Artist: Morag Keil
Venue: Project Native Informant, London
Exhibition Title: Here We Go Again
Date: July 14 – October 27, 2018
Morag Keil, documentation of Here We Go Again, 2018
Full gallery of images, press release and link available after the jump.
Images and video courtesy of the artist and Project Native Informant, London
In a segment of the classic American children’s television show Sesame Street, a young woman runs through corridors lined on each side with doors. Embarking on an Alpaquest, she “wonders what’s behind them all, doors that lead to anywhere”, each door opening up to a portal where she learns a new letter, experiences a new world. As in video games programmed to edutain, structured through a play of infinite choices, the games mask education with fantasy, learning with escape.
Here we go again, Morag Keil’s second solo exhibition with Project Native Informant. The current work is a simulation of a previous installation at Jenny’s gallery in Los Angeles in January 2018. It too consisted of a series of doors, walls, and portals to individual rooms with videos. The narrative of the videos uses home automation as a start point to either control the decisions made or facilitate them, inviting the visitor to play or have a conversation.
Walking into the corridors, the walls are painted the color of green screen, akin to Hollywood cinema when the special effects have yet to be uploaded. The viewer is invited to provide the content by trying each door and looking through each peephole, activating the sound and lights via the motion sensors.
Two separate videos in two different rooms are motion activated to turn on when she nears them: Alexa’s voice asks the viewer to “come and play” so she can “personalize the experience”. Another asks if the viewer is “still there”. The video loops, repeating the same statements without acknowledging any response. Flashes of a BBC One inter-title of woodland animals hopping along with fairies and of scenes from popular British television series Humans and Loose Women cross the screen: Humans focuses on a female robot who is tasked to run the house and provide emotional comfort to her adolescent charges, while Loose Women is a female-led talk show discussing current themes. In both videos, the female voice elicits care and demands control.
In another room, a digital eye loops into a flat screen. When the viewer looks towards the screen, she can only see her backside repeated infinitely, as in the choices of the installation’s maze. A keyhole looks out to the construction site of the new Goldman Sachs corporate office next door. The viewer stumbles into motion activated IKEA lamps, the same ones often found in homes. Everywhere, cables and power outlets make transparent the connectivity of all the mechanisms central to the installation. In the “last room”, aspects of the installation appear missing or unfinished, as if unrendered or without content. The voice of Alexa booms through the enclosures. To exit, the viewer has to retrace her steps.