Title/Date: Whoosh (2020)
Author(s): Sophie Reid-Singer (clunkk) and Susan Hawkins.
Place of Publication: “New For Old” at Metro Arts (Brisbane).
Format: *made in Adobe After Effects. 3 x 4 CRT Video.
Whoosh (2020) is a video artwork which was exhibited for New for Old at Metro Arts, a gallery located currently in West End of Brisbane. The artwork was a collaboration between Susan Hawkins and myself. From two videos of the sky filmed by Hawkins below the radio towers near her sculpture studio, I created a visual narrative tracking the movements of a bird on a sunny day and a plane on a cloudy one. The video was exhibited alongside artists including Daniel McKewen and Jeron Braxton on a 4 x 3 stack of cathode-ray tube (CRT) televisions using a multi-display interface. This assemblage was the feature of the exhibition, which was curated by Kyle Weiss. In an article written by Tracey Clement for Art Guide Australia, Weisse’s intent is quoted:
He describes walking through the city over the years and finding footpaths littered with CRT televisions, then LCD flatscreens. “There was something so melancholy about these objects,” recalls Weise. “Once, no doubt, purchased with excitement; now thrown onto a rainy Melbourne street to make way for something new.”
In Hawkins and my reflection on the abandoned technology, we created a visual game of sorts by revealing panels (on-site television screens) one by one. The artwork was well-received and described by visitors to the gallery as calming.
TLDR; the cyborg in this artwork is the human-machine interplay between viewer and screen.
Imagery of cyborgs in this ‘visual game’ did not emancipate disabled peoples from the strict legal conditions imposed by the Australian Government.
However, this modal shift was a useful detour from the conventions of videogames. As I describe in Muliebrity[i], If one views panels on a comic book left-to-right and downwards, they are traveling through a narrative timeline sequentially. On a screen, different cuts of a scene are pieced together and travel spatially on a 3D spatial environment. As a point of interest, as observable in the video documentation below, technologies such as the CRT render their image line by line. Consequently, this creates a conflict when trying to film this operation with modern digital videography.
This is what Walter Benjamin described as the Angel of History in his essay On the Concept of History. It is the spectre that haunts the upgrade. Classically the cyborg in popular culture is represented as ‘better than’ [human]. The upgrade in this case promotes a deluded consumer myth of unachievable idealism, which I have argued has had a negative impetus on disabled peoples. This artwork, in line with the theme of the exhibition as a whole, asks its audience to consider the symbolic potential of these supposedly ‘obsolete’ technologies.