Tuesday, January 29, 2008
the Electric Chair and the Bean Bag Chair: Jenny Holzer
Thomas Alva Edison, who had not been a supporter of the death penalty, became one, so that he could recommend the use of rival Westinghouse's A/C current as "unsafe" and worthy of use for electrocution and the introduction of the Electric Chair into American Folk Lore and Iconography. While Westinghouse's A/C would bring Electric Death and Torture, Edison's D/C was to be the Bearer of Light.
Janus headed, electricity is used for the art of torture, and for an art made out of the immense projection of declassified documents on immense and important structures in the art capitals of the West.
Is the magnification and projection of the documents of power, at great expense, and requiring the mobilization of large numbers of people, staffs, public relations, investors, not so much an opposition to power, as its removal to an aesthetic realm, there to be consumed as an anti-dote to feelings of "powerlessness?" Or to be embraced as a sign of "virtue?"
In her "Projections" exhibition at MassMoCa, Jenny Holzer has introduced the bean bag chair as a means of facilitating the smoothing of differences in the seeming contradiction between complete passivity and "opposition."
"Bean bag chairs are becoming more and more widespread in the world of business as research companies have declared them conducive to a more productive environment than regular chairs."
"Companies have recognized that fact that a more comfortable and less formal place to work actually encourages people to up their work rate as well as enabling creativity to flourish.
"Bean bag chairs are becoming more and more widespread in the world of business as research companies have declared them conducive to a more productive environment than regular chairs. As a result, bean bag chairs are replacing boardroom chairs. Mattel and other popular firms are manufacturing bean bag chairs to capitalize on this demand and their profits are going through the roof as a result.
Businessmen, celebrities and children alike are all enjoying the delights of the bean bag chair today. There are thousands of designs to choose from and they are able to fit into any room of the house as a result. They can match existing décor, provide a room with a focal point and even be a conductor for productive business energies. There is nothing that bean bag chairs cannot do."
The individual "letters/persons" become blocks, and then lines, of black and white, text and spaces, in which "the words of the people" become legible as the writing of One Will, to be read aloud back to them by Der Fuehrer, the Voice of the Will of the People.
"Companies have recognized that fact that a more comfortable and less formal place to work actually encourages people to up their work rate as well as enabling creativity to flourish."
At once working & creatively flourishing, the spectator observes the passing of the words of the lines of poetry as they move among degrees of legibility. The "words of the people" and its Will are transformed into a continual production and consumption of products provided by the "Projectionist" and the Makers of Bean Bag Chairs. The relaxed atmosphere provides for a cheerful appreciation and willing acceptance of the displays of Power. "More comfortable and less formal," reception of the paintings of the power point War images and memos downloaded from the NSA archives (where one may find a permanent Holzer Gallery entitled "Art Before Power") "pacifies" their threatening aspects and turns them into aesthetic re-productions of a fait-accompli.
Holzer text here is essay on Holzer's works by NSA archives director Thomas Blanton —image from NSA archives on line
"She turns every surface into a page, she illuminates not only texts but perception, and by projecting these secrets into the night she transforms the words of power into transitory bolts of lightning." From Thomas Blanton's essay on Jenny Holzer