Author: Ricardo Dominguez --- Date: 09/23/96 --- Copyright: ThingReviews NYC


by Ricardo Dominguez

Recombinant culture is in a fractured state that oscillates between spew and blockage, chaos and control, screen and flesh--and all of this while you lounge, recline and drink yourself into a fine stupor. The crowd at the Void seemed to be in an frozen frenzy as each of the works played themselves out. 'Not from Concentrate' by Robert Attanasio played at the edge of racism and commodity that the OJ trial has brought to the foreground with a hyperbeat the crowd could really dance with. But, one must ask if this type of reprocessing of the event is too simple when faced with the complexity of the issues that the trial created. Perhaps Attanasio could have avoided straying into the seductive surface of screenal racism by reframing OJ with a specific counter-context, such as the media (white)out of the Mumia trial. Why did one case become the nexus of entertainment while the other did not?

The beat of black culture under the electronic gaze was also archived by the performance that followed, Ursula Endlicher's 'Hot Voodoo,' which again played within the state of emergency that black culture as representation finds itself in during the midpoint of the 90's. Endlicher's performance criss-crossed the issue by twisting it beyond itself and by interjecting into the old black and white filmic outtakes of jungle drums, grass skirts, and undulating dancers--the real bodies of a cuttie transvestite and a dancing gorilla which then tranformed itself into Popeye the Sailorman--who then sang 'Hot Voodoo.' Endlicher's use of cartoon colonialism to subvert the history of electronic racism played at the edge of critique and reinvention--without falling to either side easily. The tension was pushed to the limit with a spin that is unique to Endlicher's performative approach.

Click to view quicktime movie

The state of emergency that opened with these two works was followed by 'Return to Rescueworld' by Torsten Z.Burns and Anthony Discenza. A video work that digs deep into our postcontemporary desire to be saved from our selves, our surroundings, and our technology. The video creates a world which is in a constant hyperstate of simple disasters, such as openning a car door and falling out onto a wet lawn, slipping into a tiny plastic pool, or tripping on a crack in the sidewalk--in this world everyone is always dressed for accidents to happen and always/already waiting to help. Like the return of TV's most repressed rerun this work calls out the incessant need of screenal culture to reenact its dream of being on TV's 911 type shows and having our lives saved before our own gaze. This video should become extremely popular, it should become it's own 24hr channel--we have the need, we have the castastrophes, and we can all use the safety tips.

Under the state of emergency the virtual community seeks transendence by looking into chaos and a tempting to morph with it--a sympton of the our fractal drive. 'In contemplation of Chaos: As is it is Above so it shall be Below'by Marjan Moghaddam and music by Lefferts Brown is a hypereal mantra for those digi-souls who need a little comfort with their frenzy. While this work offers us temporary redemtion from the world wide accident we find ourselves in--it did not offer anything more. Like high modernist aesthetics it wraps itself in a caccoon of faith that beauty in-itself will overcome the problems of our current state.

Ricardo Dominguez

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