Cinopticon is inspired by omnipresent surveillance technologies, but the work is impossible to replicate digitally. I wanted to use the sensory-affective potential of an embodied experience in the space to address the seductions of the screen in a way that didn’t itself fall prey to these very same mechanisms and aesthetics. While Cinopticon: Gaze self-consciously winks towards a selfie-opportunity, the installation could remove your reflection at any moment. The dynamic of the work exists as something that both drives and disappoints you as reach for your phone to capture your mirror image, and all of a sudden: it’s gone.
Things can disappear in an instant, so perhaps I should have known better regarding the catastrophes of COVID. I made Cinopticon: vlog to honour a performance that had been programmed, but will not eventuate: a re-performance of Katthy Cavaliere’s a moment alone (1998). I decided to compress Katthy’s original duration of 2 hours into a cyberspatial condensation of 20 minutes, a timeframe I thought more befitting to our accelerated expectations of rapidity and novelty from all things online.
Katthy’s method of transfiguring the private into the public feels like the light cast by opening the door to someone’s bedroom while they are asleep, and you can hear them breathing. Her work often played upon light and shadow. I think of Katthy’s silhouette in one of the photographs from afterlife (2011); all of the traces our body leaves. These days, it is not only the private made public but the previously public that is privatised, and there is profit to be made. Every trace becomes a trail.
The title a moment alone has an obvious resonance in the days of iso, but the links with Cinopticon: Vlog can perhaps be articulated best through the old Walkman slogan: ‘Never again alone’. Even during our enforced solitude, it seems impossible to be truly alone. Yet that doesn’t mean we aren’t lonely when we are left to our own devices. Katthy describes her actions in a moment alone as ‘leaving a physical expression, a cloud of thoughts behind’. So it is for us today. Practically, this is where all our thoughts and physical expressions end up: the cloud.
Giselle Stanborough: Cinopticon is open from 7 Aug – 26 Sep (Wed-Sun, 10am-5pm).