Mute Magazine Issue 17 April 2000
'After the Fact: Video Positive 2000'
by Rhidian Davis
There is a goldfish in a tank on a desk with a computer, and a man with 'FACT' written in large letters on a sign pinned to his shirt is explaining Superflex's Tower Block project. He tells me that Coronation Court is a real block in Liverpool undergoing regeneration and that the barely audiovisible little pixel-clips on the computer belong to 'Superchannel', a streaming web community initiative bringing council tenants the tools to broadcast themselves to a global audience. This signal, amplified by a wave of well-intentioned brio, is nonetheless struggling against the miasmic noise issuing from other spaces in the gallery, and collectively from the whole Video Positive 2000 festival. ("Hello darling" - the wraparound sample seeps in from Sonia Boyce's Motherlode next door).
Odd things happen when net projects like this enter dioramic gallery spaces: it is hard to pay proper attention to one exhibit when one's perceptual apparatus is being so systematically warped by the others. While Dryden Goodwin's show-stealing installation Wait, for example, corrals cropped close-ups of everyday moments of anticipation into a non-linear sublime, the poker-faced ladies in Monica Oechsler's gigantic Johari's Window play out an intra-projectional identity game and Curran and Stidworthy's Closing/Close By splits cinematic and narrative elements over adjoining rooms.
Community action video and installation work may share the same production facilities, but they have little in common when it comes to exhibition. So it is that a set of old ladies enjoying their monthly tea-dance in Coronation Court enter into parity with a listless goldfish on the table next to them. This may not be a bad thing, but who wants to live like a goldfish? Do these people actually want their lives to be made globally visible? Are they aware of the concatenation of signs and significances they have become part of as their animated community notice board becomes part of a gallery exhibit? And who really wants to watch all these badly produced web casts anyway?