liverpool biennial independents 2004

Independent Districtindependent dist Georgian Quartergeorgian quarter City Centralcity central Docklandsdocklands Artistsartists

Archived 2008, another new folder

  Feeding the 5000  

Feed the 5000
Biennial opening night
Independent District


  Dave White, Liverpool Biennial 2004  

Dave White
Independent District
Liverpool Biennial 2004


  Gillian Davis, Babycream  

Gillian Davis
Liverpool Biennial 2004


  One of Daisy Delaney's 'Thousand Windmills'  

Daisy Delaney
A thousand windmills
Liverpool Biennial 2004


  The Transparent Eyeball  

White Diamond
The Transparent Eyeball
Liverpool Biennial 2004


  Detail from Scott Jones's album cover for Deltasonic's The Zutons  

Scott Jones
Liverpool Biennial 2004


  Maurice Cockrill  

Maurice Cockrill
Liverpool Biennial 2004


  Super Mario Clouds by Cory Arcangel  

Cory Arcangel
White Diamond
Liverpool Biennial 2004


  Cabin Pressure at the Cabin Club  

Cabin Pressure
The Cabin Club
Liverpool Biennial 2002


  Work by Nicki McCubbing  

Nicki McCubbing
Novas Warehouse
Liverpool Biennial 2004


  Detail from 'After the Banquet' by Jane Hughes  

Jane Hughes
Myrtle Group
Liverpool Biennial 2004

  Transparent Eyeball

Kendra Gaeta

Transparent Eyeball

Independent District

55 New Bird Street


Film programme curated by Kendra Gaeta

Capitalizing on appropriated or recontextualized media and technological exploration, there is a emerging vein of video art encouraging us to examine our relationship to culture and the changing nature of this dynamic. This moment finds itself closely rooted alongside historic works by artists like Nam June Paik, whose work considers form and culture at large over empathetic bridge-building and individual experience. The artists have come of age in 1980's America, a time that ushered in a total informational revolution, and they have crossed a threshold. They were the last generation to see both sides, and the first to totally adopt. Using popular culture as the reference point, their work animates the subjectivity of a generation growing up fueled by technological development and the hyper-speed of the culture industry.

The work is marked by a cultivated sense of self-awareness and cultural savvy. Paul Slocum's Combat references a whole era with the simple color palette and familiar block-style images created by his homemade Atari video synthesizer. Formally and aesthetically derived straight from popular culture and (dated) technological advent, the HTML characters dancing across the screen in Paper Rad's Welcome to My Homepage are lifted straight from the sides of sugar-cereal boxes and Saturday morning cartoons. This type of work suggests a kind of cultural foreshadowing, the generational trajectory between the Atari Age and the Internet Era, using language that we're likely to remember firsthand. It's far less social critique than party from Grade 5, and this is exactly the point.

The past 30 years have seen technological growing pains perhaps not rivaled since the industrial revolution. Was ever one step taken that didn¹t ripple out into 15,000 embarrassing bad-idea variations? Found footage time capsules, such as Kent Lambert's Gaijin and Rebekah Rutkoff's 3 Point Perspective aren't just reminders of awkward moments in-between, they are embodiments of imperfect models. Ruthkoff's video, a dance routine from a mid-80's high school talent show, is breaking down into 8mm video degeneration at a speed almost as remarkable as the outfit, hair, and hightops combination of its subject. The video remains unedited, as she found it, the mark of time imposed by cultural distance as much as the technological break-down. And though there are other ties to my personal timeline, from the moment a short clip of the TV show Mr. Belvedere invades Kent Lambert's birthday party footage, Gaijin will always reverberate (for me) with Friday nights at home in, yes, Grade 5.

These messengers from the past come fully loaded. The out-moded images and obsolete machines encourage us to examine the cultural trial and error, linking our selves now to our selves then in the very parlance of the past. It's a matter of perspective that the hyper-speed of technology and consumption rarely affords us and an appropriation of the tools we¹ve inherited: our popular culture backdrop and its means of communication. Private_Eyez.mid uses the familiar song from the 80's, but a midi version. An 80's spin on an 80's favorite. It sounds like video games and radio rock meets Radio Shack, and with just visuals of hand-claps, it looks like a minimalist version the over-literal videos of the era. There¹s no major statement, except how the juxtoposition plays out: the midi, the pop song, and videos from that time are ubiquitous enough so that those even mildly exposed to culture of the 80's can process the disconnect and playful intention.

Kelly Oliver's Niche and Abbey Williams' Moon in Gemini approach a more personal idea of the historic narrative. Niche pools from the quintessentially suburban, using quick references as reminders of what that collective vision solidly is. An empty home, with only traces of people, examines the changing nature of suburbia, a shift toward containment and domestic anxiety. Williams' video, which started out as a 3-walled installation, is the most personal story of any of these. It's a dramatization of desire and the condition that keeps searching for the unattainable. The perfect (seeming) boyfriend will kiss you in public and display his affections. It will look 'believable'. If you sing for him, he may find you. But given the imperfections of real life and the desperation of pop music, the fantasy you're afforded by sitting back and watching ultimately seems far sexier. It is the reality and discordance from idealized versions that makes both videos so lonely-feeling. The (in)ability to find perfection is less critique than internalization of very social notions.

The precision flawlessness informing our social ideals is a fragile illusion. Its rigidity conditions us to detect the slightest deviation, making it perfect for the kind of appropriation in The Manipulators by Andrew Jeffrey Wright and Clare Rojas. Animated models from the pages of fashion magazines physically waste away or grow hairy, get pimples and reveal their inner thoughts. The work is far from subtle or slight, and its off-handed vandal style humor takes off in opposition to the earnestness of those pages. That it would be so easy to hijack the beautiful with words like 'hump' and 'dong', the glamorous with hand-drawn mustachios, and the chic with debased potty humor is comforting. It's a warning, of sorts, for the buyer to beware, and of the dangers of simply taking what is given. And an invitation to take these things on with simple means. Bryan Boyce's 30 Seconds Hate seems likewise an act of vandalism provoked. The tag line to his video is 'Fox News and Henry Kissinger want to kill you', and he's reedited an entire interview with the former Secretary of State, word by word, until his exact words proclaim war on 'all happy people'.

The Manipulators and 30 Seconds Hate are clever responses to the one-way valve of culture and politics, and the perspective they provide disrupts the auto-reactions, delivering the audience to where the media cuts. How the original and appropriated versions compare are very much the intentions of Dara Greenwald's Strategic Cyber Defense, Jim Finn's Decision 80, and Bryan Boyce's 30 Seconds Hate. All three are video recuts, but each references the original in very different ways.

Strategic Cyber Defense is a re-edited version of a DARPA (US Department of Defense organization) training video. The reinactment includes an 'imaginary' enemy, Kurac, located on the map in the same spot as its real life soundalike. Our enemies employ sinister gazes while our boys outsmart them from behind tech heavy switchboards. Greenwald's edit capitalizes on the ridiculousness of DARPA's Bizarro World construction and failed Hollywood caricatures of 'villain' and 'hero', while humor serves as the way-out while we process the fact that this is no joke.

Finn's video Decision 80 presents another no-joke scenario. During the 1980 Democratic National Convention, Jimmy Carter addressed a nation at a crossroads. 'If you succumb to a dream world, you'll wake up to a nightmare', he warned, and as fate would have it, the Republicans would take the White House. Finn's contrast of foreboding convention footage to Reagan's inaugural fanfare remembers a nation at the beginning of a new age, just entering the dream world. Presenting this moment as the end of one era and the beginning of another begins the historical what-if game. This analysis, perfectly timed for a current events comparison, confronts ideas of cultural amnesia, who decides what can stay or go, and how important it is we take an active role in steering through the past and the present.

Those who write history become the gatekeepers of our collective memory, and whatever we have beyond that is a more personal type of marking stick. In the scheme of humanity we hope to recognize the story of our own generation and be distinguished from whatever came before and whatever will come after. That it would appear nostalgic is logical. That we can all relate to it is cultural. It's a form of analysis that begins to close the gap between remembering and replacing.


Artists represented at White Diamond:

Cory Arcangel
Peter Coffin
Ara Peterson
Paper Rad
Lauren Cornell
Astria Suparak
Kendra Gaeta
Michael Connor
Meredith Danluck
Amy Globus

Jeremy Laing
Will Munro
Rohesia Hamilton
Chadwick Rantanen
Seth Price
Scott Thomas
Gerard Holthuis
Saki Satom
Paul Slocum
Kent Lambert
Rebekah Rutkoff
Kelly Oliver
Abbey Williams
Andrew Jeffrey Wright
Clare Rojas
Bryan Boyce
Dara Greenwald
Jim Finn


Archived February 2008, another new folder