Patrick Holbrook :: <Back |Main| Next>

Computer program and 25 minute video. 2003.
Rock and Roll Saved My Life, Mercer University

"Bayou" is a computer program and video work on a monitor diptych. It engages issues of the local and global through geologic identity, popular culture, and language.
Bayous are found only in the South of the United States (although are perhaps only differentiated from 'streams' or 'rivers' by the name they are given), and are associated with the rural and romantic. The video in Bayou is of a twenty-five minute walk through a concrete, urban bayou in Houston, Texas, so a tension between homogenization/globalization and difference/the local is created. The computer program randomly pairs phrases from ten songs with “Bayou” in their title, from black as well as white culture. The ‘constructed’ aspect of the urban bayou I walked through demonstrates a metaphor of language creating reality. The millions of combinations of lyric pairs further ambiguity and break down binary oppositions, and/or cause the local (the original context) to become obliterated or recombined into a new (translocal?) hybrid. The random pairing of phrases from lyrics breaks down binary oppositions and the hierarchies they create, first, through the mechanistic display approach, perhaps initially flattening the racial/cultural hierarchies, and secondly, through the language game which ensues: For example, “And the girls are as pretty / as a butterfly” may become “We were bayou boys / as a butterfly” or “We’ll have big fun / On the bayou” may become “Nobody’s doin’ fine / On the bayou.” Sometimes the pairs make grammatical sense (“Chasing down a hoodoo there /Down your throat”) and sometimes they don’t, however, a sense of poetics may be found.