screaMachine solo show at Moving Image Gallery, NYCNov./Dec. 2000

Show title: screaMachine

6 works presented: 4 projected installations with performance elements; one wooden frame containing digital laser prints on acetate; one quadraphonic audio work.

The theme of the show is in reflecting the supernatural light and sounds created by mankind in structures such as a cathedral. The audio work, "Score for a Techno Cathedral", refers directly to this in its title. This 'techno cathedral' starts with a physical object shutting out the natural light and transforming it, like a stained glass window, into a supernatural colorful glow, called "City View".

"City View" consists of 10 laser prints on acetate mounted in a black wooden frame and set into the gallery window (the rest of the windows are blacked out). Digitally collaged images represent different Manhattan apartment interiors, complete with their inhabitants and their accoutrements. If you look hard, you can make out the shapes of the real city through these images. "City View takes the light and images from the city and converts it into a glowing portrait of the city; it also provides the stained glass, cathedral-like atmosphere appropriate for accompanying the next piece "Drag" which sits on the floor directly in front of "City View".

"Drag" consists of a data projection on the floor of the gallery. Prior to the performance, it shows a mock open bible, opened on the floor. The bible is between 8 and 10 feet in size, and its text is clearly legible, revealing that it is an amalgam of tracts from the real bible, all referring to sexual rules and regulations, controlling female and, to a lesser degree, male behavior. Gathered together, the texts make for a synopsis of christianity's attitude toward sexuality. During performance, the artist drags a real bible, by means of a string attached to his penis, across this image of the bible. As the real bible tracks across the image, it apears to erase the image revealing another image below. This new image is one of the artist and wife, naked against a plush red fabric background, involved in an embrace, loving but not pornographic. The artist drags the bible in an inward spiral, slowly eating away at the upper image and revealing the below until all of the 'rules's are gone and sexual happiness remains. After performance, a view of the performance in progress, shot from directly overhead, is projected on the floor and looped. The viewer sees the bible laid on the floor as before, but now sees it being erased and reappearing, only to be erased again.

Following on from "Drag"s intimacy, on the wall to the left of "City View", is a wall projection featuring a 3d image of a rotating human heart floating next to a large circle containing colorful animated sequences made from CAT and MRI scans of the artist's wife's head. The piece is titled "Without You" and, during performance, the circle is projected onto the artist's bare chest while the rotating heart is seen on the palm of his raised right hand (as if giving an oath). "Without You" is an afirmation of the artist's love for his wife by investigating the pain of the hypothetical death of her. Without her, his heart is excorporated, with the images of her death (her skull) and her personality (her brain) thaking its place in his empty chest.

"Entertainment", opposite "Without You" takes the notion that the entertainment industry and noticebly TV, has taken the place of church and religious art by being the modern conveyor of information and mythology. The installation comprises two projections, one very large (8 - 10 feet) showing soundbytes from TV (6pm - 7pm Monday evening channel surfing, condensed to 72 clips making a total of 5 minutes); the other tiny (6 inches), projected on a hanging piece of opaque white plexiglass, shows an in-sync animated variation of the TV clips. The viewer can see both at once, and hear the shared inane dialog, but has to choose which to watch. During performance, the artist replaces the plexiglass screen, sitting in a chair, watching the large tv images with the animated version projected onto the back of his shaved head. The animation shows an interpreted version of the original, complete with text commentary.

"Urban Junglism" is presented as a full wall projection (approx. 20 feet) at the end of the room. It shows a techno-society where security cameras track 'suspicious activity'. The artist is seen to grafitti the slogan "Information Divide = Class War" on a number of locations with cop vans and cars patroling the neighborhood. During performance the artist enters the space in front of the projection armed with a can of spray paint, proceeding to spray the slogan onto the projection screen.

"Score for a Techno Cathedral" ties all pieces together by borrowing sounds and audio clips from the soundtracks for each of the other pieces and combining them with other material. The result is a quadrophonic audio work where phrases, sounds and music parts ebb and flow, moving around the room or fixed in one spot. Like the vaulted chambers in cathedrals, it provides supernatural sound to the space.

All pieces reflect the theme of techno-cathedral by the use of technological light and sounds. Just as the stained glass and vaulted chambers were the hi-tech of the past, this cathedral boasts similar technological trickery without the allocation of spirituality. It proposes that this society, matured from the mythologies of the past, have latched onto the entertainment industry as its new church. While indulgent in technological advance, it also recognises the dangers of this advance as shown in "Urban Junglism" and suggests that rather than need a new deity, represented by technology, we need to be the boss and have the technology work for us. Technological advance is of little use to us if it is going to lead us to destroy the earth and subjugate all its inhabitants (including ourselves).

City View
10 laser prints (10"x16") on acetate N/A
digital data projection / performance 10 min.s

Without You
digital video projection / performance 6 min.s
2 synced dv projections / performance 6 min.s
Urban Junglism
digital video projection / performance 7.5 min.s
Score for a Techno Cathedral
quadraphonic soundtrack 15 min.s

© Gearóid Dolan, 2004. All rights reserved