Shells Ao poster
A letter to capitalism
What is wrong? why are you so destructive?
You were a system invented to enhance production efficiency and it’s likely the initial rationale for bringing you into being was to benefit the wider community and make items accessible to more people. What was born alongside you was consumerism and this has been exploited by advertising psychology to generate massive profits from the average people. these are the people who want things to be fair and equal and have the same rights and privilege as the rich folk
The other insidious entity that has arisen alongside consumerism is the corporate ideology who seem to amass a disproportionate amount of power over society and governments and the environment.
It seems you were a seed that was planted but you grew into an unpredictable monstrous creature and from you sprung other insidious offshoots. Is this your fault?
But you are purely a human invention – made possible by the collective consciousness of the human psyche. Almost the entire world population of humans accept you as their reality – you’re a type of god or deity really. I’m sure that wasn’t what you set you to achieve but it’s the reality we all navigate within now. And it’s making us unwell.
Can you help? Can you change?
Is it possible you went mad because of the confusing and conflicting demands that have been placed upon you?
Many people thought you could make life fairer and easier for the average working person. Others used you to maximise profit and generate wealth, thus manifesting stark socio-economic disparity between people. This gap is growing wider and equality now seems like a distant phenomenon.
Is it your fault?
Is the fault of this greedy folk who drove you to serve their purpose?
How can we make you more beautiful? How can we help?
You seem angry, destructive, negative but I can also see how you can benefit society if you’re used in the correct way. Once capitalism was a model used in working-class factories and profits were shared equally between all workers. This didn’t last long because those who owned the factories felt they were due more profit. If things were kept fair and equal, perhaps, you, capitalism, would function in a healthier way and feel happier in yourself – that you’re put to work to enhance the quality of life for everyone.
It seems capitalism, you have made the vast majority of people very unhappy and caused a great deal of mental health issues, you must feel terrible about this. Surely you have a heart? You’re dominated by highly negative aspect of a masculine sensibility – let the feminine in. soften, listen, be gentle, help the underprivileged. Be a bit more like communism or socialism, maybe?
a sound piece I developed
work developed in Back Lane West March 2019
Maintenance. Part of the performative aspect dealt with an idea of activating the work and space by moving between the various ‘platforms’ or subsections/elements of the work.
Fixing, moving, playing, boredom, working, typing, talking, finding, subversive hidden/secret recordings or transmissions.
Perhaps the message was too subtle – the cohesion between elements wasn’t clear enough and there wasn’t a hierarchy set up that led the viewer to experience each aspect to build a narrative .. all pieces were laid bare, in the space to be encountered randomly – non-didactic. The control element was deliberately omitted but perhaps this didn’t serve the work to the best capacity.
I sensed a performative element was required anyway, either through speech or by moving between the displays, playing and activating the elements. I had initially planned to film myself interacting with the devices and playing this within the space as an invitation/initiation to the audience to also interact.
The product? Not yet? The CONSEQUENCE, recorded, trapped or documented? Then processed and assimilated. During processing something changes, neutralisation of the irritant (harm?) to homogenisation, made to a form that’s ‘pleasing’ (conform) to commodity to consumerism. All the while feeding into a system or weird machinery that demands all of our complicity and compliance and participation.
Don’t participate- means you wander between systems and structures with anchorage? Nomad? Stateless?
The vortex TV screen with the pearl skins worked well – the idea that a product, a raw material is on the way to the unknown, a change, caught up on some inevitable spiral, down.
The pink, hammy pearl skin and the green-blue pearl skin.. aims to convey a sense of artificial, changed, modified versions of the original to something closer to non-natural, and is that ok? Better or more acceptable to use/exploit? Because it’s been (genetically) enhanced? The kids said the green skin is poisoned.
Will we assume that of future genetically bred creatures -humans/cyborgs? That they can be exploited with impunity? Like the TV show ‘Humans’ ‘or ‘West World’?
The white panel – was meant to suggest a false purity or rightness – a less visible or seamless structure with its surroundings – trying not to be noticed as much.
The hidden sound box – a transmission, a broadcast, a secret, subversive, radical information.
The greeny blue mirror is meant to seem alien (alternative to a black mirror?) with a red string on a red stool – animalistic/anamorphic with trapped butterflies. For me, a butterfly could represent the artist, the freedom, transience, risk, vulnerability, pupation, metamorphoses, a reminder to those who see them, to be awake, light and free.
The low-fi cardboard box implies packaging, storage, missable, non-assuming, rough, basic, DIY, ad-hoc, shoddy and makeshift. It represents resistance, the message, the reminder, the hope – hiding in plain sight.
The TV/Assimilate video. An irritant, a warning but also a sort of subversive broadcast, cynical, dark, but also perceived as normal, the every day – we could miss the seriousness of the content as it sounds (the voice) so soothing and inoffensive, gentle, coercive.
I also like the video when it’s silent, more punctuation is probably a good idea. Silent bird murmuration works nicely, but with interventions of radio sounds.. it looks like a poor version of a slick new programme report with multiple shots at once, a cheap, quick way to convey as much info as possible, crammed in and condensed. Nature, biological, viral, bacterial, immune response, neutralise, sinister, swarm, mass that can overwhelm, be powerful, could be good or bad, but it’s a force – or a positive indication of change, the power of collectivism. The cells take over the space at the end.. as f bacteria will survive humans and space rocks will survive all life on earth. The coloured murmuration footage vs the black and white? Different versions of an event. Different ways of seeing, is the colour more hopeful? Is the BW scarier? like when I switch to colour for the macrophages – suggests a shift to positivity. The native Americans remain BW – that’s sinister for sure. The space rock in the background, an unseen presence, high above, circulating. An overseer? An overlord? God?! Or Dr Kaos.
The work feels quite strong. It has something, but it’s still a little vague, or inconsistent, the viewer needs some anchoring points, some help with a way into the work. The book helps, the performance helped, the narration/reading from the book complimented the space well. It competed with the voice from the TV – the banal automated voice vs a human voice, a real voice, a real person.
The content will possibly need to change in here.. or the text may work? I may have to hinge different sections together.. not sure yet. I quite enjoyed hiding behind the (wall) cupboard and setting off the work, rolling pearls through the tubes, making noises, flashing lights, typing on a noisy typewriter, throwing the rejects out sliding out content on a wooden plate, dragging it back. That aspect reminded me of Mika Rottenberg’s videos with objects and items moving between rooms/realities. (Squeeze).
The feather and butterflies fit if I’m trying to question consumerism more directly or colonialism plunderage. The butterfly is the artist but it’s a representation. It doesn’t need to be labelled. The butterfly wing in the resistance box can convey a sense of trapped freedom (oxymoron).
The circular spinning bowl plate fits with the vortex imagery, and the pearl game suggests indifference, irreverence to the seriousness that is being suggested. As well as the weird ‘work’ performance, working for the man, conforming to things, making things go to certain places. Controlling, being complicit albeit reluctantly.
I like the drawing, especially the concept. The idea that the centre is history, that it can be smudged and made less readable as time passes and more layers are added. Adding the tree ring section shape and rupture add to this sense of a want to intervene or rupture the present. As Donna Haraway puts it, a way to seek alternative, imagine something other, sci-fi visions, suggest new, alien narratives (language?) it’s also in line with Simon Clarke’s ideas about looking for alternative, existing between spaces, operating covertly (or not) to irritate, bird shit on pristine objects of desire. Point out the emptiness, suggest other ways.
Post-apocalyptic post-capitalist futures imagined. A reconstruction of the past as imagined by the future. Never going to be accurate. Snippets. Windows.
Text retrieved post information viral wars. Transmitted relayed by space-time capsule Oumuamua. Text – was a feminine response to capitalism. A letter to capitalism. Did it save us? Did it make any difference? An odd externalisation of an internal mind world. Asylum like – An isolated, lonely figure, trying to establish a mind soothing routine from confusion and chaos or bleakness.
Soylent Green (is people) pearls are people. Blade Runner dystopias and hierarchies. The work is disturbingly psychological. Louise Bourgeois’s Cells series. Joseph Beuys conceptual scrawls on a chalkboard. A shamanic element to the work? (JL).
irritants art and pearls
My second semester has involved in-depth exploration of themes and concerns that arose through writing my dissertation. I’m currently developing and visually researching my concept relating artificial pearl cultivation as a metaphorical model to describe aspects of the capitalist hegemony.
The diagram below was my first attempt to visually convey how I imagine the pearl-producing mollusc (or oyster) could be put to work or behave in a similar way to the hegemony with their neutralisation of a potential irritant or challenge.