Rants and reactions to contemporary politics, art and culture.
Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Four Thousand Blocks
Ellie Ga, Projection Harbor, 2013
The artist Ellie Ga has created works out of her experiences
in the North Pole and more recently off the coast of Alexandria, at the site of the
underwater excavation of the famous Pharos Lighthouse--one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. She's interested in facts and information. She recycles information and makes art out of it. As part of her recent show at
Bureau, Four Thousand Blocks, she
created, for example, a letter press print of a dialogue between the King of Egypt
and the god Thoth about the pros and cons of the gifts the god is contemplating
giving to humankind. Thoth says, “ I can’t think of anything bad to say about
writing. It will make humans wiser and improve their memories. The recipe for
memory has been discovered.” In this case the king appears to be wiser than his
divinely inspired counterpart when he responds, “What you have discovered is not
a recipe for memory, but the drug of reminding. With your invention they will
be taught, but they will not be wiser.” It’s nice know that even the ancients
were worried that technological advances could result in the attrition of
certain human faculties—as we do today in considering how certain kinds of
thinking have become the province of the computer. The show was composed of a
three channel video related to the artist’s experience of the Pharos excavation
which also involved underwater dives. One screen is primarily a dark room in
which images are developing. A central screen is a documentary involving
the process by which the artist gained information about the excavation and the
third is simply compartments filled with metallic type out of which Ga picks
letters to create a story. It’s explained that a good type setter can decipher
the sentence that is being created by simply watching the movement of hands between these compartments. Synchronicity might be one word to describe what Ellie Ga is attempting. Big data is another, but the net result is to winnow and
exhibit the affect of historical enormity on the human imagination.
Francis Levy's debut novel, Erotomania: A Romance, was released in August 2008 by Two Dollar Radio.
His short stories, criticism, humor, and poetry have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Republic, The Village Voice, The East Hampton Star, The Quarterly, Penthouse, Architectural Digest, TV Guide, The Journal of Irreproducible Results, and other publications. One of his Voice humor pieces was anthologized in The Big Book of New American Humor (HarperCollins). He is presently the Co-Director of The Philoctetes Center for the Multidisciplinary Study of Imagination (philoctetes.org), where he supervises roundtable discussions on topics as varied as “The Psychology of the Modern Nation State” and “Modern Traffic Theory, Behavior, and Imagination”.