Curated by Brunno Silva
Opening Event: July 3, 7-9 PM
Porto Vista Hotel, 1835 Columbia Street
Exhibition on view at 1805 Gallery: July 4 - August 11, 2019
1805 Gallery, 1805 Columbia Street
Reflection, when it is a case of mirroring, is a move toward an external symmetry; while reflexiveness is a strategy to achieve a radical asymmetry, from within.
Rosalind Krauss, 1976.
The digital world, in a manner of speaking, is a world that the humans have coated over with their own retina. This humanly networked world produces a permanent self-mirroring. The closer the net is woven, the more thoroughly the world shields itself against the other, the outside. The digital retina turns the world into a screen-and-control monitor. Inside this autoerotic visual space, in this digital inwardness there can be no sense of wonder. The only thing human beings still like are themselves.
Han, Byung-Chul, 2015
Parallel Screens is a group exhibition that presents moving image artworks in a continuum duration scheme where artworks are screened one after the other for the duration of the exhibition: 120 minutes. Once finished the circle re-starts and the exhibition is exhibited again and again. The screening occurs through a two video, one audio channel circuit where the TV screens are in parallel position, facing each other.
The general idea of moving images is ingrained in everyday life, with rapid technological development, such as the rise of 5G wireless, there is an almost infinitute of content in a multitude of subjects. TV and internet content are now mixed, for example with YouTube offering TV packages and traditional channels relying on internet streamings to understand consumer habits further and develop tailored entertainment.
In the early years of the internet image resolution was lower so it could travel faster, as highlighted by Hito Steyerl in her 2009’s seminal essay “In Defense of the Poor Image”:
In this light, perhaps one has to redefine the value of the image, or, more precisely, to create a new perspective for it. Apart from resolution and exchange value, one might imagine another form of value defined by velocity, intensity, and spread. Poor images are poor because they are heavily compressed and travel quickly. They lose matter and gain speed. But they also express a condition of dematerialization, shared not only with the legacy of conceptual art but above all with contemporary modes of semiotic production.
Perhaps we are now facing a second moment, where the poor image becomes less poor and boundaries between agents in visual communication are lessing. Also, with the exponential increase of content the audience becomes lethargic, unable to understand or navigate these never-ending materials.
If the moving image is accessible, diffuse and varied, how have these developments impacted human visual literacy? How has the understanding of the moving image influenced or found parallels in photography, television and cinema? And whilst considering other media, is there any necessary differentiation in comparison with its art savvy counterparts? For example Installation art, experimental photography, expanded cinema, etc. That although not altogether dissimilated from pop culture references and intersections, still very much persist in a different realm of visual criticism.
In this current ecology of the moving image, Parallel Screen’s format creates a situation that visitors are unfamiliar with: being posited between the two screens they need to develop their own forms of negotiating attention among the two sources and explore singular narrative construction, that we have become accustomed to. For the artworks, there is a certain permanence, here the screens - by facing one another - are in perpetual dialogue in an almost self sufficient format. The viewer takes the form of an intruder or a voyeur into this autonomous game where the content does not succumb and instead lures the audience into its own worlds.
In resonance with this open position, Parallel Screens is a non thematic exhibition, and if anything recognises the importance of reflection and reflexiveness inevitably presence in the interactions between artwork & viewer, artwork & screen and screen & viewer. Therefore accepting contingent positions of all involved and ever expanding intellectual possibilities of all three parties. As stated by Ed Atkins:
I’ve often felt betrayed by the group show thematic, because my work inevitably becomes bound up with the show’s theme as a result. I mean this specifically in relation to tacit violences of intellectual or affective co-option. A work’s recruitment to the accord of a group show’s overarching theme results in its retardation.
This radical position is useful in this context to strip away the imposed aesthetic and political ideas onto the medium, a freedom that hopefully will liberate the moving image to be whatever it wants to be and can be to the artist and the viewer.
Before we accelerate into the future, let’s pause and watch how the moving image manifests itself in artistic production and how this array of artists tackle the difficult task to mesmerise the frantic viewer.