Monday, August 16, 2010

Exhibiting Artist : Alana Kakoyiannis

Untitled captures the straightforward moment that a Pyrex dish shatters in a sink. It is the pace at which this act unfolds, over the course of 3 minutes, that captures the viewer's attention and imagination.

We are altogether familiar with the notion of slow-motion replays during sporting moments and surveillance acts - to determine if a tennis ball touched fault line in a game at Wimbledon, if foul play ensued in a moment of soccer injury at the World cup, exactly how a person was accosted and abducted as they exited public office, or how a bank user struggled with a malfunctioning ATM machine.....Video is often used as a tool to magnify the moment that happens too fast in real time to comprehend action. Untitled does precisely this. Only that in its simplicity lies a deception of one's perception.

While using video's effectiveness as a medium to record an ephemeral act, Kakoyiannis has removed all visual cues that would cause the viewer to study the context of the violent act. Rather than lead the viewer into specific narratives, her focus seems the phenomenon of breakage itself, in a style reminiscing the early era of black and white video work. She also removes all evidence of force in the gesture through her manipulation of video frame rate. To the viewer, it seems like a glass tray is being placed in a metal sink; commonplace. Yet, suddenly, the result of this benign act is startling. The vessel breaks from touching the sink, with an all-too-familiar crashing sound. And the viewer is forced, rudely, to comprehend and reconstruct in her mind, the undisputed presence of that force.

Kakoyiannis considers force as though it were a transparent material, one that is very much part of the equation but invisible to our a pristine window made of clear glass that birds sometimes, accidentally, fly into. Or if one were to use an analogy of hotworking glass: Just as a hot, semi-molten glass object shows little evidence of the human force that go into the process of making it, the marks being visible only when it transforms into its cold, hard self, Untitled cloaks the aggression, the presence of force, till we hear the sound (like tool-marks on the object). Her work, thus, allows our minds to (mis)comprehend a transparent entity : of glass; of force.

This video is also an example of a recurrent theme amongst several artists : the penchant to break glass. What meaning is there, to be found or made, from the act of breaking glass? The theme will be discussed in a later post.

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