This really has been a tough year or so, the old money or the gun question…but having profited from the hallucinations of my cultural capitalist overlords, I can come back to this more or less intact…and let’s talk about those contemporary art goons later…
The Venice Biennale, hmm, well it pretty much looked like every other biennale I’ve seen since 1997, but I was vaguely interested because of the Jung, the utopian and the outsider. But as usual what I really enjoyed was Venice itself and kind of hanging out there, wandering in and out of art stuff in a rather mindless way. Whilst there were a few good things, the graffiti done by other visitors was the most entertaining and further to that I enjoyed watching people, who I presume are artists of one kind or another, undertaking personal projects whilst they were there. For example, a girl who was doing some time lapse photography of herself near the billionaire super yachts with their dedicated exclusion zones etc (very current of course), or some middle aged ladies wearing matching op-art dresses (and kinda reminding me of Eva and Adele, but without the drag) who asked me to photograph them for their art project. That all got me thinking that, rather than the usual curatorial “position” (scaled on the crap-o-meter), it would be great to gather up all of these artist/visitor projects and make a biennale about that…ah like all good ideas its time will come, or at least some turd will read this and nick it. (I’ll talk about my “friends” at the Kunsthalle in another post…)
….this is where I’ve been this year…….
This is an image from The Cyberama Gestalt, a video/photography project I made in 1993. I was reading a lot of Cyberpunk and related sci-fi at the time and was very influenced by Philip K Dick’s fantastic novel, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch. The relationships of stimuli inducing materiality (ersatz, virtual, apparent), consumption and drugs questions the very nature of reality in this story from 1964, in which forced colonisation from a rapidly overheating earth leads the colonists into drug induced escapist fantasies. Initially they use a toy-like layout in order to stabalise their transubstantive translation into the hedonistic and ideal virtual world (USA 1960’s) of Perky Pat and her boyfriend, Walt. The colonists are constantly updating their layouts with the latest “fash”, expensive minitures which supplement and elevate their virtual reality experience.
One has to ask the question as to whether this is an extremely sentient articulation of what was to come. We too are trapped to some extent within our self contained masturbatory units, over-consuming trinkets in a vain attempt to provide our increasingly virtual existence some sort of materiality/meaning. We too, by the nature of the financial system, are stuck in a consumereality; an infinite loop of consumption that, because of its mathematical impossibility, must move into the virtual and that takes a conscious effort to escape from, or at least control. In the story, Palmer Eldritch returns from a deep space journey with an alternative drug which apparently frees users from the restrictions of Perky Pat’s domain and allows a god-like creativity….(no spoiler)….
This work was originally made with video and then photographed direct from screen and forms part of a series of works done along these lines and with similar themes. I’ll be posting more from time to time and discussing the ideas that still, I think, hold a genuine resonance.
(From a series of bubble gum/collector cards Wrestling with his Consciousness, 1994. Made for John Aslanidis‘, No Holds Barred extravaganza at Airspace in Sydney.)