A film by Mark Cooley & Derek Ellis
Wanted. a video installation by beth hall & mark cooley
The language of the other is ideally suited for exploitative entities bent on political and economic self-interest. Perhaps the age-old political strategy of divide and conquer is given special traction in a selfie-oriented culture marked by its participants’ relentless ambition to assert oneself above others for a daily dose of 15 minutes of fame – measured by numbers of thumbs-up on an otherwise generic template of existence. Paradoxically, this obsession with “I” coexists with a loyal subjugation to the divine commands of branding, where inner checks and balances are handed over to the cult of brand identity. Are you a MSNBC person or are you a FOX person? Reactionary lines are carved deeper and choosing sides between regurgitated oppositional narratives seems paramount. The sides are clear. They are quickly learned by surfing your friends’ face book pages. They are black and white. They are simple. They are nonnegotiable. They are protected and nurtured by the feared other, onto which we project our worst nightmares, our secret desires, and from which we claim our virtuousness. Gradations of being – the potentiality of a complex self – is flattened and compartmentalized, the fullness of a human being condensed to a demographic, an avatar, a profile, a brand, a party. There is a war on difference even as arbitrary differences are created, made significant and recruited for war against the other. Homogenizing mythologies are made brutally real, simply by acting as if they are. They are constructs, but nonetheless, they are fully realized constructs and pointing to their arbitrariness or stating that we are in a “post-“ anything does not fill the trenches or level the mountains made by the absurd languages we’ve used to distinguish our selves from others, to place ourselves above others. We’ve expanded our vocabularies in a search of freedom, only to find that each new generation’s language of liberation so often becomes a cage for the next as it hardens, becomes institutionalized and resistant to embrace emerging subjectivities. As long-held and solidified definitions of identity expand and language evolves alongside our emerging selves, pronouns are revealed as mere assumptions encoding subjects to reconstruct the prisons, guards, and inmates of by-gone generations. And yet, even in this liberation of self, there remains the sacrosanct “I” and “you”, “us” and “them”. Is there a way we can linger in the space between spaces, where walls might soon be erected? Is there a way to hack the very language in which the (re)creation of “us” depends on the (re)creation of “them”?
Wanted is a looping video installation and meditation on the flawed pronouns “I” and “you”, which on a social scale are often violently expressed as “us” and “them”. The title evokes a double meaning, eluding to both the negative use of “wanted” in a criminal sense and “wanted” as an expression of the human need for belonging, for love, which so often expresses itself as a merging of “you” and “I”.
video installation by beth hall, mark cooley & celia cooley | 2012
Maternalisms exhibition catalog by Natalie Loveless
The popular imagination is heavily invested in a deeply romanticized conception of the maternal. The laborious, messy and complex beauty of living with children is lost in countless sanitized and idealized images of a superficial, strictly gendered, privatized and heavily branded maternity. Popular culture gives a pre-packaged answer to the complex questions of parenting in a quickly changing world. For some, parenting is narrowed to a list of milestone purchases – graduating kids through a series of child development books, baby seats, bicycles, cell-phones, computers, cars, and so on into adulthood. Those who prefer a critical and active approach to parenting soon discover that information and disinformation abounds, and critically engaged parenting can quickly lead to significant research skills. Though the labor of caring for children is generally maligned in popular culture, if given attention, the daily rituals of child care-giving reveal a beauty based on a system of values radically different to those conjured by the media’s constant appeals to our well cultivated sense of alienation, self-interest and irrational fears.
“As philosopher of science Isabelle Stengers puts it, “an idea always exists as engaged in a matter, that is as ‘mattering.'”9
Inhabiting the space between detailed local care practices and the social frame- works enmeshed with them, beth Hall and Mark cooley’s Safe explores how ideas are engaged in matter and matters engaged in ideas. Safe juxtaposes the overwhelming medical data, advice, and rules that face parents in the information age with specific actions that invoke the maternal everyday: hand washing, hair brushing, flossing, etc… As accompaniment to these texts and images, a fetal heartbeat repeats and multiplies in the background, creating a soundscape of the periodic monitoring that punctuates modern pregnancy and stands as evidence that all is right and safe in the womb. At the same time, this soundscape insists on the anxiety of information, an anxiety that obstructs any ability to even entertain the fiction of unmediated experience, freighted as we are by the immensity of information and disinformation characteristic of contemporary motherhood.”
– Natalie Loveless – New Maternalisms exhibition publication.
2008 – 2011
“Kids in Congo were being sent down mines to die so that kids in Europe and America could kill imaginary aliens in their living rooms.” – Oona King, former member of the British Parliament.
For over a decade, war has ravaged the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Fueled, in part, by an intense demand for natural resources, the war has claimed over 5 million lives. Coltan (Columbite-tantalite), a metallic ore from which the element tantalum is extracted, is one of the DRC’s most sought after resources. Tantalum is widely used in common electronic devices such as cell phones, computers and video game consoles.
Ps4 is an interactive video mash-up that juxtaposes documentary video footage with live video gameplay. Though initially conceptualized in response to reports of Sony’s large stake in the DRC’s bloody coltan trade during the production of its Playstation 2, Ps4’s playlist has since expanded to look at a variety of issues. On a general level, Ps4 explores the potentially alienating effects of gaming by derailing the seamless gameplay experience and offering a problematic and politicized view of so-called “immersive” leisure activities.
PS4. Mark Cooley. Media Fields Journal
Launch project: (Dis)Location, (Dis)Connection, (Dis)Embodiment
(Dis)Location, (Dis)Connection, (Dis)Embodiment is a collective experiment in database video and random access narrative. The installation is the work of many artists, each responsible for thirty seconds of video attempting to engage with paradoxes of digital culture and 21st. century communications. The installation consists of a database containing the media contributions of each artist. A computer randomly retrieves video and audio and juxtaposes the media fragments in ten-second intervals on three projected screens and three stereo output systems. The process provides an endlessly randomized deconstruction and reconstruction of narrative and associative imagery in which meaning simultaneously forms and dissolves and the usual stabilities of conventional video are put in flux.
Project concept: Mark Cooley and Edgar Endress
Project architecture: Mark Cooley
Jacqueline Aceto, Jenifer Ashcroft, George Baker, Brigitte Balla, Sean Blackford, Said Boissiere, Bridget Borley, Juan Botero, Tara Bowen, Lindsey Burnett, Nicholas Carson, Luis Cavero, Robert Cowling, Brian Dang, Daniel Dean, Jessica Engel, Jennifer Fairfax, Jennifer Farris, Emmanuel Freeman, Jessica Gibson, Lance Gunther, Tyler Harris, Moises Herrera, Franklin Hwang, Maurice James, Andrew Ke, Arthur King, Julie Koziski, Peter Lawrence, Chongha Lee, Andrew Meinecke, Michael Merrill, Aaron Miller, Eli Mintzer, Julia Moscato, Nichole Mosher, Sarah Newdorf, Brent Nieder, Kelvin Olayinka, Adrian Peters, Jose Ruiz, Sorphea Sam, Michael Sargent, Nelly Sarkissian, Paul Sauter, Christina Schnittker, Matthew Searle, Alex Straub, Aisha Syed, Mohamed Talaat, Eric Tsai, Sean Watkins, Nestor Zerpa, Yerden Zikibayev
The Field museum of Art
This museum, its exhibitions, the artists, the art are all fictions – as it is with all museums, exhibitions, artists and art. This particular fiction is constructed as a sort of museum mash-up wherein a Fine Art Museum is constructed on the bones of a decayed Natural History Museum site – specifically, the Chicago Field Museum website was used as a template.
The Field Museum of Art site provides a stage for performing romantic and modernist attitudes toward this concept we call nature and for tracing how this concept – nature – and the living things and planetary systems it’s tied to, are changing in response to media and communications technologies. Of particular interest is the relationship between hyperreality and species extinction – investigating that relationship and marking out the real differences between a pulsing LED and a pulsing vein are primary concerns of The Field Museum of Art.
by Mark Cooley and Edgar Endress.
Connection, dislocation, fear, communication, fragmentation, collectivity, intimacy, disembodiment are all possible and often simultaneously present in our attempts to interact with others online and off. Dear Internet is an experiment in collective publishing that attempts to investigate how networked technologies become platforms for the paradoxes of social relations in digital culture.
Dear Internet began in 2006 as a kind of inversion of the security and authoring conventions of blogs and blogging. Dear Internet was set up as an unmediated publishing platform where users were urged to address the Internet directly and indulge in their deepest thoughts, feelings and fantasies with the abandonment, comfort and protection that only online anonymity can provide. Initially, letters rendered some interesting aspects of the complex relationships, or lack thereof, we have with the humans of the world. Sadly, but perhaps fittingly, contributions waned and the automated publishing platform gave way to spam. The blog is now an archive of spam email and seems to be establishing a “purely” networked identity – blissfully free from the messy and complex emotive states of humanity.
2009 update: blogger detected and removed the Dear Internet blog for violating blogger’s terms of service agreement.
The first wave of human contributions to Dear Internet were presented at MAP in 2007. Installation Notes:
- One or more webcam equipped computers are located throughout the installation space with internet browsers open.
- Through an established email account, to which installation visitors are given user id and password, participants are invited to email a letter addressed directly to The internet at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- All emails are inventoried and published at Dear Internet blog.
- Submitted letters are gathered from Dear Internet blog, remixed and randomly projected as scrolling ticker texts in the installation space.
- Accompanying scrolling texts are a series of image projections. Projections feature webcam images of letter-writing installation participants accompanied by images accessed from anonymous live IP surveillance and web cameras.
- Installation audio consists of computer reading excerpts from submitted letters while being underscored and sometimes interrupted by cinematic scores and sound effects.