Rockford Keep on Rolling (2003)

For three television screens, lighting installation and live blackout.

32 minutes.

The questioning of traditional communicative paradigms, begun in a series of musical works, was here applied to the medium of video. Material from a popular 1970’s television show (the Rockford Files), taking place in Los Angeles, is subtly manipulated via editing, both within each screen and across screens, so as to induce gradual semiotic slippage. The California Energy Crisis of 1999-2000 (in which many cities suffered rolling blackouts) provides a structural and conceptual underpinning: the concept (conceit) of electric utility deregulation is projected onto the material in order to progressively “deregulate” the viewer’s ability to absorb and structure the latter according to familiar narrative norms. I wanted to metaphorically draw attention to a social problem by working directly with the viewer’s perceptual abilities: for instance, by creating constantly shifting visual densities—some easy to absorb (track 8 features multiples of the same image), some not (track 5 features three levels of simultaneous activity)—the viewer’s concentration is continuously manipulated, which impacts directly on his/her perception of time passing. In other words, (physical) energy deregulation is investigated via a parallel deregulation of psychic energy. The structure of the work de-evolves to the point of unearthing a “public service announcement” on the power of giant corporations, featuring a narration by Ralph Nader (track 11) (providing another take on the underlying issue at hand). Essentially, this work is geared towards investigating strategies leading the viewer to think critically, and to make imaginative and metaphorical linkages between art and social issues.

“A bizarre mini-masterpiece…the whole thing has a kind of off-the-wall inventiveness and “lightness” that I really admire…captured very much my experience of living in southern California…”
Bob Gilmore, author of Harry Partch, a biography

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