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Vent

BROWN, Ian, Campbell, David and Durden, Mark (2016) Vent. [Artefact]

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Abstract or description

Brief description:

Vent is a three-screen video installation, produced by Common Culture (David Campbell, Mark Durden, Ian Brown) commissioned by mac, Birmingham, for the solo exhibition Common Culture Cabaret. Vent examines popular culture’s obsessive fascination with the excesses and indulgences of ‘celebrity’ and the public’s willingness to consume, and participate in, the cruel spectacle of television talent shows. Two screens depict a ventriloquist act, with a dummy and a ventriloquist next to each other in conversation. The third screen depicts a television audience slowly and mechanistically providing responses, from slow clapping to excited laughter, out of sync with the content and dynamics of the ventriloquist act. Combining traditions of cabaret with forms of presentation modelled on televisual spectacle, ventriloquism and impersonation are used to comically unravel the absurdly narcissistic and confessional nature of celebrity culture and highlight the in-authenticities of the entertainment industry.

Research Statement:

Vent is formed around an investigation into the wider contexts of ventriloquism, from the disassociated voice, the political associations of throwing voices (or the mediation of the voice) and the mania of binary extremes within the psychological conditions of late capitalism (Connor, 2000, Fisher, 2009). The use of the ventriloquist act creates a mechanism to reveal and critique the processes by which ‘celebrity’ is nourished and maintained as a lucrative excess of the entertainment industry.

The dialogue, appropriated from UK and US celebrity confession television programmes, makes apparent the interchangeability of the both the content of the narrative and process by which it is translated into entertainment. To further extend the enquiry into throwing voices (as a political act), an impressionist cycles through a range of celebrity voices. The impressions, dissociated with the content of the material, explore self-commodification as a mechanism to exchange apparent personal distress for economic benefit.

The three elements; ventriloquist, dummy and audience, are all depicted within the same space, with the scale and orientation of the video projections providing a restructured version of the televisual convention. Significantly, the act itself is displaced; the dummy and the ventriloquist are separated from the other by the confines of their own screen and, although placed in the expected position for ‘viewing’ the act, the audience’s responses are depicted as mechanistic, unitised and out of sync with the act. As the gallery audience inhabit a space centrally between the three screens, they are encouraged to occupy a distinctly different role to that of their televised equivalent. The methodology of dissemination is pivotal to the research, allowing for the deconstruction and subsequent reconstruction of the components to form an unsettling experience. As such, the alienating process of the cycle of repetitive mass consumption is exposed and made available for critique.

Item Type: Artefact
Additional Information: An interview in Aesthetica magazine in relation this artwork can be found here: http://www.aestheticamagazine.com/q-and-a-common-culture/
Uncontrolled Keywords: INCL
Faculty: Previous Faculty of Arts and Creative Technologies > Art and Design
Event Location: mac, Birmingham. UK
Depositing User: Ian BROWN
Date Deposited: 04 Oct 2016 08:50
Last Modified: 15 Apr 2019 13:59
URI: http://eprints.staffs.ac.uk/id/eprint/2473

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