Mimicking Endurance: Who, Me?
“We shall seal images of ourselves in images of our studio, seemingly in solitary confinement inside seemingly identical images of cell-like rooms measuring 10ft x 10ft x 10ft. We seemingly shall not converse, listen to the radio or watch television, until–after you have viewed them for one year–we unseal our images…
“1 year performance video”, commissioned by Turbulence, continues MTAA’s series of Updates which resound seminal performance art from the 60s and 70s in part by replacing human processes with computer processes. For example, is there meaning in replacing On Kawara’s zen-like devotion to his date paintings with an automated script which functions in a similar way?
1 year performance video takes Sam Hsieh’s One Year Performance 1978-1979 (aka Cage Piece) and updates it in a number of ways.
First, we’ve taken the act of living in a cell and transformed it into images of ourselves living in a cell. These video clips are edited dynamically at runtime so that every viewer sees a slightly different cut. The clips are organized according to the clock: if you access the piece in the morning, you see us doing morning things; if you access late at night, you see us sleeping.
Second, we’ve transferred the onus of a 1 year commitment to the work from the artist to the viewer. The piece will be realized fully only when a viewer runs it for one year. As M.River put it:
“In the work, we mimic endurance without doing the labor. We also know the audience can just close the browser and walk away. No one needs to suffer on this one. The failure is built-in at the front end.”
Will a viewer ever complete the work? It’s doubtful.
Though the work stands fully on its own, another dimension is added when it’s viewed in dialogue with the work that inspired it. The choices made in updating the work we believe speaks to how our society, culture, and the creative process has changed since the original was created.
1 year performance video (aka samHsiehUpdate) by MTAA. A 2004 commission of New Radio and Performing Arts, Inc., (aka Ether-Ore) for its Turbulence web site. It was made possible with funding from the Jerome Foundation.
MTAA (M.River & T.Whid Art Associates) is a Brooklyn, New York-based conceptual and net art collaboration founded in 1996. Their studies of networked & digital culture & materials; the institutions of art; and the pursuit of the absurd take the form of web sites, videos, installations, sculptures, and photographic prints. Their work has been commissioned by The Alternative Museum, Creative Time, New Radio and Performing Arts, Inc., and The Whitney Museum of American Art and has been exhibited by PS1 Art Center (New York, 2000), The Walker Art Center (Minneapolis, 2000), Eyebeam Atelier (New York, 2002) and Postmasters gallery (New York, 2004).