by Paula Albuquerque
A Crackup at the Race Riots (2015) is a film made by the Belgian artist trio Leo Gabin and inspired by Harmony Korine’s homonymous novel. With most material coming from Florida, the film consists of a collage of imagery found on YouTube. This mostly consists of home videos or fragments from vlogs that document the pervasiveness of MTV culture, drug use, and coping with hurricanes, among other subjects. Through appropriation Leo Gabin have built a confrontational and realistic depiction of the present-day scenario of the post-American dream. Similar to Korine’s novel (and films), the film puts forth an interpretation of the social and political reality of what it means to be a young person in the United States. As in Korine’s book, randomly-collected story snippets with alleged documentary value are glued together. On the implications of using other people’s footage, the reply from Leo Gabin is: ‘That’s the beauty of appropriation art, using elements normally not considered art or having a non-art function to create a new work.’
Live Streaming US is a visual essay using footage exclusively generated by publicly accessible webcams. The cinematic potential of the seemingly random surveillance visuality being archived for future access and categorization is here used for adding another layer of interpretation to both the works of Leo Gabin and Harmony Korine, themselves interpretations of the contemporary visual output of American culture. This film builds a construct of available live representations that are edited as a triptych. The only text available is the title cards that divide the three sections of the film that seemingly catalogue the imagery. My choice to make a purely visual essay, without narration or some other form of verbal discourse outlining the significance of the visuals, is anchored in my intention to foreground what can be revealed by the media specificity of webcams. As an example, meaning can be derived by closely observing the choices behind the placement and position of the cameras: location, angle, and frame. Being a cinematic apparatus, the webcams construct rather than document American life as it unravels.
Paula Albuquerque recently completed her PhD in Artistic Research at the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis. She currently teaches at the Amsterdam University College, the University of Amsterdam, and the Gerrit Rietveld Academy for the Arts. She is an artistic adviser at the Amsterdam Art Fund and the Dutch Delegate of CAMIRA. Albuquerque has exhibited her art at Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam, Netherlands Media Art Institute, Bradwolff Projects Amsterdam, Boijmans van Beuningen Museum Rotterdam, Venice Biennale Rietveld Arsenale, Organhaus Art Space Chongqing, São Paulo Art Museum, Beijing Today Art Museum, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation Lisbon and Paris, and DeFKa Campis Assen Contemporary Art Museum.