“I’ve lived my whole adult life talking about my life. I’ve lived in front of cameras. And maybe I’ll die in front of them.” —Quote taken from reality television superstar Jade Goody on her deathbed
“And therefore whatever appears on the television screen emerges as raw experience for those who watch it.” —Brian O’Blivion in Videodrome
AUTOCENTER is pleased to present the exhibition “Videodrome”. Using Director David Cronenberg’s cult classic as a point of departure, the exhibition examines the relationship between spectator and spectacle, simulated realities, the condition of secondhand experiences in contemporary living, hardcore sex, snuff, virtual selves, cultural mash-ups, historical cut-ups, human slips and so on.
Upon its release in 1983, Videodrome was a prescient dissection of how the mediated experience of TV — particularly reality TV — would become a learning device towards grooming ritual and daily practice. In turn, reality television’s voracious approach to serializing every waking moment of human experience, no matter how absurd or inane, has made any one of us into an unwitting participant of The Truman Show. This reached an existential crescendo in spring 2009 with the late Jade Goody, reality TV’s recent martyr. As a symbol Goody is an uncanny doppelganger to Videodrome’s Brian O’Blivion, Cronenberg’s stand-in for Marshall McLuhan, who states repeatedly how “the television screen is the retina of the mind’s eye”. Much like O’Blivion’s fate, Goody’s cancer-stricken body, under the bludgeoning scrutiny of the video camera, was dematerialized into a pulp of television snow the moment she expired.
With the advancement of home cinemas such as VHS, Betamax and Video2000, a sudden and unknowable surplus of films and visual information was generated. Immediately the result was lifetimes of imagery that no one will ever see. After the birth of the video store, this condition reached hyperbole with the advent of user-generated content. This codex of tireless image production influences much of who we are and what we are composed of as social beings.
In Michel de Certeau’s seminal book The Practice of Everyday Life from 1984, he pinpoints behavioral strategies of contemporary man as a way to make us, the reader and ultimately the subject, become more self-reflexive about our procedures for social engagement, leisure and personal economy. One key concept is la perruque or “the wig,” a French expression that references the way people figuratively wear an outfit or disguise to make viewers believe that what they are seeing is what they think it is. Forms of posturing or “imposturing” create a slippage between real, projected and now televised selves in an attempt to maintain expectations from daily behaviors for the experience of the viewer.
From a point of posturing based on projection, this blurring of self is reminiscent of 60s experimental filmmaker Jack Smith’s loosely directed productions and the notion of the “human slip”. Smith’s films capture awkward moments wherein actors sit in front of the camera attempting to posture according to their mind’s eye and Jack’s supposed expectations for “being” an unknowable and unscripted character. The outcome is a teetering between this caricatured idea and sudden moments of self-realization, the in-between liminal state acting as this moment of slippage.
The works in Videodrome come together to make an ouroboratic machine massaged by the medium it mimics. Reproductions of popular culture are done through its self, asexually. We witness sublimation as a means of mimicry. The outcome is a subliminal camouflage that, by referencing the reference of a reference, eventually becomes some uncut simulacric compound.
Image and icon production has reached a point of being completely scrambled in terms of sequences of realization and consumption. The results are parallel, simulated or even parasite realities each with their own version and mash-up to boot eliciting an unquieting collision of festering ambivalence and derealization. In terms of cultural production the tendency might be described as “Karaoke Conceptualism” which manifests as a form that is both conceptual and physical, offers a mouthpiece for discourse, and like some form of dementia allows us to repeat histories of any kind without risk or foul. In effect, Videodrome offers a kind of psychic alchemy through extraordinary rendition.
Long live the new flesh.
Eldenaer Strasse 34 a
For questions contact Aaron Moulton: email@example.com or +491721849732
Video Review of Videodrome on Artycok.tv
Interview with Aaron Moulton about Videodrome on Art21