For their show “Leak Light Time Heat” at 47 Canal (now on 291 Grand St.), artist duo Amy Lien and Enzo Camacho present five hanging sculptures made of umbrellas, tarps and an assortment of lighting and electronics. These floating sculptures are fictitious “call centers” inspired by the frenetic working environment of the malls of Metropolitan Manila (the cultural and economical center of the Philippines). They evoke the micro offices some companies use to process outsourcing. Synced to different international clocks (Western or otherwise), surrounded by 24/7 dining and commerce, the people working inside such confined quarters lose their notion of time, if not more.
Standing in these fluorescent kiosks, employees are connected to different worlds and are remotely accessible to potentially anyone on the planet, talking to thousands of anonymous persons each day on the telephone. As tiny as these kiosks are, they can also be thought of as an infinite antennae broadcasting to the ether. The continuous flashing lights and brief, rotating films projected on the fabric convey a sense of constant movement. Rotating laser lights project typical mall decorations: green butterflies, geometric figures, all in perpetual evolution.
Triggered by these tiny kiosks, the viewer can experience something like a state of hypnosis. The individual tents call to mind Morpheus’s quote in The Matrix (1999): “The desert of the real.” Indeed, these tents are an allegory of our contemporary media-driven experience. To go even further with The Matrix reference, one could think of such “call centers” as “wombs” in which each human is physically prisoner, while his or her brain is solicited to deliver a service over the phone. Thus, Lien and Camacho offer us here a real, deeply metaphysical question: Have we already arrived at the desert of the real? Is being connected to everything actually disruptive? Do we now live in a culture that continuously avoids the present moment?
by Alexandre Stipanovich