ghosts of the electronic netherworld

Posted by Rhizome | Fri Feb 28th 1997 1 a.m.

OBITUARY." Jon Thomson & Alison Craighead.
30 Underwood St, London. March 7th - April 7th 1997.

Private view: 7.00pm-9.30pm, 7th March 1997
Seminar: 2.00pm-4.00pm 30th March 1997

contact: Simon Hedges +44 (0)171 336 0884 fax +44 (0)171 250 3045

PRESS RELEASE

Obituary is the first large scale, solo work presented by artists Jon
Thomson and Alison Craighead. Having investigated the intersections of
popular belief, new technologies and surveillance in numerous video,
multi-media, audio and internet works, the gallery space at 30 Underwood
Street offers them a unique opportunity to bring these concerns together
in one environment.

In an era which some call the age of transparency, the work Obituary is
especially timely. As many of Thomson and Craighead's earlier pieces, it
explores the complex and often contradictory manifestations of the
electronic ether in our lives. This ambient environment, so difficult to
conceptualise in singular terms, collapses the ominous surveillance
capabilities of satellite and CCTV camera's with the shared emotional
experiences that are subtly forced upon us by television, radio,
greeting cards and recorded music. The electronic ether is the space of
global media vectors. It is created and used by governmental, military
and commercial broadcasting and data gathering organisations alike while
simultaneously binding millions across the globe into an illusion of
nearly familial proximity and intimacy. The electronic ether is the
repository for a vast amount of usable data on often banal, but
potentially incriminating evidence on our daily whereabouts and actions.

Thomson and Craighead explore the layers of emotional experience that
are emerging from this vapour of intimacy, fear, power and structured
paranoia. In Obituary, they cast a sympathetic yet unflinching eye on a
seance, site par extraordinaire for the ghosts of the electronic
netherworld to cross the boundaries that separate them from the living.
By projecting synchronised 'front' and 'back' versions of the same
event, the projection screen is able to slice through space, providing a
seamless record of events that occurred in a three dimensional space on
a two dimensional plane.

A small group of people sit around a table. The medium's face is smudged
with video mosaic thus rendered anonymous for reasons unknown to the
viewer. An accumulation of neutral voices cushion this space with the
generic pleasantries of birthday cards and cemetery gravestones, so
meaningful to someone, so deathly once sucked up into the mass. Are we
witnessing the conduit between us and our dead brethren or merely a more
efficient springboard into the banality, illusions and enforced
submissions of the electronic ether?
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