Single Channel Videos:
Newsweek, Paris | Le Soir, Barcelona | Courrier, Barcelona | Daily Telegraph, New York | US News, New York | Herald Tribune, Rotterdam | Arabic Times, London | Guardian, New York
Single Channel Videos:
Everyone can be an actor, as members of Big Brother can attest. Plucked from obscurity and with little training they take center stage to become themselves. Is Big Brother simply a reflection of televisual culture's need to observe itself through the gaze of a mediated third person vantage point? In other words has Big Brother invented a new type of subjectivity that requires even its’ so called reality to be mediated and is the program an apparatus that allows our culture to reflect upon itself in new ways that match the current sociologic, political, economic, artistic, spiritual, and psychological conditions that embrace us? In Earthling, the notion of acting as genealogy is folded into a set of coevolving immaterial conditions to produce new forms of subjectivity. The photograph adorning the front page is itself a mark of certain conceits that reflect the local ecology of that particular magazine itself, whether fashion or news magazine, and the molar global discourse in which they operate. (In this way its connection to Pop Art is obvious.) That discourse is subject to both synchronous and diachronous relations. These images reflect historical conditions of how the body/face is positioned, adorned, imaged and imagined through time. It is the remnant of an acting scenario that is part of the photo shoot itself; many photographers direct their models and many politicians are rehearsed in front of cameras before addressing the public. The studio of the 19th century with its slow films and large cameras has given way to fast cameras, synchronized flashes, and digital technology. These conditions are reflected not only in the pictorial archive in a genealogy of body image and close-up facial poses but reflects in the way people actually look and act in the real world. These images then become collaged onto the living breathing actor, which inhabits the café where the pictures are taken. In Earthling an improvisational relational paradigm constitutes the overall context in which the photographic action takes place. The image archive as it is constituted outside the institutional network of say, for instance, libraries, exists on its own at newsstands, the back rooms of antique shops and the tables of cafés ready to be sampled. I collected newspapers and magazines for about a year keeping my eyes open for funny and ironic headlines, strange photographs and collages of image and text. In collecting, I tried to find newspapers and magazines from as many countries as I could. Many times this required buying them in other cities that I was working in or being a tourist. After a while I began to visit cafes and ask people relaxing there if they would like to be an actor in my photographic and video work. (I asked individuals who were very different from those appearing on the cover or front page for instance in Newsweek/Paris I asked a woman if she would be the actor.) Many said no but some said yes. When they agreed I measured the size of their eye or the distance between their eyes. Then I cut out the eye in the newspaper or magazine to match. This resulted in a perfect alignment between the optical axis of the actor and the newspaper, which became more like a mask. The actor was then asked to wear the cover as a mask and improvise in a way that reflected his or her relation to the image that now covered his or her face. Sometimes direction was necessary at other times it was not. Given the opportunity these amateur actors became the faces that covered their face. First, I took a photograph and then I made the video. The photographic documentation of the performances in the cafes created a body of work called Earthling. The title refers to the way different forms of media were instrumental in producing new subjectivities in the context of evolving global identities. Each Earthling video represents small sections of larger looped videos. The time of each video has been cut to one minute here for presentation purposes, but in reality, the length is different in each and is determined by how long the actor was able to hold the newspaper in place without tiring. They represent, metaphorically speaking, an alphabet of possible videos that might be displayed together on one, two, three or even ten separate Hantarax video cubes. These are set at different places in the space and the viewer is meant to move through that space. Each video contains a sound track of the ambient sound of the café in which it was made that sometimes includes foreign languages or music. The sound levels of the video are meant to be high enough for the viewer to hear them but not to loud to influence the other sounds coming from the other monitor.