Like the deserts miss the rain (part 1)

Multimedia installation

Krieg, Hasselt, Belgium, 2017

Like the deserts miss the rain is a two part exhibition that borrows its title from the 90s pop hit Missing by Everything But The Girl. The song famously projected the feeling heartbreak onto the abstraction of a distant landscape. Stemming from a historical moment in which global capitalism was in the process of dissolving previous political and geographical boundaries, the song could be seen as the product of a new collective consciousness that was capable of shifting and making interchangeable massively disparate ecologies. How can the desert miss the rain if the absence of rain is precisely what defines the desert? In 1994, 6 years before the term anthropocene was widely introduced, this landscape could be appropriated to appeal to anthropocentric matters of the heart. In 2017, we know that if rain were to meet the desert, it would be a sure sign of total environmental collapse.

The multimedia installation materializes this state of projection as a theatrical setting. The desert as a vast and seemingly empty landscape of projection is encountered in fragments, refracted and distorted through thousands of digitally rendered raindrops printed on adhesive vinyl and fixed to the walls. The digital raindrops reference both historical optical tools and the contemporary products of digital media. This ecological landscape as canvas for projection is set against walls painted in chroma key green. This color, usually used as a utilitarian tool in film production, is here reappropriated sculpturally to act as a vibrantly blank space of projection, one to be replaced with any other image at some future point. While green often references plants in ‘nature’, the exact composition and use of this pigment is based precisely on it being the color most removed from any colors the camera could capture in the natural world.

In the fall of 2016, a CCTV camera installed to monitor animals in a forest in Poland, captured two blurry images of a man running naked on all fours. Police later found the man high on LSD, and when asked what he was doing, he responded by saying he was a Siberian tiger. These poor digital images and the terms of their creation sit on the threshold of two ecologies (technological and organic) usually seen as oppositional. Here we find technological tools of surveillance that have grown into ecosystems far too vast to ever be analysed by humans. This technological network of sight becomes as dense and opaque as the forest it seeks to monitor.

The artworks, printed in a halftone raster of only black ink on mirror, sets these strange images on an unstable reflective surface. The viewer finds the images in a state of perpetual movement and change based on the viewer’s own shifting position. There is no central focal point or point of observation, only infinite entanglements with the image’s contingencies.