We live in a society where technology is evolving to have fewer and fewer wires. As our technologies become more mobile, they become more integrated into the rhythms of our daily lives. Deep in The Present Tense Archives, we found a piece that used cords from an obsolete and nostalgic technology to confront issues around voyeurism, surveillance, and ideas around the post human body.
Ian Colon “CHASING THE DRAGON”
Ian Colon "Chasing the Dragon" 2007
For The Present Tense and TEST’s Contaminate 2 Festival, Ian Colon tied a video camera that faced behind him into his hair. The camera fed into a television that he held inches away from his face. He began to sprint around the space, navigating the environment only through the lens of the immediate past. As the piece evolved, Colon increasingly grew disoriented. His body reached physical fatigue as it tangled in the cords that hung from the television and camera. This revealed the impossibility of sustaining the action, questioning the complicated relationships that humans of the 21st century have built and continue to build with technology.
Lucas Murgida created the first part of this piece for Contaminate II as part of his Locksmithing series. The following text was given to the audience at the event:
“The Locksmithing Institute of Contaminate Lesson #7: Willful Disappearance
In lesson #7 the students of “The Locksmithing Institute of Contaminate” will be instructed in the ancient locksmithing technique of disappearance.
First, to understand this concept better we must broaden our definition of keys. All of the people, ideas, things and places in our life are keys. All of these allow us to enter or exit certain physical and mental spaces. Most keys unlock our feelings of safety. They do this by permitting us access to ideas that we associate with our sense of security. Some examples of these are: homes, cars, favorite cookies, or relationships to loved ones. When a person loses their keys typically they panic. This reaction and attachment implies that one cannot manifest their own feelings of security without their keys. Suffering stems from this attachment. This is because we have great difficultly imaging what existence might be like without keys acting as our filter.
In lesson #4 of “The Locksmithing Institute” students were taught how to find their lost keys. This lesson arose from the observation that even the best locksmith can only make someone a new set of keys. Though this is a good service it fails to restore the sense of security that a persons old key afforded them. In the end people don’t want a new set of keys. They want their old keys back. From there, students who enrolled in “Lesson #5” were taught how to change their relationship to their keys. To do this a furnace was constructed. Next, the students were given the opportunity to place one of their keys in the furnace. The molten metal that remained was then poured it into a new, abstract form. It was still their same key, only their relationship to it had changed. In “Lesson #6” students were given the chance to lose their keys of their own free will. By choosing to do this (as opposed to accidentally doing it) students took another step towards developing their own feelings of security separate from their keys.
Those three lessons of “The Locksmithing Institute” dealt with, at their core, matters of “perception”. More specifically they are about things moving in or out our frame of reference. This has less to do with ones physical eye and more to do with the “minds eye”. The standard association that is placed upon the word “disappearance” is that something is gone and it’s where a bouts is unknown. However the simple meaning of the word is that something is no longer within our “sight” or to ceases to “appear” before us. “Appear” is strongly linked to the present tense. It is something that is occurring even as we are perceiving it. “Disappear” is no different. It is something that is happening in the present that we are connected to. Something that is always in the process of occurring.
To explicate this point Instructor Lucas Murgida will give an example of this in “Lesson #7”. On Friday March the 9h of 2007 he will be giving each of the students of Contaminate copies of the keys to his apartment in San Francisco. At approximately 6:00 PM EST on March 14th upon returning from Boston, Murgida will be locked out of his apartment. For Murgida the keys are not gone, they are simply out of sight. For the students Contaminate “Lesson #7” is occurring but it is not within their sight. There are many things that we are intrinsically connected to that our perception is incapable of detecting. When events or keys slip out of our frame of reference they are become endowed with other worldly ability it exist long past their life ever would have permitted. Because of this “Lesson #7” will always be occurring. This is the embedded significance of disappearance. It is the transcendence of the moment.“
Click here to see documentation of the completion of this piece!