. blog —

By Rhizome


A recent project by Seattle artist Caleb Larsen harnesses RSS feeds to document the news media's cynical exploitation of readers' lust for tragedy. Titled after a newsroom cliche, 'Monument (If it Bleeds It Leads)' scans a Google News feed for the word 'killed' and accompanying statistics about the number of dead. The figure is sent to a toy that shoots brightly colored plastic pellets from the ceiling of a gallery space, dispensing a pellet for every death reported. Sometimes the pellets come one at a time, sometimes 1,500 are fired. As one waits for the next wave to fall, the anticipation associated with viewing kinetic sculpture becomes a metaphor for a fascination with bloody news stories. In the sculpture, actual tragedy is eclipsed by a desire for an aesthetic experience in the same way that tragedy vanishes behind the spectacle of a gristly headline. But far from simply moralizing about media cynicism and public bloodlust, as the pellets pile up, the project becomes a sobering memorial. Once it hits home that each yellow sphere represents an actual life lost, the project creates an occasion to reflect on deaths that had once become sensational abstractions streaming over the Web. - Bill Hanley

— Share this Article —

Comments