Rebecca Marks is a graphic artist working in Vancouver. She is currently pursuing a BFA at the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design.
LORNA BROWN, DAVID ZINK YI
April 7–May 12, 2007
It has been noted that the Age of Information is, in fact, an age of forgetting: we are inundated with a culture so overwhelming that it hurtles past us without remark, unabsorbed. This flood might be called cultural chatter. One of the results of the waves of information is boredom, a lack of curiosity in the face of the sheer magnitude of things and ideas in the world. A nod to Theodor Adorno’s discussions of the culture industry, leisure, and the “chatter of culture,” this exhibition brings together the work of two artists that approach the thematics and anatomy of world-weariness.
Lorna Brown’s ongoing research into boredom has informed her recent visual and critical practice. The Structure of Boredom (After Oden) is a work that endlessly repeats an analytic diagram, mapping boredom’s characteristics of repetition, predictability, and temporal suspension. Installed in Artspeak’s windows, it functions not only as analysis, but as decorative hoarding or perhaps lolling dance step instructions. Brown’s video Threshold (cont.) projects an archive of rolling quotes on boredom that spills over the floor and up the wall like cinematic credits. The quotes complicate and contradict one another as they struggle to communicate. The use of text elicits a layering of histories. From the inception of the printed word through modern literature, theory, and into the age of Hollywood and digital communication technologies such as texting and Powerpoint, the work incites a consideration of the conditions of obsolescence in tandem with the conditions of boredom.
David Zink Yi’s practice offers reflections on the hybrid character of cultural and personal histories, often depicting the body as an instrument or medium of both the individual and the collective. His video Ahumm is a short verbal, visual, and physical meditation in which a figure is shown writing variations of the expression “ahumm” on a piece of paper while intoning the expressions. It is unclear if the actions are synchronous and the actions reflect an emotionality that is at once personal and distant. The performative activity of the figure takes place in real time (but in its looping this “real time” is suspended), unlike the Hollywood structure of the film credits in Brown’s work. The work contains a tension between passivity and action, conceptualism and body politics. The works in The Chatter of Culture are potentially on the threshold between pessimism and hopefulness, at once frustrating and contradictory, meaningful and on the brink of illumination.
Postscript 27: Rebecca Marks on The Chatter of Culture (PDF)