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Entries in Art Reviews (5)

Wednesday
May182011

How To Make Jambalaya

Ember, Sean Healy

Just found out some people can’t eat shellfish. Holy smokes, how can that be? Without shellfish and Andouille, what does one put in the jambalaya?

The key to jambalaya is to start with the pan hot. Get way up in that med-high range.

Chop the onions, green pepper and celery together and toss in the pan with a light pour of safflower oil. (Note: If you don’t have any celery, just stop now. You ought not make jambalaya without celery; it’s just not right.)

Warm up a couple of cups of stock for about ten minutes, then add a quarter of it to the pan. Let those vegetables get soggy.

Next, cube a few links of precooked Andouille and throw them in the pan to brown and seep. After about five minutes, add more stock.

Oh, just add all the stock.

Smoke Breakers, Sean Healy

Wait a few minutes for it to boil and then lower the temperature and add a heavy half-pound of fresh, peeled, raw shrimp from Houma’s roadside stand on Plank Road. (Mr. Houma’s usually on the east side of the road, sitting in the afternoon sun under his umbrella. He keeps the best catch in the red Playmate cooler.)

Keep a tiny simmer going. This is just fancy rice flavoring now. Let it all cook for about six minutes, until the shrimp curl over and turn white and firm.

Add a cup of dry rice, lower the temp half a tick, cover and wait until it's ready.

A microscope cannot tell you what to look at. Inside a Carolina cayenne pepper is a world of cayenne pepper powder, and inside each powder, more powder and more powder.

When cayenne gets in your nose, pain rains behind your eyes and cheeks, blurring your vision the way water shoots off the roof during thunderstorms in West Scoville, Piquance Parish.

Add some cayenne powder to your jambalaya. Then add a little more.

Eat.

Photos taken at Elizabeth Leach Gallery.

Sunday
Mar132011

Bonnie & Clyde

Set in Texas, the film “Bonnie and Clyde” recreates a major event in the life cycle of plants: the transition from vegetative development to reproductive development known as “flowering time.” Both internal endogenous factors and external environmental factors initiate this transition.

Endogenous stimuli for flowering time include age and the developmental phase of the plant. The most important environmental stimulus is temperature, usually associated with a change in seasons. Other external stimuli include light quality and nutrition.

The complex interaction between those internal and external factors determine reproductive success of a plant by ensuring that the flowering process occurs when conditions are most favorable for fertilization and seed formation. Salt content of the soil matters greatly.

Although plants require salts for development and growth, the vast majority of plant species suffer ionic and osmotic stress in soils of high salinity, which include soils in coastal regions and areas where prehistoric seas have evaporated to leave residual deposits known as "salt domes."

With no less than 111 salt domes within its borders, the state of Louisiana leads the U.S. in salt production. Louisiana's domes measure as large as six miles across and four miles deep into the ground. Salt domes usually accompany rich crude oil and natural gas deposits, as well.

Bonnie and Clyde died in Louisiana in 1934 when they stopped on a rural highway to help a farmer with a flat tire. Texas police, who had hid in wait for two days, shot them more than 100 times.

The town of Gibsland in Bienville Parish—home of the massive Prothro Salt Dome—celebrates The Bonnie and Clyde Festival every year in May. An acting troupe from Texas makes the annual trip across state lines to reenact the shootings.

Tuesday
Nov302010

The Royal Road


Artist Tommy Joseph working in the Southeast Alaska Indian Cultural Center workshop at Sitka National Historic Park

Nothing Worth Doing Is Fast and Easy
When ruler Ptolemy of Alexandria, Egypt, grew bored with military conquest, he decided to learn mathematics. Ptolemy sent for the best mathematician in his kingdom, Euclid, who tried to teach the concepts of geometry and axiomatic law to the ruler.

Exasperated by the difficulty Ptolemy complained, to which Euclid famously replied, "There is no Royal Road to geometry."

The Persian Pony Express
The Royal Road first grew from a trade route into a 1600-mile highway in the fifth century B.C. It connected Greece and the Mediterranean Sea to the Persian Gulf in the east across Persia, including modern Turkey, Iraq, Iran and the Mesopotamian river valley.

Couriers took nine days on horseback or 90 days on foot to travel the Royal Road. That speed prompted Greek historian Herodotus to write, "There is nothing in the world that travels faster than these Persian couriers . Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor darkness of night prevents these couriers from completing their designated stages with utmost speed."

Herodotus'  quotation is the unofficial motto of the U.S. Postal Service.

Only Not on Weekends
The U.S. Postal Service is a government agency that lost all taxpayer funding in 1982, meaning it has since operated like a private company.

In 2009, the U.S. Postal Service lost $3.8 billion due to "the combined effects of economic recession, increased use of electronic communications, and obligations to prepay retiree health benefits." In 2010, the loss will grow to around $7 billion.

To cut costs, the Postal Service plans to eliminate all residential Saturday deliveries in 2011 and raise prices. According to the USPS's "Action Plan for The Future," even if the Postal Service achieves the savings outlined in its management plan, it will  "still face an annual loss of $15 billion in 2020 and cumulative losses of $115 Billion between now and then."

 

Where the Greeks Got Silk
The Royal Road introduced the Greeks to silk, which the Greeks thought grew on trees in the Orient. It became a cultural obsession. With greater and greater demand for silk in the West, the Greeks built bigger networks of roads farther east to China, which became known as the Silk Roads.

The Qin Dynasty (pronounced chin, the root word for the western word "China") first united Chinese lands in the third century B.C. The Qin built the Great Wall of China in part to limit access to their "civilization" by western "barbarians" along these roads.

Where the Chinese Got Gold
The Chinese coveted the superior horses of Central Asia, and trade ultimately flourished during the Han Dynasty in spite of the Great Wall.

Genghis Khan used the Golden Road as a network of posts and relay stations for his empire, which stretched from the Mediterranean to the Pacific by 1227 A.D. His grandson, Kubilai Khan, ruled China when Nicolo Polo of Venice first travelled the whole length of the Golden Road with an entourage that included his son, Marco.

Marco's written account of his 17 years in China landed him in a Venetian jail. It was dubbed "The Million Lies" by detractors.

Then the Road Ended
About 200 years later in the 15th Century, Portuguese sailors discovered a sea route to China around the Cape of Good Hope. Central Asia no longer served as the crossroads of the world. The cities of the Golden Road faded in importance. And Persian nomads turned their attention to the vast lands of interior Russia.

 

The Ovoid, U-Form and S-Form of formline art.

Meanwhile, in Coastal Alaska
The Tlingit people first came to coastal Alaska about 11,000 years ago. Pronounced "KLINK-it," their origin is unknown, though Tlingits share a vague language similarity with the Athabaskans of inland Canada. They also have a connection to the Haida tribes.

Europeans arrived in Tlingit country for the first time in 1741, when Russian naval explorer Aleksey Chirikov sent a boatload of men to land for drinking water near the site of modern Sitka, Alaska. When the group did not return for several days, Chirikov sent another boat, which also did not return.

By 1800, native Tlingit people had engaged in some trading with the Russians, and the Russians became more aggressive in attempts to colonize and control the trade. In 1802, Chief Katlian of Sitka's Kiksadi Tlingit led his warriors against the Russians, who had set up a fort in Sitka. Eventually the Russians drove the Tlingits inland in 1804 and reclaimed the fort, which they called New Archangel.

Using only New Archangel as a base of claim, the Russians sold 586,412 square miles of Alaska to the United States for $7.2 million in 1867. Tsar Alexander II needed the money. He feared losing Alaska without compensation to the British, whom the Russians had already fought a decade before in the expensive Crimean War.

In 1972, the United States established Sitka National Historical Park to commemorate the Tlingit battles with the Russians and to preserve Tlingit native totemic and mask art forms.

 

$7.2 Million Didn't Include a $23,000 Tip
In 2010, the U.S. Census Bureau commissioned artist Tommy Joseph of Sitka's Kaagwaataan Clan to carve a totem as a participation outreach effort to Native Americans, who are high-risk for being undercounted on the census.

Groups who are undercounted in a census receive a less than proportional amounts of political representation and federal funding for education, affordable housing support, job training, social services, roads, bridges and other community development opportunities.

California Representative Darrell Issa criticized the $23,100 totem pole outreach effort, calling it "the latest example of a mismanaged agency spending taxpayers' money like it grows on trees -- or totem poles.... The American people are right to be furious with a Washington that spends so recklessly, cooks the books to cover its tracks, and thinks it's a good idea to buy a $23,000 totem pole while more than 14.6 million people are unemployed."

The total budget for the census was $14.7 billion.
The totem pole cost 0.00016% of that amount, equivalent to taking one dollar out of $636,363.

Congressman Issa's fury at that dollar, and his attribution of that fury to "the American people," may have served a purpose. The census response rate in Alaska dropped to 64% -- the lowest response rate in the country and 3% lower than the previous census of 2000.

Enumeration
The census was less accurate than it could have been. The higher inaccuracy is due to a 1999 Supreme Court ruling that does not allow statistical sampling under the Census Act, instead requiring "actual enumerative" counting. Thus, in Alaska's case, only 64% of the people living in the state chose to voluntarily "enumerate" themselves.

Due to persistent mathematical deception about statistical sampling, the 2010 census was also more expensive than it needed to be by billions of dollars -- with or without the (relatively tiny) price of the totem pole. The higher expense was due to the enumerative counting requirement, not government overspending in general. The actual Census Bureau spending came in $1.6 billion under-budget for the 2010 Census.

Without the totem pole, the census still would have spent $1.6 billion less than its budget.

 

Sheldon Jackson College, where a massive chautauqua should break out.

Proofiness
Author Charles Seife says minorities, like Native Americans, bear the financial brunt of low census response rates. On page 191 of his book Proofiness:

"The moment you use sampling to correct for the undercount, you suddenly add several million more minorities -- Democrats -- into your count of the population. It's something that Republicans want to prevent so badly that they are forced to take an idiotic stance: they insist the proper way to conduct a census is the least accurate and most expensive method."

Seife adds that this isn't an ideological divide, but is, in his opinion, "a petty-minded scrabbling to gain a political advantage" that the Democrats would as readily take up were it to benefit them.

The 1999 Supreme Court decision against statistical sampling was a major victory for Republicans

Representative Darrell Issa is a Republican. He earned an ROTC scholarship and graduated with a degree in business from Sienna Heights University. ROTC means "Reserve Officers Training Corps."

Charles Seife is a journalist and professor. He holds a Masters in Science in mathematics from Yale and Masters in Journalism from Columbia. "Proofiness" means to use the language of mathematics to convince people something is true, even when it is not.

Statistical Occupation
To this day, some Native Americans refer to 1867 as the year the "the occupation rights" to Alaska were transferred. Alaska, they say, was never the Russian's to sell.

Perhaps the Russians took a census of their own, in which only residents of New Archangel registered and were counted, giving them 100% ownership of the territory.

There is no Royal Road to statistics.

 

The view from New Archangel. Who owns this from inside a fort?

The Royal Road to Big Paychecks
According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the 15 top-earning college degrees all have one thing in common: math skills.

In 2009, 87% of the highest-earning degrees were in either engineering or computer science and carried an average starting salary of over $65,000 per year.

Only 8% of college graduates earned an engineering or computer science bachelor's degree. Four times as many graduates earned bachelor's degrees in social science or history.

The highest paying bachelor's degree by far is petroleum engineering, at over $83,000 per year to start.

 

Image from Tanya Leighton Gallery, Berlin

Forever Stamp
Artist Matthew Buckingham represents complex historic matters with simple objects. Take Buckingham's 2009 piece above, "A Letter from America (to Be Posted 3 August 2027)," for example.

Written by the artist, the letter is postmarked to mail on the 500th anniversary of the earliest known letter dispatched from North America, a letter from explorer John Rut in Newfoundland to King Henry VIII in England in 1527.

Matthew Buckingham's letter includes a Forever Stamp, a postage stamp sold with no face value. The Forever Stamp is guaranteed as payment for delivery and thus to never expire.

Monday
Oct252010

Energy Effects

2010, Denver Museum of Contemporary Art

MCA Denver just showed 19 different artists’ work in an exhibit called Energy Effects: Art and Artifacts from the Landscape of Glorious Excess. Each work represented in some way how “abundant space, power, speed, effort, and time become the raw material of art and industry.”

The exhibit succeeded by contrasting the machinery of energy with a vulnerability or weakness inherent in that machine. In pieces like "Statue of Liberty," "Terrestrial Physics" and “Entre La Vida y La Muerte," machinery stands a monument to both ignorance and greatness, with fallible undertones.

The most striking piece in the exhibit, a video titled "Aranjuez," shows a different kind of energy, one made possible only by the mass mindset of a drunken crowd, where the "glorious" excess manifests in a form most debased and dehumanizing.

 

In the Eye of a Needle: Freedom
Willard Wigan’s “Statue of Liberty” stands in direct opposition to the idea of abundant space. It's a sculpture built in the eye of a needle. Wigan, a born dyslexic, creates on such a small scale that he has to hold his breath, work late at night, and work between heartbeats to keep from crushing—and in some cases accidentally inhaling!—his tiny pieces.

Viewable only through the microscope built around it, “Statue of Liberty” suggests abundant power may fail us in the end and possibility due to our own utilitarian designs.

After all, this iconic image of freedom could easily pass unnoticed outside of this exhibit. With details blind to the naked eye, one might consider "Statue of Liberty" as a material defect in an otherwise good needle, "Why can't I get this thread through!?" How will the seam get mended?

As Wigan says in his bio, “It began when I was five years old. I started making houses for ants because I thought they needed somewhere to live. Then, I made them shoes and hats. It was a fantasy world I escaped to where my dyslexia didn’t hold me back and my teachers couldn’t criticize me. That’s how my career as a micro-sculptor began.”

Wigan proves the best needles do not find their calling in mending seams. It's hard to overstate how human design at this tiny scale confuses the mind.

 

In the Eye of the Eye of a Needle: Mushroom Cloud
On the other hand, Jim Sanborn’s installation “Terrestrial Physics” fills an entire room.

 

Using a real particle accelerator, a Van der Graaf generator and a one-million-volt cathode, Sanborn’s work comes directly out of the ethical complexities of modern physics, a theoretical study in the early 20th century which became famously by mid-century an engineering application known as atomic bombs.

Much larger in size and yet made to cause reactions on a tinier scale than “Statue of Liberty,” “Terrestrial Physics” shows how tons of copper, aluminum, glass, steel, and other material are required to produce atomic energy. Yet, the contemporary comment rests in how Sanborn connects all of the control elements of this powerful structure: Using thin strands of knitting yarn. The yarn connects power to switches, switches to motors, and motors to motivations. The viewer could quite easily get tangled in the yarn where the threads bow lowest in the middle of the gallery.

The viewer feels a bit like a tempted kitten, the yarn nearly irresistible overhead, so much so that a museum attendant sits by to make sure you don’t.

Sanborn also created Kryptos, an indecipherable scroll of letters that sit outside CIA headquarters in Langley, VA, as though tempting agency code-breakers to try and solve it. Sanborn seems to ask, “What is science when it becomes an application? What does a moment of insight cost? What does a moment of carelessness cost?”

And what would happen if Schrodinger’s cat took yarny matters into his own hands?

 

Car as Coffin
In the parking lot across the street from DMCA stands Gonzalo Lebrija’s dramatic statue of a car plummeting straight down into a puddle of water. Entitled “Entre La Vida y La Muerte,” the front fender of a car just barely touches the surface of the water below as though the car, a muscle of black steel from the late 1960s, has fallen from a height straight down.

Looking at it, you can hear the violent crash, having seen it a thousand times on television and in films. You can imagine the water splaying and steaming from the slam of this motorized comet. And yet, there is no death. The car hangs forever a split-second from impact.

It’s a visual with much implied energy, and as much of a guilty pleasure to watch as the films that inspired it. You have Steve McQueen’s “Bullitt” Mustang frozen in a life-is-reflection metaphor instead of burning up the streets of San Francisco, but badass macho just the same.

 

Nightclub as Coffin
“Aranjuez” is a disturbing and captivating video installation by Gonzalo Lebrija.

Visitors can hear music from Lebrija's video echoing throughout the entire museum. It booms and reverberates from the basement floor like an underground dance party. This builds your anticipation, as you’ve already been bumping along with the tune for thirty minutes before you finally make your way down the stairs to the dark, mostly empty subterranean room, where you find two plush couches and a large screen in the darkness.

The song and the title of the installation refer to a Spanish composition played during the running of the bulls in the town of Aranjuez south of Madrid. (Click to listen to a sample of what echoed throughout the museum.)

The audio is funky. It cooks. But the video features something that clashes with the party sound.

Filmed from the artist’s apartment window in Guadalajara, Mexico, the images begin with overhead shots in a plaza of a crowd ebbing and flowing across the screen. As you sit down on one of the sofas, you immediately feel comfortable and relaxed. The footage of the crowd seems intriguing, like a close up of a rhythmic eddy in a stream.

The more you watch, however, the more you begin to see that the crowd is turned inward around a central nucleus. What gravity pulls people in like this? Celebrity? Money? You can’t tell. Next you see a metal security fence with policemen trying to push their way through and get to the crowd. Is this a jailbreak?

Eventually, Lebrija focuses on two teenage girls in the center of swarms and swarms of men, and you realize, you are watching what might become a huge gang trampling or rape or god knows what. You feel sickened as you watch these girls fend off gropes from men, some of whom seem to be trying to help them. It’s an image of human sexuality at its most insect nature, like watching hundreds of ants trying to mate with the queen. (According to the installation’s placard, the crowd formed when intoxicated young men flooded the street after a soccer match.)

Eventually, the girls run flailing and punching to get free from the crowd. The video closes by focusing on one particularly girl’s escape. As she runs for her life in her tight blue jeans, her thin midriff reveals itself, winking under the cropped bottom of an undersized T-shirt emblazoned across her shapely chest with the number 69.

 

Consider Well This Ruined Aqueduct
Energy Effects’ curators paraphrased Alexis de Tocqueville’s “Democracy in America” in the exhibit’s opening statement, saying, “If the Romans had known more about the laws of hydraulics, they would not have constructed such splendid aqueducts.”

But De Tocqueville did not mean greatness requires a level of ignorance. A bombast. No, he meant greatness and ignorance are the same thing the way light is both a wave and a particle.

In his essay, De Tocqueville says the Romans would not have built the aqueducts because, “They would have made a better use of their power and their wealth. …These things are the splendid memorials at the same time of their ignorance and of their greatness.”

Thus, the works in Energy Effects bring the viewer to a better understanding of that dual nature of ignorance and greatness. The Statue of Liberty confined within the eye of a needle; atomic energy controlled with yarn; a mass of steel, combustion and engineering plunging headfirst from the sky into a parking lot puddle—all of these things show monumental greatness in a tentative (and presumably fatal) balance with their own ignorant predicament.

Yet Lebrija’s video shows that predicament with particular power. At first, his video is a visual composition involving the ebb and flow of organic shapes, like a nature film about a flock of birds drafting in collective flight. But the ultimate reveal is not harmony, but rather chaos. There’s no poetry and no collective, at all.

It’s the most animal nightclub imaginable, where sexual pursuit devolves from dance to streetfight. The viewer watches as space, speed, power and effort mix one glorious excess for the eye, and then the opposite for the heart.

De Tocqueville sums it up: “Whenever a power of any kind is able to make a whole people cooperate in a single undertaking, that power…will succeed in obtaining something enormous from efforts so multiplied. But this does not lead to the conclusion that the people are very happy, very enlightened, or even very strong.”

Friday
May282010

Shadows From a Missing Sun

A review of Jan Tichy’s installation “Facility 1391” as part of the Portland Art Museum’s “Disquieted” exhibit, 2010. Portland Art Museum’s “Disquieted” exhibit combines a roster of over 20 renowned contemporary artists in response to “the most compelling issues of the day.” Sculpture, painting, photography, and films include Charles Ray’s Fall ’91, a nine foot tall female mannequin dressed like a surly Mary Kay corporate manager; John Baldessari’s multimedia collage of trees, birds and soldiers titled Junction Series: Two Landscapes; Andreas Gursky’s colossally huge photographs of feed lots (Greeley, CO) and Asian factories; and the inspired matrix of magazine ads from the 1950s, 60s and 70s from Ellen Gallagher, who adds a gray area to the black-and-white ads for hair weaves, face bleaching and feminine hygiene products. Jan Tichy’s installation piece Facility 1391 “disquieted” me the most, however. Facility 1391 is known as “The Israeli Guantanamo,” an official Israeli government prison “designed to contain growing unrest in Palestine” according to the U.K. Guardian article which exposed the building in 2003 as a secret torture facility: “The thick concrete walls and iron gates are themselves protected by a double fence overseen by watchtowers and patrolled by attack dogs.... Those who have been through its gates know it is no illusion. One former inmate has filed a lawsuit alleging that he was raped twice--once by a man and once with a stick--during questioning. But most of those who emerge say the real torture is the psychological impact of solitary confinement in filthy, blackened cells so poorly lit that inmates can barely see their own hands, and with no idea where they are or, in many cases, why they are there…. "’Our main conclusion is that it exists to make torture possible, a particular kind of torture that creates progressive states of dread, dependency, debility,’ says Manal Hazzan, a human rights lawyer who helped expose the prison's existence.” To keep the building secret, Israeli officials removed Facility 1391 from aerial photos and maps for nearly 20 years. That idea of “removal” inspires Tichy’s work. It’s not that Tichy condemns torture; he condemns our blindness to torture. Facility 1391 suggests that we wouldn’t know torture if we saw it. We wouldn’t recognize it. Tichy does this using a combination of architecture, light and video. Jan Tichy, “Facility 1391,” 2007. Photo from The Chicago Art Blog. The installation focuses on a miniature architectural model of the prison’s main building and radio tower. The model sits in the middle of the museum floor, separated from the rest of the exhibits by a ten-foot-tall wall enclosure that isolates and darkens the viewing space. The model covers about two square feet on the floor with the radio tower standing about a foot tall beside it. Surrounding the building is a rectangle of gray-violet light created by a projector hanging from the ceiling. The light bathes the building with an air of overhead surveillance that the Israeli government went to great lengths to prevent. The light appears slightly pixilated on the floor, as though shining through coordinate squares on a map. At about six feet by eight feet, the light both dominates the small building. Viewers may not step into the lighted area. It’s isolated. A museum attendant makes sure of this, reprimanding anyone who steps into the light (while also ironically enforcing a “no photography” policy). But there’s nothing to see inside the building. There are no miniature army figures, no tiny water boarding tools or itsy-bitsy cellphone cameras to capture the thumbs-up action. The only other items in the exhibit hang on walls of the exhibit enclosure itself. Outside the gray-violet light and nearly too dark to see are the deconstructed elements of the floor plan for Facility 1391, flattened and mounted on foam core. Near the exhibit entrance is a short history of Facility 1391’s grim past. But here’s the truly disquieting element. The overhead projector doesn’t just illuminate, it cycles, burning and fading gray-violet light to simulate sunrise and sunset in this stark world. As the overhead light turns on, the building casts a long shadow on the floor as though early morning. The shadow slowly shrinks, tightening to the size of building’s footprint, and then expands again in the other direction, to simulate late evening. The radio tower reaches far into the open field of light. It’s a cold and sterile day. Although visitors wander into the dark room and look up to see the projector overhead, I sensed that most of them assumed the moving shadows were cast by the projector’s light. Not the case. I studied Tichy’s piece for many minutes before I realized the light was not simply illumination; it’s the projection of a video. The moving shadow has been filmed using a light source that is no longer present in the piece, because it’s not possible for the extreme angles of sunrise and sunset to originate from the stationary overhead projector. Careful inspection of the crossbeams of the radio tower also reveals small inconsistencies with its structure and its shadow. The shadow is not a shadow of the object. One of Tichy’s overall goals as an artist involves the time-based element of video. From his own artist’s statement at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he was a 2009 fellowship recipient, Tichy says, “I make installations using paper or porcelain as sculptural materials and video projection as a time-based source of light. The projected animation reveals and enhances the sculptural elements, creating layers of narrative. I use photography, video, sound, and sculpture to explore how the physical and psychic space of these artificially constructed environments manifests itself as subject to change through the interventions of time, nature, and political action.” Jan Tichy, Installation No.6 (Tubes) from Artnet.com In a 2009 interview with ArtIsrael.org, Tichy commented specifically on Facility 1391, saying, “It is about access and distribution of information. Those charged sites are inaccessible to the public for various political reasons. But there is enough visual information on the Internet for me to create a paper model of the structure and redistribute it as a cutout kit. The fragile paper model of the power structure placed on the floor redefines the building’s relationship with the viewer.” Tichy’s Facility 1391 removes the “sun” and replaces it with a video projection. The power to cast a shadow has been removed from the real light source and given to the video rendering. However, a viewer who glances overhead and sees the projector will be tempted to assume the projector, not a video, casts the shadow. Tichy puts viewers at the mercy of their own glancing assumptions about what we believe to be the source of light. In the case of secret and sanctioned torture, Facility 1391 asks the viewer to reconsider whether there can be a valid argument for using torture. Why would it be secret? Why removed from maps? Why replace the sun with our own rendering of it? The sun is the center of our solar system, our sustainer of warmth and life, a primal source of philosophy and belief in a world bigger than ourselves—yet, so easily replaced by a moving shadow, that the subtlety of the sun’s absence goes undetected. According to stories from inmates subjected to torture, it is the deprivation of light that constructs a new reality in the tortured mind, something akin to a schizophrenic’s deviation of the self. When Tichy replaces the sun--and when we look but don't notice what he's done--he deviates the viewer's self. It takes only a few seconds for the mind to accept the projection of a shadow that was cast long, long ago by a light that no longer exists.

Click to read more ...