Wednesday, September 13, 2006

America on the Brink: pt. Three

This has been my summer project. The extension of America’s Grave, which was first exhibited Jan 20th, 2006, one year after “the inauguration of death,” as my colleague and the creative director of the piece, Randall Packer, puts it. This is the piece as it went on display Sept. 9th, 2006, in Athens, GA.

The piece is fairly text heavy, between Randall’s blog chronicles
and my transcription of the cosmology of hell. We debated how attentive an audience would be to work that is so didactic. But they came in droves, stood, and read.

The background on the piece, or how I don’t want the piece to be perceived as though we are raving lunatics: The Cosmology of Hell is based off of Dante’s Inferno. The original grave, as created by the US DAT, depicted six levels of hell: 1) The Violent Against Their Neighbor, 2) The Traffickers of Holiness, 3) The Falsifiers of Commodity, 4) The Profiteers of the People, 5) The Traitors Against Their Own, & 6) The Sowers of Discord. These levels of hell are represented through the media with television clips from 1) 9-11, Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine; 2) crooked televangelists; 3) Supernatural Commercials; 4) Katrina; 5) The Administration; 6) Bill O’Reilly.

My job, when I first started working with the Department was to scrub, capture, and edit video and concoct a way to bury the monitors and DVD players in the dirt so they could last a run of two months.

For Athens, the piece had already expanded and additional narratives were included. The Cosmology of Hell had to be included. Below is the text on the wall, pulled from the audio clips of America’s Grave. The audio of the grave is designed in such a matter to allow chance. All six monitors are edited to different lengths, and the audio levels are raised and lowered to emphasize specific sound clips. All six monitors could play at once or the grave can go silent. Relationships form between them. The text below is an attempt to create a discordant linear narrative of the piece, as interpreted by a character I adopted for the trip to Lynchburg, VA: John 3:16. The numbers, which were originally reflective of the order of specific quotes extracted from their various levels of hell, have become an arbitrary assignment, but a deliberate visual aesthetic that communicates how text, even those of wholly writ, when removed from their source, or taken out of context, can be completely polluted of their intention and meaning.

1.1Oh my God. The mighty World Trade Center tumbling down. People saying I love you and then the line going dead. The loss of life is utterly unbelievable. 1.2Today they brought that terrible hatred to the United States of America. 1.3Very seldom a military plan goes according to plan. We are going to have to hold everyone accountable. 1.4Enduring freedom is an inexpensive operation, estimated at less than $2.5 billion. 1.5Allah be praised, it’s a win-win situation -- I hope I live.

2.1I don’t understand why God let this happen to me. 2.2Aww you dummy. Shut up! He’s being God! We did not evolve. We were created by the genius of God. 2.3But, one misstep, one change in the direction of the wind, and I am into the abyss. 2.4There are good days ahead for each of you, I promise. You better get yourself ready. You profess Christ but you do not possess Christ. 2.5When you’ve lived your life and you’ve shared the good news of Jesus Christ... bombs away!

3.1Tell us what you don’t like about yourself. It’s time to start believing, start getting things back to normal the moment you call. 3.2The medicines. The plastic. The materials. Things that make modern life modern. Less of it is stored in the body as fat. 3.3 It’s not only brought us closer together but it has definitely deepened our faith. Order today. And see your world in high definition. 3.4I’m not putting it off a minute longer. This TV really sucks! You know what to do.

4.1I tell ya it’s gotten to the scary level here. I’m just looking to make sure we’re not going to get whacked in the head with anything. 4.2For those of you who are concerned about whether or not we’re prepared to help, don’t be - we are. The government has declared martial law. There are no more civil rights. 4.3We lost everything. Everything. It’s crazy. That’s gotta leave you feeling pretty helpless. 4.4This storm affects everyone. And Brownie, you’re doing a heckuva job!

5.1But we need to be alert. We will not tire. We will not falter. And we will not fail. 5.2There’s an old poster out west that said, “Wanted: Dead or Alive.” These demands are not open to negotiation or discussion. 5.3And then there came a day of fire. A fire in the minds of men. We will smoke them out of their holes. 5.4So help me god. My job is to protect America and that’s exactly what I’m gonna do, even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.

6.1This is World War Four: the war for the free world. It is an attack on American tradition. 6.2Be American. Celebrate Christmas. People spend more money. Jesus makes people want to spend money. 6.3This is what the culture war is all about. 6.4Generally we’re against rape. To an obsessive element, you know, It looks like it is harmless. It’s not. 6.5So, it’s down with Christmas & up with sexual offenders. Because they’re Liberals and they throw like girls. 6.6The American Media is working for the enemy.

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