CITY ART GALLERY LJUBLJANA, Ljubljana, Slovenia; AMUSE ME, International Group Exhibition
June 28 - September 22, 2013
How does television – that omnipresent, one-way disseminator of imagery, information, and ideology – affect our daily lives and inform our view of reality?
Artists: Aleksandra Domanović, Omer Fast, Vadim Fiškin, Dalibor Martinis, Guy Ben Ner, Nam June Paik, Ivan Petrović, Dubravka Sekulić, Richard Serra, Miha Štrukelj, Bill Viola
Curated by: Alenka Gregorič
The premise underpinning the exhibition is that the content received via the medium of television is most often insidiously reflected in our unconscious use of images in our thought processes. In our era, information is typically first transformed into a visual representation before it begins to acquire a textual context. The modes of communication have evolved throughout history – from oral culture to writing, from Gutenberg and printed culture to photography, radio, and television. Dictating the view of the world for centuries, the power of (spoken and written) words has now been replaced by the power of images. An image is often our first association upon receiving a certain piece of information. When we think of a person, a place, an event, or a situation, the first notion is visual; the database of textual information stored in the brain is accessed only later.
The exhibition is not intended to polemicize with McLuhan’s expression “The medium is the message”, but is focused instead on the basic proposition of Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death: the possibility that Huxley, not Orwell, was right. Instead of Orwell’s Big Brother, the metaphor for omnipresent control and censorship and the individual’s lack of power, Huxley posits that a surfeit of information turns people into passive consumers of information who eventually stop thinking altogether. “Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information; Huxley feared those who would give us so much we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that what we hate will destroy us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.”
The show presents works by eleven artists reflecting (on) the position of the individual and his or her perception of reality, a reality, like it or not, largely dictated by images conveyed via the medium of television. It reverts to the original Huxleyan idea that the truth can be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Irrelevance that drives us into endless entertainment, with the role of the main entertainer or protagonist of amusement played by none other than television.