uConnect

uConnect 
2004
a collaborative project with Ryan Griffis.

Installation Sample

uConnect is an attempt to deal with the materiality of digital commodities, commerce, and culture. Mocking both museum and retail showroom aesthetics a computer display sits atop a pedestal under a vitrine exhibiting a stock tropical island screensaver. Interrupting this banal yet inviting simulation is a soundtrack made up of recordings of workers in the microprocessor industry testifying to the hazardous working conditions in so-called “cleanroom” environments. As the testimonies unfold it becomes clear that “cleanroom” facilities are constructed to protect technological components from the contamination of humans, yet provide little or no protection to humans from the toxic effects of the dangerous chemicals used in the manufacturing process.

The value of the human life and the decline of all of earth’s life systems (due in large part to “technological advances” of the 20th and 21st centuries) is continually eclipsed by the next wave of consumer gadgetry that offers endless ways to negate and disguise the real in favor of the virtual. The piece has a similar appearance and conceptual framework as many ready-mades or object appropriations yet seeks to make explicit the political economy of the object in ways often left out of common-object-as-art scenarios. Detourned laptop computer advertisement pamphlets, featuring a juxtaposition of digital euphoria and consumption with the abuses suffered by workers in high tech industries, are provided for gallery visitors to browse and take.

CO.dependency

CO.dependency
2004

Produced for the exhibition youGenics – http://www.yougenics.netheld at the Betty Rymer Gallery, School of the Art Institute of Chicago – Curator – Ryan Griffis. 2004

Materials
3 plexiglass vitrine/glove boxes with mirrored bottoms,
Sara Lee™ cheese cake, plate, fork, dinner place cards for Gauguin,
Vuillard and Toulouse-Lautrec.

Wall Text
“Sara Lee’s art collection has made a statement – a quality statement – about our company. Art is all about excellence and vision and striving for perfection – the same standards that we uphold for our portfolio of leading brands. We are quite certain that the ‘brand names’ of Monet, Renoir and Degas have been a great complement to Sara Lee and have become icons of excellence that reflect our approach to doing business. Our gift to America acknowledges our belief that these works of art can provide similar influence and motivation for a broader audience.”

– John H. Bryan, former CEO and current consultant to, Sara Lee Corporation, current director of the Grocery Manufacturers of America, Inc., Chairman of the Board of Trustees of The Art Institute of Chicago, speaking at a 1998 ceremony in honor of Sara Lee’s “Millennium Gift to America,” a public relations initiative through which Sara Lee would give away the top tier of its renowned art collection to museums located throughout the world including The Art Institute of Chicago (AIC).  The AIC, which was given paintings by Gauguin and Vuillard, has a close relationship with Sara Lee. The corporation is the sole corporate sponsor of blockbuster exhibitions of artists such as Cassatt and Toulouse-Lautrec as well as the lead corporate sponsor of exhibitions and events of the Betty Rymer gallery.

“The big issue on standards for the Grocery Manufacturers of America is to be sure that people don’t perceive ‘organic’ as superior.”

– Gene Grabowski, vice president of communications for Grocery Manufacturers of America, Inc (GMA), the Washington, D.C.-based industry association, which represents 144 manufacturers of branded consumer packaged goods including Sara Lee.  GMA is stridently opposed to labeling genetically engineered ingredients, which are already present in an estimated 60 to 80 percent of supermarket foods in the US. Under intense public pressure in Europe Sara Lee has attempted to avoid GE ingredients in their foods produced for that market, yet in America, Sara Lee has maintained the position of the GMA and their powerful Washington lobby even while shareholders and some legislators have organized to demand a GE moratorium, until long term health and environmental safety testing has been done.

Enduring freedom V.3

Enduring freedom V.3 | 2003

Enduring freedom v.3 – produced for YouGenics an exhibition exploring the social implications of biotechnology. Curator – Ryan Griffis.

Materials: Wall paper, Lamp, Framed document – Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO)letter to George W. Bush showing support for the “war on terror” and outlining the Biotech industry’s political/economic agenda for 2002.

Wall text – “When I was coming up it was a dangerous world, and you knew exactly who they were. It was us versus them, and you knew exactly who them was. Today, we are not so sure who they are, but we know they’re there” President GW Bush

Overhead projector – Projected newspaper article concerning the public outcry over the military spraying of biological agents at Fort Leonard Wood (90 miles from the site of the exhibition) as part of the current administration’s Project BioShield (supported by BIO).

Congressional records – Transcripts of congressional hearings concerning extensive secret testing of biological and chemical agents on the American public by the Department of Defense, the CIA and other agencies since the 1940’s.

Installation note: The various components of the installation are tied together with the use of red and green extension cords that run up walls and across ceilings to connect the power cords from both the overhead projector and lamp into a single electrical outlet (printed with an American flag motif). The access red and green cords are woven together, coiled and tied with camouflage fabric on the floor below the framed document display.

Comment: As with the study of any cultural representation, a good deal can be learned about a technology’s research and development by addressing the ideology of its patrons. The biotechnology industry and the current administration have expressed their political and economic alignment in the “war on terror” apparently by responding with their own form of terror. The US government’s experimentation with biological weapons is well documented, and so is the government’s commitment to contracting from and passing technologies to the private sector. A little research can begin to tell us what’s in store and who’s buying.

warProductwar

Launch warProductwar | 2002 – 2004

warProductwar is a net project that re-presents a mash of media images and sounds drawing links between US war culture and economic interests.  The project makes use of the web’s reputation as an information source, by asking users to engage in extended research based tours of existing sites while engaging in a disorientating and nonlinear browsing experience with provocative juxtapositions of images and sounds. warProductwar is an ongoing meditation and as such remains in a constant state of flux.  Broken links and loose ends should be expected.  Additions, deletions and changes are frequently pondered and infrequently enacted.

Review – warProductWar. Marc Garrett. Furtherfield.org

Enduring Freedom (the good patriot test)

Enduring Freedom (the good patriot test) | 2002

Dirt – placed on the gallery floor in front of a pedestal holding television 1.

Television 1 – playing a video in which Noam Chomsky analyzes U.S use of terror in the wake of September 11, 2001 attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center.

Door mat – printed with an image of an eagle and text “United We Stand” in red, white and blue. Placed in front of pedestal holding television 2.

Television 2 – displaying a closed circuit video of viewer/participant watching television 1 superimposed with a graphic of a target.Video (surveillance) camera – contains a lens printed with a target and is focused on the viewer/participants watching television 1.

The various power cords needed for the piece are used to tie the components of the installation together. The excess cords are coiled, tied with camouflage printed fabric and connect into a single electrical outlet (printed with an American flag motif).

reality tv

reality tv
2001

materials: Digital prints, plexiglass, reference binder, mirror printed with bar code, shelf, hardware

size: 8″ X 60″