Patrick Holbrook :: <Back |Main| Next>

Complicit
Videos, flip clock parts, circuitry, motors. 2005.
Eyedrum, Atlanta

Complicit is an installation using two video projections, flip numbers from old clock radios, and motors. It asks, how do we comply with, or break from, cultural power structures?

The videos include repetitive segments of clapping by people outside of Wal-Mart, and by an appropriated stop-action cartoon flying lion king. The clapping from the two videos make continuously varied rhythms.

During the process of asking people to clap for a 'social music composition,' I realized the video portraits humanized the participants in a way I hadn't originally expected. I'm happy this occurred. The clapping is without a usual cause, so it becomes ambiguous. Is it an act of approval, or of musical expression? Did it serve as a rupture during a day of shopping at Wal-Mart, the epitome of economic exploitation and compliance? The participants had to make their own judgments, which is good practice to work against the way we've been regressively socialized. By aping compliance/approval, can we make a covert act of resistance? I really believe that irony is one of the best devices for humanity, or to have a working model of it at least.

Foucault suggests that things have not been getting better and better as history marches on. Rather, the appearance of things getting better all the time, such as the gains in human rights, are really just calculations by the power structures within our culture that have mutated to retain their power. The flip clock numbers, spinning and then producing new equations, are a reminder of this.

It's true that our rights are eroding under the Bush administration, but if we look at thousands of years of history, some societies have made gains over the long haul. However, I believe we are all still enslaved by power. On one hand, there are enslaved groups that serve dominant groups, but on the other hand, it's the same power structures that control all of us. Of course, that's why fighting for social justice should really be everyone's interest. You know the saying: No one is really free when others are repressed.