Dead. Air. Management., 2018

Dead. Air. Management.

Two-channel HD video with sound, 14" 36"

Consisting of video material split across two channels and a single audio track, Dead. Air. Management. explores issues of standardisation, repetition, and appropriation in the music video. Existing somewhere between ‘video-essay’ and performance, the work incorporates three lip-synched performances to a single off-screen narrator, alongside analyses of music videos (including brief discussions of the work of Taylor Swift, Lana Del Ray, and Shakira). Constrained to repeating a single ‘confessional’ monologue – a lip-sync performed by three actors, all mimed to a single voice – the performers appear simultaneously life-like yet inanimate, ruminating on the nature of choice in various social contexts. Their lack of agency is contrasted with the fantasy space of the music video, a site in which ‘autonomy’ is synonymous with the commodity form and personality is reducible to a brand.

As the video unfolds the idea of a single theoretical frame of reference is undermined as the sequence of images cuts with-and-against the time of a metronome. The original vocal recording to which the actors lip-sync (voiced by Colette Dalal Tchantcho) is performed in several affective registers, from the slow meter of a documentary voice-over to the bubbly syntax of a shampoo commercial to the sung refrain: “sun, sun, sun”. The voice is both, recalibrated as productive – exemplifying neoliberalism’s contradictory rhetoric of ‘individual freedom’ paired with constant self-management – and exceeds this fact.

Credits: Colette Tchantcho, Olivia Furber, Kaja Pecnik (performers) Daniel Dressel (camera)

Presented as part of Labour’s Own Sounding Ideal, Pump House Gallery, London.

[23 January – 31 March 2019]