screaMachine performance proposal, with digital video projection and audio

Grafitti actions and a Jungle soundtrack are the tools of this techno rebel in his attempt to usurp the projected environment.
The performer, armed with a can of spray paint, stands in front of the projected set. As the projections and soundtrack (featuring police, surveilance etc.) progress the performer graffitis the slogan 'Information Divide = Class War' on the projection screen

URBAN JUNGLISM: A digital animated video approx. 5 minutes, DV NTSC.

The advent of new technologies is accelerating the divide between the haves and the have-nots. The techno rebel needs technology to fight technology. ‘Jungle’ music exemplifies this paradox by combining ethnocentric rhythms and patterns electronically. Graffiti actions and a Jungle soundtrack are the tools of this techno rebel in his attempt to usurp the fascism of an imagined, not-too-distant future. As wealth and the ability to amass wealth is increasingly related to technological savvy and access to information, then poverty is equally related to lack of technological access. A new class structure is being born with internet access and speed of connection as dividers or benchmarks of potential. The future of the information age is one where many may be left behind in a poorer, mechanically oriented service community, while the information techno-farmers reap the benefits of being on the top of the pecking order. This piece highlights some of the paranoid fears of a technological society where personal data is either public or easily accessed by the police; where privacy (of information or movements) is a thing of the past and ‘Big Brother’ is always watching.

The artist, seen from a roving camera position walking his dogs in New York’s East Village, is portrayed as this futuristic techno rebel. Throughout the video the artist/protagonist is seen as though looking through the lens of a surveillance camera or mounted camera in a police car. As the roving camera tracks the artist going about his daily business, the soundtrack iterates a feeling of being watched, a paranoid sense of no privacy. The recurring phrase “as I walk down the block, I feel I’m getting ‘clocked’ by the cops…” is heard while images of police cars, vans, logos and footage of police actions are choppily animated in rhythm to the grooving soundtrack realized in the techno style known as ‘Jungle’. Within the techno culture a ‘Junglist’ is an avid fan of Jungle music, so the play on words in the title, the mixing of urban jungle and the ‘ism’ of junglist is appropriate for the techno rebel. In a following scene, we see superimpositions of personal data, birth date, social security number, alien registration number etc. flow over images of the artist walking on his home block, implicating the viewer in the voyeuristic surveillance by forcing this information on them through aesthetic devices. We see, on a number of occasions, the artist, armed with a can of black spray paint, graffiti the phrase: “Information Divide = Class War” onto urban walls in the night-time, all the time being tracked and recorded by security cameras. The futility of a simple act of political graffiti in comparison to the monster global advertising, info-tainment, internet and security industries (including police and armed forces) is highlighted by juxtaposing the scrawled sprayed lettering against the neat, clean motion graphics of the animated surveillance camera views.
While critical of aspects of technological advance, ‘Urban Junglism’ also revels in the digital media that created it, further emphasizing the dichotomy of society’s need/desire to continue like a self-destructive addict, in pursuing further technological advances irrespective of the long term damage possible/probable. Technology is a beast that must be controlled (shared) by the many, or it will control them (and who knows, with enough bells and whistles, they may just like it).

Urban Junglism is one of a five part series of works titled ‘Technophobia’.

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© Gearóid Dolan, 2004. All rights reserved