Android Provocateur

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Drawing on the conventions of Blade Runner-style science fiction, Daniel Joseph Martinez uses tropes from the genre--particularly the language of dystopian futurism, android aesthetics, and replicated consciousness--to make social, political, and philosophical provocations. The artist's strongest work borrows strategies from performance art but substitutes an automaton for the human body. His recent installation, 'The Fully Enlightened Earth Radiates Disaster Triumphant' (2006), is a life-size animitronic doppelganger of the artist clad in sanitarium-white cloth. Lying on the floor, the figure lashes and writhes as if the semi-conscious android was attempting, but failing, to function as a human. Inspiring an uneasy mix of empathy and detached curiosity, Martinez uses the viewer's relationship to the work to draw out the social and political problems that arise from the digitalization of cognizance. Like most of his work, the installation is purely a spectacle of failure, offering no conclusion to the chaos that it proposes. Taking on a more explicit political dimension, Martinez's project will represent the United States, through January 31, at the 10th Cairo International Biennial, where the installation is likely to draw comparisons to the instability caused by American attempts to 'rewire' the political workings of the Middle East. - Bill Hanley