The end & Needed to talk

The end, 2013
Multi-channel HD TV installation, reused YouTube content
Needed to talk, 2013
Vinyl text installation, reused Youtube comments thread

This exhibition aimed to invite alternative and affective perspectives on the nature of our relationships to technology, and to each other.

Recalling the YouTube ‘suggested videos’ list, The end (2013) is a column of identical widescreen monitors. On the screens YouTube content, in which CRT TVs have been dramatically destroyed by their owners, has been transformed through postproduction to extend and heighten their sad last moments. This bleak vision of collective dumping is combined with references to the soap opera genre, which arose when TVs became affordable and cherished additions to the everyday person’s living room. The accompanying audio is remixed from classic soap opera soundtracks; transitions mirror the genre’s stylised dramatic zooms and close-ups; and the improbable deus ex machina narrative twists of cliffhangers are reimagined, as the dumped and destroyed TVs are, at the last minute, revived by digital intervention.

Immersing its viewer in a collective emotional outpouring, Needed to talk (2013) spreads in vinyl lettering around the gallery walls. The text derives from a YouTube comments thread that responds to the video (getting dumped)|what to do after (getting dumped), and has been edited and materialized into a new, spatial form. In this overwhelming accumulation of utterances from heartbroken, and occasionally hopeful people, we find a communal demonstration of empathy and, conversely, isolation. It speaks to both the promise and failure of online forums to provide alternative spaces for genuine social connection.

Together the works aim to combine pathos and humour. It seems that people are painfully dumped just like analogue TVs, and echoing the interweaving narratives of soap opera characters, their publicised private stories seek their own improbable happy endings. This interweaving of documentary and fiction, analogue and digital forms, asks if, despite the ending of our relationship with a once-loved technology, the melodrama it made commonplace might live on through a shared desire for the dramatic, in our everyday, networked lives.

Thank you to all the team at Scott Sign for their incredible support and assistance on this project.
This project was supported by Arts NSW's NSW Artists' Grant Scheme, a devolved funding program administered by the National Association of the Visual Arts on behalf of the NSW Government.
This project received support through the 2013 Firstdraft Emerging Studio Residency Program.

—'The Future's Knot', The Lock-Up, Critical Animals Festival, NSW
—'The end', Firstdraft Gallery, NSW