed limbs for the morbid voyeur.

To me, the ramifications of importing such images into a gallery lie in their slowing down, their extraction from the flow. As a contemplative, esoteric space the art gallery is the antithesis of the internet’s virtual connective space, and it is this crucial gap that this exhibition fails to bridge. What is interesting is not the overlapping or nesting of fields, but the questioning of how one field can address the problems of another, by and within its own means.

8:55 AM  
Anonymous rose said...

What impressed me about this show is the way it operated as an overwhelming archive. As an installed whole the work surrounded the viewer with a cacophony of seemingly conflicting reports and footage jostling for attention. With 11 monitors and their overlapping soundtracks, some effort was required to tune-in or focus on any particular monitor, and knowing of the disturbing nature of some of the site’s content, a determination of will to sit down and pay attention was also needed. It was easier not to look too closely.

This show didn’t let us get away with being a passive observer. Yes, everything re-presented is already widely available in the public domain, but it remains largely unseen by the majority. The act of seeking out alternative forms of information excluded by the most readily accessible media has almost become an act of activism. The multiplicity of realities collected together here point to the narrative nature of news and the writing of history as fiction. Within a globalised world and a globalised art world much still remains excluded or edited and therefore invisible.

2:50 PM  
Anonymous David said...

this is the same as Duchamp's toilet, no? something that is not art borught into art?

9:05 AM  
Blogger Jason said...

This show reminds me of the video monitors at ACCA for 'An Unquiet World'. I couldn't be bothered, and frankly ignored them. Staring at a PC is too much like being at work for me. In my opinion computers, however useful, have added to the dehumanisation of the workforce in the last 20 years.

I haven't watched the beheading footage and don't want to. Why is someone's murder now a readymade? The very idea is obscene.

11:53 AM  
Blogger geoff lowe said...

Jason, do you think this work is immoral in some way?

9:35 PM  
Anonymous rose said...

Jason makes an interesting comparison of this work to the recent ACCA show, maybe also all the video work in the Sydney Biennale - it's always frustrating that it is actually impossible to view those exhibitions in their entirety unless you're working as an invigilator at the gallery! Whereas most of the works on monitors in 'The Readymade in the Age of Google Economics' were short loops or still screens, which made a powerful impact even on fairly cursory viewing.

'Computers have added to the dehumanisation of the workforce'. And also, along with other media, have contributed to the dehumanisation of news and the reporting of global atrocities. I think that's partly what the artists were getting at, and reminding us of what we do routinely ignore.

6:21 AM  
Blogger Jason said...

In an obvious sense, the artist is collaborating with the terrorists by reproducing the footage as an art object (as a readymade thanks to Duchamp). If the terrorist act is immoral, so is the artist's.

I assume the point is to show that the media (in this case Google) itself actually creates terrorism by making it possible as a mass image, and that its reality is somehow only 'virtual'.

The unintended irony is that the artist in this case is unable to escape his own analysis. He is also a willing participant in the reproduction of evil.

I suspect the artist naively assumes that defining the work as a 'readymade' is somehow a way to achieve a superior critical (perhaps moral) stance vis a vis this media proliferation of images. But this is naive because the readymade aesthetic is about the impossibility of an extra-aesthetic realm of value. It is the negation of the subjective.

If I'm on the right track, then all this exhibition represents is a celebration of impotence and insignificance. A mirror perhaps, of both art and life itself.

4:12 AM  
Blogger matthew Shannon said...

i dont think its a celebration of impotence. It made me think of the image of colin powell posing as a baseball player after a long negotiation over the fate of bagdad. entertainmet/news/reality/politics ? all the same these days? the trickster strikes again, moving between forms and between meanings. add zizek to the mix and we have an opening to the idea that ideology and fantasy have mutually sustainable operations on reality.

12:57 PM  
Anonymous Jemima Daly said...

Ok so, it was a while since I saw this exhibition. I wanted to put forward the point that like the War in Iraq, and associated Middle Eastern intervention, we as democratically governed people are complety unable to change the situation...castrated.
So you can't use a mouse to stop the nasty images and so on...you can't do anything to stop the chaos and gung-ho nature of your government...
Hands tied, feel uncomfortable, get used to it?

2:19 PM  

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