THE ADVICE SHAPE
2 screen video installation- made originally for solo show at
OUTPOST GALLERY 2010, 15 minute + 30 minute loop
“The Advice Shape is an immersive double screen video installation. An arrow directs the audience into the installation through black and white slit curtains familiar to nightclubs, strip joints and festivals. Inside the chamber at each end large tripod screens face one another. On the farthest an uncanny doubling of the slit curtains sways gently in a breeze, alternating with an androgynous nurse wearing a rubber head. This queer presence has an obscure intelligence about it and gestures at the audience as if undertaking some kind of aptitude test to no apparent ends. On the facing screen is a hybrid semi-narrative of sensationalist still and moving images, audio, blocks of colour, spoken word, performance and text. Appropriated imagery of natural disasters, mutated animals, abject beauty, American genocide and stuffed effigies coexist with chirrupy 1950s advertising music or romantic classical. The soundtrack manipulates your judgment through a rollercoaster of affective registers. The audience finds themselves in this charged space between projections that engage in different ways, but do not reveal their meaning easily. In this queasy setup implied violence, excess and dumb fear preys on popular cultural anxieties. The sense that something is about to happen lingers, becoming hysterical when the audience is faced with a lo-fi gameshow puzzle that provides no opportunity to engage; behind, the nurse continues its aptitude test. “You have a split emotional register,” the audience is told, “would you like me to reseal it?”
Curator Jon Davies has described Thomas’s work as ‘kitchen-sink surrealism’, succinctly articulating the way the artist tips everyday social and domestic concerns into the fantastical, bizarre and transgressive. If kitchen sink realism was tied to concerns in a specific region of England – the North, The Advice Shape diagnoses the extent to which domestic fears and anxiety today have become transatlantic and effected by nonhuman factors such as technology. It is simultaneously ubiquitous and particular, riddled with paradox.”
— Johnathan P Watts.
for the 2 Video Data Bank Pages for the single screen versions of this 2-part work
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