KELVIN GROVE RD, BRISBANE, 2010
QUT, The Block
HUMAN VS HUMAN
Human Vs Human is a sliced and cropped image still from a video artwork which uses various autobiographical war veteran stories from online social networking sites and live recorded 3D game play from first person shooter games to create alternative narratives which subvert and intensify their original meaning. The video work inserts the real life personal narratives of soldiers into a virtual gaming world cut with pop music, in-game narratives and atmospheric sound tracks to create a disturbing, conflated look at the reality of warfare and its simulated double. The image that the viewer looks at, or passes by, is literally designed to look back at them and as a result is meant to intensify this two way viewing relationship.
While driving you have to be constantly aware of who is behind you, at the side of you and who is in front of you at all times. You have to constantly scan and surveil the space in close proximity to you. When you look back in the rear vision mirror you are looking through a frame of mirror that has been proportionally designed specifically for the dimension of your eye span and size of your rear window. All of these dimensions and shapes also reflect the dimensions of the billboard. This act of driving is a "controlled meditative experience", one which requires a lot of concentration yet lends itself to the driver lapsing into a state of auto-pilot. Spending hours in the car during the day, moving through space at speed, combined with your body in an inert position lends itself to this idea of a "controlled meditative experience". The eyes seen on the billboard and glimpsed in the rear vision mirror of the car is designed like the flashback convention to transport the viewer. Art like the car is also a form of transportation.
The video slice of a pair of eyes lies within a video narrative where the character experiences "flashback" sequences. This filmic convention has gradually, developed into a sophisticated device to distort spacio-temporal relations between the characters present and past histories while transforming visual codes of representation to indicate thought patterns. Human Vs Human uses this convention as way to question how we represent our real experience through language and how we assign "truth" through retelling the past. The power of the human imagination to present something which is unpresentable through representation, such as our past and to process emotion from a single image lies at the heart of what it means to be human - to read, to feel and to react.
Temporality is a term used in talking about the materiality of time. The traditional mode of temporality is a linear procession of past, present, future. While this linear process is experienced by the body, the mind behaves quite differently, seeking to wander in and out of our childhood memories and our current state of affairs. This image of a set of eyes looking out at us on Kelvin Grove road acts both metaphorically and literally. The cars passing by the single static image of a pair of eyes on a billboard will animate the image from their speed within a given space-time continuum. Rather than a moving or static camera recording a moving image and then playing it back to us, the reverse is happening, where those in their cars are moving in front of a static image causing the image to appear to move with them. The gaze of the character in the video slice is not looking down onto the road but away into the distance in a sort of detached, silence; contemplating something unknown to us. Ideally, once the image is passed by and out of focus, its visual pull is meant to re-occur in the thoughts of those who experienced it at a later date.
Today, we are surveiled like no other human in the history of our species. This surveillance operates both in the real space of our shopping malls to the virtual online space of the internet where our search habits are continually recorded and monitored via cookies and tracking bots. But this surveillance does not only operate from the outside but also from within. We self-surveil our movements and our habits day to day with positive and negative effects. But does it only exist because we possess a pair of eyes. Or is it only through our developments in new technology that structure a new way of thinking about private and public space, freedom and anarchy, morality and immorality?