dilbert & scaffold: Tech90s

Posted by Rhizome | Wed Apr 30th 1997 1 a.m.

in the cab on the way back down to soho from the museum of modern art,
we couldn't think of anything nice to say about diller & scofidio, whose
talk we had just seen/heard.

the work they showed seemed heartless and contrived, and thoroughly
lacking in the kind of playful engagement with technology that makes
some new media art slightly amusing.

d & s are a prime example of the dusty generation of new media
luminaries who built careers when there was very little interest, and
even less talent, in the field.

take "indigestion," which they produced on a grant at the banff centre
(also known as the "barf centre" for all the lame-o tech schlock they've
pumped out over the years) in canada.

in this interactive video installation, a murder narrative is played out
on a virtual dining table. users can select among multiple permutations
of gender and 'class' (which, in their text, d & s carefully place in
quotes), and replaying the story with variously accented argots. first
he's a cowboy, then she's an intellectual. how clever! the result is
unbearably flat. not the seductive flatness of postmodern schizophrenia,
but the tired flatness of over-determined neurosis.

d & s can certainly talk the talk, and give their work an intelligent,
if predictable, spin. but while their attempt to push all the right
buttons seems to be successful with grant panels, it doesn't wash with
me. i'd rather see their big budgets go to someone with an ounce of
creativity.
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