INVISIBLE / VISIBLE
AN INTRODUCTION FROM PHANTOM WING’S WRITER IN RESIDENCE
SEPTEMBER 3, 2013 – ANDREA WILLIAMSON
Making the invisible, visible. Slowing down. Occupying the gaps.
Ours is a remix culture. From fashion to television commercials, the impetus is to work through the cultural material that we already have, and make it different; breathe new life into it. It’s been said that postmodernism is simply taking all of modernist discoveries and feeding them through our current technologies. As a Read/Write culture, everyday life is engaging in consumption as well as production, this time feeding everything we consume through our subjective desires, beliefs, moods, etc. and uploading a slight variation on collective material back into the mediasphere. So in a climate where everyone becomes an accidental artist, the role of the artist proper is to critically engage with these hyper-speed exchanges.
This is crucially important, as we know, because power unchecked has dangerous implications of domination and oppression. An artist’s work within technologies of power involves recoding information, interrupting automatic processes and intervening by shifting the focus slightly. It also involves taking note of what is happening around us and offering spaces of self-reflection.
In the case of Phantom Wing, artists and curators occupy and open up a space for reflection between the old King Edward School, and what will be cSPACE’s future arts hub. They make visible this usually invisible (or more so unconscious) transition in the name of progress, which is to say they give duration to what is conceived popularly as a simple switch from old to new. In this interstitial space between productive ecologies, they create another ecology that, while commemorating what was good in the past points a way forward. The artists and curators act both as ghosts and prophets, producing their own systems of meaning out of the overlooked time and space, the excess, the discarded, and the useless.
How does a community of artists occupy such a void? Do they employ the already ubiquitous capitalist tendency to fill it up with objects with the implication of some kind of profit? How engrained in us is this tendency to fill the void, be productive and have something tangible to show for our time? Will the focus instead be less tangible, and the production instead placed in the realm of narrative formation? What stories will be made between the building’s history, still evident in the murals, locker stickers and spatial layout of the classrooms and hallways, and the artists as both archivists and progenitors of the new? What stories are already told everyday by our bodies and minds that were formed within these educational settings? How will the artists and curators exchange stories amongst each other in this space, letting the organizational structure of the building and its institutional purpose inform their collective arrangement? And finally, how will they let these stories speak to us, giving form to the formless and otherwise forgotten or ignored?