curated screening presented at
12.07 – 16.07.2017
On 26 November 1977 the Southern Television broadcast in the UK was interrupted. Audio from an unknown source broke through the local news presenter’s routine reporting. A voice announcing itself as ‘Vrillon, a representative of the Ashtar Galactic Command’ presented viewers with a warning: ‘All your weapons of evil must be removed.’ After warning of ‘false prophets’ the voice urges the people of Earth ‘to listen to the voice of truth which is within’ that in turn will bring forth ‘the path of evolution.’ Before the transmission ends, Vrillon admits: ‘We have watched you growing for many years as you too have watched our lights in your skies.’ Regular audio resumed without further interference during an episode of Looney Tunes, just as it was ending. ‘That’s all, folks.’ Widely considered a hoax, no one came forward to take responsibility. A call for action against self-destruction, the peaceful message of Vrillon also brings a kind of comfort: there is some being above, watching. Apparently, some below have even watched back.
There are many ways in which eyes may be separate from bodies. There are many ways bodies swap and narratives switch. The works in Eyes Above, Bodies Below present combinations of vision, bodies inscribed with self-actuated stories as well as scripted strands from above. Cartesian dualism is both affirmed and confronted, fluidity seeping up and emerging. Stories hop hosts, sending out beacons.
A YouTuber speaks of a divided America in Traveling (Deirdre Sargent). A divine message of warning is channeled for views, for spread; a drone eye floats above a flooded street scene bearing witness, surveying from a safe vantage point. A subject appears in Ann Gillis, her body’s opacity shifts revealing older and younger versions simultaneously occupying the same planar space, speaking a unified tale of migration in opposing languages. Next, temporal locality shifts to the future, which is the past to the protagonist’s present in 2026 (Maha Maamoun). Drawing a scenario from The Revolution of 2053 by Mahmoud Osman, a La Jetée style stationary time traveller is still in frame, eyes gauzed over, describing the frenetic movements near the site of the Pyramids. Non-temporal tourists, with their busy bodies populate the area, while behind a virtual wall buttressed by surveillance, a whole city crumbles and lives. With the final shift, a ghost-drone called Paraiso surveys Hong Kong, tracking and uploading missives from Filipina migrant workers in Lumapit Sa Akin, Paraiso/Come To Me, Paradise (Stephanie Comilang). For successful transmission of videos, photos, and messages home, Paraiso needs to find the subjects of this docu-fiction in one place. It seems bodies sharing space makes the signal stronger, while confronting the isolating effects of economic migration. Day-off gatherings of the workers provide content for the meandering and lonely eye-vessel, each a part in this equation becoming mutual nodes for the circulation of data, of home.
Traveling, Deirdre Sargent, 2016, 5:16
2026, Maha Maamoun, 2010, 9:00
Lumapit Sa Akin, Paraiso (Come To Me, Paradise), Stephanie Comilang, 2016, 25:46
Part of the screening series: Resting Transmissions / Eyes Above, Bodies Below / Nice night for a walk presented at The Ryder, London, 05.07 – 23.07.2017.
*Programme notes available here.
*Programme notes for the entire series available here.