7th Screengrab International Media Arts Award

Pinnacles Gallery

Townsville, Queensland, Australia

December 19, 2015 -  February 26, 2016

Curated by Mitch Goodwin

Guest Judge Fiona Trigg, Assistant Curator at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image.

Exhibition documentation by Mitch Goodwin

 

 

Panopticon I (2015) selected as a finalist in the 7th Screengrab International Media Arts Award 2015.

 

2015 Theme :: Resistance

Disrupt the information flow

 

We live in contradictory times. Irrespective of our geography we are wedged between the hegemony of entrenched oppositional forces. In a sense, we are the collateral damage of their friction. Of the old rallying against the new, of bold invention and nostalgic yearning, of extreme science and conservative politics, of terror and anti-terror.

 

Art endures in between these kinetic forces, lurking at the edges of their chaotic and often destructive interplay. As Jacques Ranciere has observed, “to resist is to adopt the posture of someone who stands opposed to the order of things”. In this space, art – and its protagonists – demonstrate “a willing deference to established forms of domination and exploitation.”

Art can resist time, the object of art can persist long after the fight has been won or lost. We put up monuments of art to speak on our behalf when all else has seemingly failed. The act of its creation resists the forces that would seek to oppose its very existence. Such is the oppositional nature of politics, capital and culture.

 

Screengrab7 seeks works that not only interrogate the status quo by resisting the doctrine of their inevitability but also demonstrate that these entrenched systems of control are themselves resistant to change. Resistance can be viewed as both a liberating force and an agent of destabilisation. Resistance can disrupt the flow of information, bend the circuitry, jam the signal and hack the network.

If art is a political act, then media art is a technologically enabled one. How can screen-based media embody the notion of resistance? What is it that we see when we peer out of the virtual panopticon of our contemporary cities, shopping malls, office blocks and vessels of transportation with our networked devices of communication?

 

Indeed by making art we are conducting an act of resistance. We are subverting accepted norms, we are stepping outside of the media stream – or directly in front of it – and making a calculated statement. Through media interventions we can point toward alternative pathways, expose bias and stand apart from the common binary politics of our times. As Graham Harman notes, “As philosophers, we're not supposed to be swept along with the Zeitgeist, we’re supposed to be resisting it.”

 

We resist political rhetoric by asking questions of language, of history and of context. We resist surveillance by pointing the camera back at the watchers. We resist the recurring bile of racism, sexism and bigotry by subverting stereotypes by creating new forms of beauty and a more interconnected sense of identity. We resist the predatory nature of capital and the upward linearity of growth and accumulation by challenging notions of value and currency with alternative definitions of wealth and new expressions of personal freedom.

 

For Screenrab7 all forms of resistance will be considered: the politics of resistance, the physics of resistance, the messiness of resistance, and the urgency of resistance. In this age of contradiction – and as Bruce Sterling has observed, of “favela chic and of gothic high-tech” – it is the duality of our relationship to the forces of order and control that is under examination here.

 

We resist, not as some might have it – to impede or to destroy the status quo – indeed, that would be too obvious, too easy, and too predictable. Resistance through art making, through creative expression, is subtler and more nuanced than that. The act of resistance in art, as in life, is to demand amore complex, empathetic and interconnected human experience.

 

Screengrab Director Mitch Goodwin

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