The spectacle: reenactment of a still-life
Installation (glass cube 50x50x80cm, Ipad, wooden cabinet, 2 headphones, pc, webcam)
“There are stories...”, Ghent (BE) 2013
The installation is based in a darkened room measuring approximately 5 by 5 metres. One enters through a curtain and discovers a minimal source of light, coming from a small screen. The screen is placed on a wooden cabinet inside a glass display case. It reflects into the multiple sides of the glass and when moving around several identical images are visible. The screen presents an image of a simple still life, consisting of an old orange teapot and two blue-greenish glass cups, one placed into the other. At first sight it is not clear wether it is a still image or a video, but upon closer examination shadows can be seen vibrating slightly and the picure becomes pixelated and sharp again the next moment.
On the wall two headphones, hanging on a hook. The visitor can take one of them and wear it while walking around. A male voice sounds alternating with a womans voice pronouncing the following words : ordinary, unimportant, neglected, overlooked, not beautiful, not sublime, not wonderful, not astonishing, not remarkable in any obvious way, accidental, not deliberate, not planned, not lost, not forgotten, desired, sublime, beautiful, valued, aesthetic, produced, consumed, exchanged, given, taken, symbolic, feared, hated, good, bad, lost, vanishing.*
The first half defines the found object and the second half describes the deliberate or chosen object.
A text at the entrance of the exhibition space states that it is in fact a live-stream being shown and provides a link to visit the stream. For the duration of the exhibition this videostream is online 24h/d and is filmed by a webcam situated in the livingroom of the artist.
Three main motives are at the base of this work.
First, as other recent works, it originates from a fascination for the Dutch still life of the 17th & 18th century. This genre in painting can be seen as a reflection on the use of images and on the relation towards everyday objects and society. An analogy with present time arises. The development of the genre of the still life happened in a time of big shifts and progress in society, kickstarted by increasing urbanisation, scientific inventions, globalization. Interesting are the chosen objects and the way they were depicted. Also remarkable was the big production of these paintings, that could be found in nearly all households.
A second motive is the incorporated use of the webcam in modern communication. Presently the largest part of the world makes use of this technology, wether by way of video-calls, security cameras broadcasting or applications like a baby-phone, it is part of a common way of interaction or depiction. What effect does this medium have on the perception of reality and the image?
Thirdly the apprehension of the found object. How do we approach or classify the deliberate or the coincidental, the chosen or the common.