Watergating (2006)

Single-screen video produced with the “Watergate” (interactive MAX patch designed by the artist).

This work invokes the concept of mapped listening as applied to a series of scenes from movies from the 1970-73 period, all having an expanded concept of listening already built-in to the narrative (the included DVD contains four excerpts from Loving, The Last Picture Show, The Owl and the Pussycat and Husbands). In a manner similar to Gore and Bill (see above), it is the characters’ voices which open and close a noise gate, leaking in a secret conversation between Richard Nixon and his counsel John Dean (bugging is another, more subversive form of hearing), later to be known as the “cancer on the presidency” speech. As the viewer attempts to make out the movie characters’ dialogue, he is also trying to understand the crackling gated audio which supersedes the movie soundtrack (though the minutiae of background noise from the original film stubbornly persists). The video is generated by mapping ideas and techniques from early video art (applied throughout all four components but particularly acute in this video), in order to force a decoupling between the listening and viewing experiences. One no longer helps the other along. The imposition of an experimental video language onto conventional Hollywood films is intended to unlock and make visible (renew) the essentially radical act of viewing and listening.

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