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Ketchup Drool: CÈCILE B.EVANS

12 October 2016 KETCHUP DROOL

“The work of Klaus Lutz is absolutely unique.

Lutz was a drafts­man, printmaker, and thinker. He was ceaselessly making sketches, recording his thoughts and feelings in notes. He was a performer and a filmmaker. In a special way Klaus Lutz was a universal artist, and his work has a timeless resonance. Containing art historical references to the Bauhaus as well as the Russian avant-garde, his work simultaneously confronts us with an unparalleled artistic vocabulary. This is perhaps what constitutes the special quality of his timeless oeuvre, which draws on art history but is at the same time utterly autonomous”.

Dorothea Strauss, director of Museum Haus Konstruktiv, Zurich

© Estate of Klaus Lutz

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Cécile B.Evans, Feeling For You, ongoing
Feeling For You is an ongoing, frequently updated performance lecture that reverse engineers the artist’s practice through a series of personal anecdotes, Google searches, images, and video clips. Meandering through the last few years of Evans’ work, the talk follows the same ‘hyperlinked’ logic used in recent projects like Hyperlinks or It Didn’t Happen or AGNES. Touching on the impacting rise of digital technology and the disorienting feedback loops it creates within society, the performance takes this year’s festival theme as its starting point.

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Like the narrator of the Berlin-based artist’s film AGNES (The end is near) (2014), an artificial intelligence neu­rotically fixated on her own impermanence, Evans’s characters are often unable to describe their predicaments, shaped by larger forces they can’t com­prehend and choices that weren’t their own.

Evans’s video installation How happy a Thing can be (2014) shown at Wysing Arts Centre in Cambridge in 2014, includes a pair of scissors, a screwdriver and a comb placed on clear Perspex rods. Installed alongside an animated HD video, the objects’ weirdly smooth surface reveals them to be 3D-prints. The contemporaneity of their mode of production jars with the timelessness of the objects’ designs, as does the work’s title, drawn from Rainer Maria Rilke’s 9thDuino Elegy (1923). The future is here, the work seems to say, but it’s one in which the past is oddly present. Conceived in tandem with the installation, the film of the same name follows the strange private lives of computer-animated versions of the same three objects, bored and hysterical, like celebrity recluses. The scissors take a bath in an upscale bathroom, and when the soundtrack turns ominous, blood streams from its handles. When a voiceover announces – apropos of nothing – ‘it’s time to dance’, the scissors begins a sweeping dance solo. But this is as much an emotional breakdown as a dance break – not virtuoso spectacle, but an eruption of untamed feeling.

Feelings are facts, as Yvonne Rainer put it in the title of her 2006 memoir, and for Evans too, emotions are a stubborn truth of experience, both easy and difficult to say anything about. Evans studied acting before making art, and physical gesture seems sometimes a way to get hold of emotions when language alone can’t quite reach. At the same time, gestures can communi­cate no less arbitrarily than words: as when AGNES, the hand-shaped chatbot Evans installed on the Serpentine Gallery website in 2014, asked me how I’m feeling and allowed me to respond only by selec­ting between three pictures of differently posed hands.

 

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Cécile B.Evans, Hyperlinks or it didn’t happen, 2014
Media saturation in the internet’s “cut & paste” ecology has become so naturalized that contemporary film’s collaged aspects are not readily considered. Who are the subjects in, for example, a Ryan Trecartin and Lizzie Fitch film? And for whom do they perform? When I show these films in my class, my students switch tabs in their browsers, Snapchat each other, like photos, fav tweets—often on multiple screens at once—then state that this “work is about strange fake-tanned kids’ search for a toilet.”
What has made this answer stay in my mind pertains to the word “about.” When used for these works, the banal statement “this work is about…” registers as a crisis of categorical closure that the simultaneous existence of disparate, accumulated content on a single screen constantly thwarts.
Central to Cécile B. Evans’ show Hyperlinks at Seventeen Gallery in London is the video-essay, Hyperlinks or it didn’t happen, displayed on a high-resolution TV with headphone cords installed at a comfortable cartoon-watching height in a corner of the space. Entering at the opposite corner, I navigate the gallery space, attempting to link the objects together—a prosthetic leg atop an upturned Eames chair replica near a rubber plant that counterbalances a plexiglass structure supporting 3D-printed arms (One Foot In The Grave, 2014), another Eames replica sitting in one corner (just a chair), various prints on the floor and walls—before sitting down, cross-legged, on a thick-pile rug strewn with postcard-sized images.
The film begins with a super high-resolution render of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman’s head floating over the shimmering image of a jellyfish. “I’m not magic, and please don’t call me uncanny,” says a synthetically-augmented human voice. “I’m just a bad copy made too perfectly, too soon.” The video lingers on Hoffman’s face. His lips do not move — at least, not in sync with the voice claiming to be the bad copy. “Fuck. Fuck FUCKING FUCK! I am full of him.” An audience laughter track plays. The bad copy’s hair flutters as his head bobs. The follicles on his nose look like they’d be the perfect environment for a blackhead to take up residence. The subject floating on the screen does not symbolize Hoffman, rather, it is an improper metaphor for the actor’s “untimely death’; for anything that transcends description, yet is saturated with meaning nonetheless. Hyperlinks is so full of meaning that, as the voice suggests, it is set to burst.
Cécile B.Evans, Tree of Life2014
C-type print, Kodak metallic print and UV print on glass

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Glossary

Hyperlink a reference to external data that a reader can open either by clicking or by hovering over a point of origin.  From Greek hyper (prep. and adv.) “over, beyond, overmuch, above measure”.

Magnolia a film created by Paul Thomas Anderson that uses the Hyperlink cinema structure of interwoven storylines.

Render to cause to be or become, make. The process of making an image from a 2D or 3D model.

AGNES is a spam bot that lives on the Serpentine Galleries website. A spam bot is an automated computer program or interface that sends spam, or unsolicited information.

Colossus (1943) Colossus was the world’s first electronic digital computer that was at all programmable, developed for British code breakers during World War II.

Arthur C. Clark  “It goes on forever” “My God it’s full of stars”.

ENIAC (1946) was the first digital electronic general-purpose computer in 1946. It was Turing-complete, digital, and capable of being reprogrammed to solve “a large class of numerical problems”.

Les Horribles Cernettes an all female parody pop group comprised of women working at CERN. An image of them was the very first image to appear on the World Wide Web in 1993.

Novosibirsk’s Fraules dance centre made famous by a group of Siberian students who post videos of themselves on YouTube performing complex choreographies to popular music.

Computer Girls term coined by computer scientist Dr. Grace Hopper to describe female programmers in the 1960s, largely forgotten by history.

Cosmopolitan an international magazine for women.

Dissociative disorder is a condition that involve disruptions or breakdowns of memory, awareness, identity or perception, usually caused by psychological trauma.

Eyes Without a Face is a 1960 film adaptation of Jean Redon’s novel. During the film’s production, consideration was given to the standards of European censors by setting the right tone, minimizing gore. It is also a Billy Idol song.

Land of Silence and Darkness a film by Werner Herzog about a woman who is deaf and blind and takes care of others in a similar condition.

Fraidy Cat a one-reel animation of the popular Tom and Jerry cartoon, the first to have Tom the cat express pain.

Father and Sons an 1862 novel by Ivan Turgenev.

Nosleep a section on Reddit.com where original authors can post their horror stories.

Women’s Work a song by Kate Bush, created for the movie.

He’s Having a Baby a John Hughes film starring Kevin Bacon and Elizabeth McGovern in which Ms. McGovern’s character may or may not die during childbirth.

How I became a teenage survivalist a book that helps parents tell their teenaged offspring how to survive the end of the world.

Forever Young a song by Alphaville, a band who got their name from a Jean Luc Godard film and recently sung by Beyonce and Jay-Z for their On the Run tour.

James Foley  “I really feel I can touch you even in this darkness”.

The Invisible Man is a 1953 novel by Ralph Ellison.

Jemma Pixie Hixon a YouTube sensation who covers popular songs and has not left the house in over 5 years.

Agoraphobia an anxiety disorder where the sufferer perceives certain environments as dangerous or uncomfortable.

Hatsune Miku humanoid persona voiced by a singing synthesizer application developed by Crypton Future Media. She is currently on tour with Lady Gaga, appearing as a hologram.

MikuMikuDance an animation program that lets users animate and create 3D animation movies.

Notes from the Underground, a novel by Fyodor Dostoevsky, which features a narrator, the Underground Man who lives in the underground.

Paul Tibbets pilot of the Enola Gay.

Pope Francis “Please stop!, I ask you with all my heart, it’s time to stop. Stop, please!”.

Vic Morrow’s Death Vic Morrows was an actor who died on set during the filming of Twilight Zone: The Movie, along with two child performers when a helicopter crashed due to pyrotechnic explosions.

Softness is a limited edition beauty oil line by the famous hologram Yowane Haku, available via studioleigh.com

Superman Returns the second Superman, in which Marlon Brando was brought back to life as a digital recreation for his role as Jor-El, Superman’s father.

Synecdoche New York a multi-tiered postmodern drama film directed by Charlie Kaufman that blurs the boundaries between fiction and reality.

Robert Lewis “My God, what have we done”.

Polar Bears are getting tired searching for ice.

Walruses are getting tired looking for food.

Tater Tots are a registered trademark of Ore-Ida, a side dish consisting of deep-fried grated potatoes.

Vocaloid is a singing voice synthesiser created by Yamaha Corporation.

Wangjaesan Troupe A North Korean all girl group.

Various BBC World Service programs “It’s the 21st Century”.

Digital Resurrection the act of digitally recreating someone who has died, usually done holographically (Michael Jackson, Tupac Shakur, Gene Kelly).

Digital Recreation the act of digitally replacing an actor in a film, often when that actor has died (Brandon Lee, Marlon Brando, Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, Laurence Olivier).

What a feeling a song originally performed by Irene Cara for the film Flashdance.

Yowane Haku a friend of Hatsune Miku’s.

Pierrot Le Fou a film by Jean Luc Godard starring Anna Karina and Jean Paul Belmondo, in which they are on the run and hide out on the beach.

Dune a film by David Lynch, for which a glossary was created and handed out to moviegoers.

 

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Cécile B.Evans, AGNES2014 – ongoing
AGNES is a bot that lives on the Serpentine Galleries website.
She also travels.
AGNES (the end is near) is a video installation originally on view in the group exhibition La Voix Humaine at Kunstverein Munich curated by Saim Demircan, alongside works by Tyler Coburn, Kalup Linzy, Erica Scourti, Cally Spooner, Frances Stark, Amelie von Wulffen

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Cécile B.Evans, How Happy a Thing Can Be2014
3D printed plaster sealed with wax, HD video; dimensions variable

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Cécile B.Evan @ Artissima
Section: Present Future
Gallery: Barbara Wien, Berlin
Biography
Artissima Digital
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