jonCates’s BOLD3RRR project was performed (and recorded) live via Skype for MediaLive 2012 at Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, July 14 2012.
The almost 24 minute long performance mashes sound and images in what is sometimes an incomprehensible mix of sensory triggers. A semiotics overload as it were.
Watch the performance here:
Sonically, jonCates adopts what we can describe loosely as ‘white noise’ (static noises, clicking sounds, distortions etc.), along with a spoken word narration soundtrack – overlaying fragments of the two in a manner that often, interweaves them together as a unibody.
Pictorially, jonCates pulls images and screen grabs from his screen and overlays them with typographical renderings of his spoken word script.
The potent mix of these interject each other, disrupting and interfering with each other in an juxtapositional collage to create a non-linear narrative that challenges the viewer to either negotiate the work in a “meaningful” manner by attempting to understand or rationalise its semiotics, or experience the work for what it is – a mishmash of audio-visual sequences.
BOLD3RRR does not establish a single stream or path that the audience can follow along (unlike more “traditional” art forms). Its multi stream, non-hierarchical semiotic structure is inherent to the success and failure of the work.
While they do not practice in the same discipline, encountering jonCates’ BOLD3RRR reminded me of an interview a local television station did with Singaporean director Kirsten Tan.
Watch the interview below:
At one point during the programme, Tan reflected upon her work and posed the question if we as audiences (or even creators [sic]) are too fixated in attempting to rationalise, intellectualise and find “meaning” in a piece of work that we forgo the ability to just experience and respond in an organic and emotive manner.
Perhaps the underlying subtext to BOLD3RRR is this challenge to the audience: how will we choose to respond when we become overloaded with sensory data? Do we “expand” ourselves and attempt to take it all in or do we let ourselves go and drift in between the consciousness of the “flow”? This is not unlike what the contemporary state of the media is like now. We are constantly surrounded by triggers (wittingly or unwittingly) that prod our stream of consciousness, resulting in a now commonplace lament that our attention spans are becoming increasingly fragmented.
For creators, we have to grapple and walk the uneasy line of rationalising our work or working more instinctively. Sway too far in trying to justify one’s work with critical theories and rational reasoning and we run the risk of making something out of nothing; “over-intellectualising” the work in bids to justify its existence. Work too close to the other end of the spectrum and we now have to deal with looking like modern day pretenders to the legacy of Jackson Pollock and co.; making esoteric work that is inaccessible and self indulgent.
Just as BOLD3RRR is all about navigating through the different sound and picture sequences, we too as art consumers and creators must decide and negotiate how we wish to traverse this wild, wild world sometimes filled with contradicting paths.