Carrick Bell

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Furniture for a new community, 017, 2011

single channel video, looped, 5m 26s

NFS

Furniture for a new community is a multi channel video installation, consisting of a series of videos produced using captured footage of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill live-cams provided by BP. I use these live feeds, eventually placed on BP's website after governmental and public pressure, to examine the relationship between nature, political power, and narrative as they are deployed and articulated in these real-time, low quality videos.

Furniture for a new community does away with any attempt to convey information, and instead concentrates on the formal characteristics of each of BP's twelve live feeds. The videos are made by taking screen captures for the duration of a live feed (usually interrupted by a dropped internet connection or overloaded browser), and removing all text (depth reading, time codes, and ROV identifiers). These stills are then restitched into video using cross-dissolves and fades, accompanied by extreme elongation or shortening of the duration. By making these slight alterations, I am only finishing the job the videos, and broadband infrastructure, fail to make possible: a smooth, contextless, and entirely distracting visual form at several removes from the event it purports to represent.

The BP live-feed videos are the simultaneous success and disaster of a crippled techno-utopian project; not that of oil exploration, but that of the use of visual technologies to overcome distance in and through visual display. For every camera that functions smoothly (BP's near-HD feed that was originally withheld from the government), there is a camera that is incapable of even communicating its inability to record. On top of this, visual access is differentiated in terms of the widely disparate infrastructure that provides different speeds and situations of accessibility for the viewing public.

Furniture for a new community is situated at this point, where in its transmission the live-feed is splintered into innumerable videos, whose forms are determined by the infrastructure they are carried over (and essentially produced by). It is constitutive of these videos that what they fail to reveal, or withhold, is as central as what little information they communicate; for every pixilated iteration of the feed, there is an unseen Ur-video, smooth and gapless in both resolution and communication. In spite of the blurry time codes and depth gauges, the only information content of these videos is that of unmitigated and spectacular disaster, often taking forms that resemble high school science experiments more than anything else.

Artworks by Carrick Bell

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