Boris Groys, Religion as Medium, DVD, 29 mins, 2006.
Thinking in Loop:
Three Videos on Iconoclasm, Ritual and ImmortalityCUBITT Gallery
, until 8 June 2008
Over a collage of scenes from various feature films and documentaries, ranging from avant-garde silent films to music videos, Night of the Living Dead
to Independence Day
, Groys’ voice hovers over the visual impressions. While scenes from the films pass in silence, the German philosopher reads out his thoughts on Iconoclasm, Religion and Immortality. His voice adumbrates a characteristic which all three videos share: a suspicion towards the media, the medium itself. With the installation Thinking in Loop
, consisting of three videos that were produced for several occasions between 2002 and 2007, the relationship between text and image, the compatibility of both means of public expression is subject to a re-configuration from the point of view of its production and reception. Groys describes this relationship as a way where the image and the text engage with each other, rather than subordinating the images to function as mere illustration of the lecture. There are associations and parallels, but there are also disruptions.
Over time the importance of the formational process of this relationship becomes apparent. The ideas Groys articulates in his lecture become questioned by the image and vice versa. The videos produce a certain gap between what we hear and what we see – this difficulty of simultaneously following both text and images results in a confusion. The presupposed linear narrative structure of the video material is abandoned, thus the expectation of a clear communication of information content becomes turned into frustration. The disruptive structure of the text-image relationship in the videos suggests shifting one’s focus towards the transmission process itself and reflecting on its difficulties. Not only do these difficulties become articulated through the shape of the videos themselves, but are as well the main topic of all three texts for a discussion on various terms: Religion as Medium
(2006) discusses the sacred space and puts the religious character of revelation on a level with the machinery of disclosure in the mass media. Immortal Bodies
(2007) suggests a rejection of physical immortality through a simultaneous reading of Nikolay Fedorov’s model for a utopian society of immortals pared with Alexander Svyatogor’s idea of immortality as both the aim and condition for communist society. Iconoclastic Delights
(2002) discusses how our cultural modes of image reception that all have in common an immobilization of either the viewer or the image are challenged by the moving image in the exhibition space or in the space of everyday life, whereas the film becomes iconoclastic itself. In his videos Groys employs the technique of appropriation. What might come across as a bold experiment actually opens the possibility to consider and use film as an artwork or book under the same conditions of reception in the framework of contemporary art and literary practice. Groys takes on the strategies of contemporary art that present us a medium as it is, for what it is taken, as it comes across on its own terms. Here, the confusion of the usual text-image relationship, the miscommunication and appropriation suggests a reflection on the transmission process, proposes a gap in the ‘mediatic surface’, a moment which is both the condition and execution of any reflexive understanding of communication within the media.
The texts of the three videos can be downloaded at here