CAN YOU HEAR ME?
Fermynwoods Online Exhibition
Redefining transmittance and evading the digital cacophony
Some 17 million historically-significant photos – including Nelson Mandela’s imprisonment and JFK Jr. saluting his father’s coffin – were acquired in 1995 for commercial purposes from the Bettmann International Archive by Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates. The rights were sold on again in 2016 to a Chinese stock photo and licensing company. To who does this heritage of data really belong?
Our seventh annual curated online exhibition asks what role artists can play in transmitting data of political or social importance and whether digital processes can reveal new perspectives. Post-Truth (‘relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief’) was named as The Oxford Dictionary’s word of 2016. In light of recent referenda and elections, we present two artworks that reflect the current emotional climate in UK and American politics, the diminishing public trust in factual evidence, polls and the shifting perceptions of the establishment.
- Anna Brownsted
- Jessica Harby
Referendum (Tell Me How Do You Feel)
Anna Brownsted is an American artist currently resident in the UK. Diplomat is a series of short meditative films capturing unpredictable ‘remixes’ of a warped long-playing record. The record, issued in 1964, is a heat damaged and (almost comically) warped memorial album for the then-recently assassinated American president, John F. Kennedy features several of his most famous speeches. Each time the album is played, it reveals a slightly different variation of the words due to the record player needle bouncing across the surface of Kennedy’s Oath of Office and Inaugural Address, partially erasing the fabric of the recording medium in the process. What initially seems to be a single short film is actually 100 short films – one for each of JFK’s first 100 days in office – beginning with a randomly selected short.
Jessica Harby is an American-born artist who is considering becoming a British citizen. In Referendum she has turned over her citizenship decision to the public by inviting you to vote. The artwork reduces the practical and legal arguments for citizenship to a flood of visuals concerning the country of her birth and the country she now calls home. These two animated GIFs cycle rapidly through images associated with the United States and United Kingdom, together with a pertinent quote from Rebecca Solnit’s book Wanderlust: A History of Walking. Will the visuals have an effect on the viewer’s decision? Underneath is an interactive ballot where the viewer is invited to cast a vote that will influence Harby’s choice of citizenship at the end of the year.
Fermynwoods would like to thank Gary Thomas (Associate Director, Animate Projects) for his assistance in selecting the artists for this online exhibition.
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