Wednesday, 29 June 2011
“My video work negotiates between narrative and abstraction in depictions of human interactions with natural landscapes. I use appropriated video to investigate nature as a site for man-on-man violence, as a site for abandonment (of self, social constraint, good taste, futures, etc) and as a site for the production of political narrative. Using scenes from everything to trashy B-movies and viral videos to Hollywood blockbusters and disaster footage, I extract micro-narratives from existing cinematic, art historical, and pop cultural representation of the relationship between subject, landscape, and sovereign power. I have lately started to focus on the means by which I have always accessed my found footage, namely the Internet. Maintaining my focus on representations of disasters (both social and natural) within nature, I am interested in investigating the rhetorical overlap between Nature and the Internet (to whit, ideas of the internet as a ‘digital commons,’ and as a space for the experience of radical democracy outside the constraints of actually-existing democracy). The rhetoric surrounding the internet has, since it’s inception, reinvigorated the stale language of nature as a locus of unimpeded freedom, a medium through which subjects can escape their status as citizens and bodies, toward decidedly uncertain ends. Whether the internet is a technological development on track to cure all that ails us, or simply a territory so unchecked it functions as an outlaw-ridden frontier state, the language surrounding the Internet is inextricably linked to a dated, Manichean determination of nature as a stage for both the sublime and inhuman.
From horror movies set in foreboding landscapes, to documents of the aftermath of natural disaster, social conflicts continue to be mapped onto, and made legible by, landscape. The relationship between citizens and landscape is fleshed out in the specificities of narrative, particularly in narratives of vengeance, war, and solitude—extreme reactions of the individual to the social bond. The state of nature as an ever present threat to the human bond can no longer be understood as Nature itself; instead, being left to a state of nature (left to suffer natural disaster, the destruction of one’s land, being left stateless and paperless, etc) is a pre¬eminently political, and human, threat. It is the threat that, having been left to the disaster of nature, you will not be brought back from it. I work to make the links between narrative, natural landscape, and political power simultaneously transparent, seductive, and ultimately dysfunctional.” – Carrick Bell