WAVES

Chelsea Art Museum

 

 

Curated by Heather Hubbs at the Stray Show in Chicago 2001,

and Nina Colosi at Chelsea Art Museum (NYC), in 2009.

 

2009

Twenty-one 5” black and white TV-sets, glass paint, sand, light fixture, live television

Dimensions variable

 

 

Twenty 5” TV-sets progressively descend from the ceiling, with the last and lowest one crashing into the floor. At the point of the crash there is small hill of sand, at the center of which there is a small crater formed by the impact of the last TV-set. The TV-sets are tuned into different random channels. The sound coming from the different TV-s creates a wall of sound, making it virtually impossible to focus on the content of any one channel in particular.

 

At the dawn of the mass television era, a handful of television stations broadcasted a few programs for only several hours per day. The absence of choice meant that television was autocratic, dictating what viewers would watch and when. As television rose to become the new center of gravity for the private social sphere, it often produced unintended consequences. While channel surfing for the football game, for example, a sports fan might inadvertently watch the recent developments of a coup d’etat in the Ivory Cost, which he didn’t even know existed.

 

As TV stations boomed, they extended broadcasting around the clock, which increased viewer’s choices thus “democratizing” television. Gradually, the unilateral relationship between the TV and its viewer morphed into a mutual rapport as televisions (or at least their producers) started watching their audiences: Which programs are the most popular? At what time of day do most people watch TV? How do gender, race, age, and socioeconomic status dictate programmatic and scheduling preferences? Demographic statistics aided and encouraged this process of democratization, as cable, video, satellite, and other technological achievements developed to provide infinitely more choices, resulting in a sophisticated virtual system.

 

Today, the remote control has become an additive fictional muscle of one’s body, obediently sending impulses from one’s mind to the TV monitor. No more need for the football fan to watch news about the Ivory Cost, or for a Georgian expatriate to follow the Georgian - Russian conflict through Russian, American or French channels, when the Georgian channel is available via satellite. The Georgian channel will speak to its citizen exactly the way she wants it to, in her own language, literally and metaphorically. Meanwhile, a Russian viewer is delivered a different version of the story in her respective language. Thus, TV assumes a chameleon-like identity, conforming to the tastes and cultural nuances of whomever happens to be watching. What once transmitted a virtual version of reality now reflects a virtual reconstruction of one’s own superego. 

 

 

  • Katy Donoghue, 2009, "Helidon Gjergji: Waves," Whitewall Magazine.

 

 

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