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Taken (Rokeby, David), 2002

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sisters—sperm tea. To motivate and train Ruby’s powers of seduction, scenes from the movies are projected over her sleeping head. This instance of acculturation by machines has analogs at least from Buster Keaton’s love-struck projectionist in «Sherlock Junior» on. Ruby finds Elizabeth Taylor’s line (to Van Johnson in «The Last Time I Saw Paris», 1954) «Don’t ever let the celebration end!» of use in her sperm gathering. In fact, every scene of «Teknolust» is itself an evocation of one or more famous movie segments: Rosetta communicates with her clones via video cell phone and microwave (see Chaplin’s «Modern Times»). Ruby is taken home to meet mom by her boyfriend Randy, a copy store employee («Mel Brook’s Frankenstein»?) Ruby’s raincoat and her visit to a «museum of copies» (with a Francis Bacon and a small crowd of identical human body casts (Marina Ambramovic) invoke the doll and automaton collection in «Bladerunner». When Ruby declares her embrace of culture as repetition and her love for Randy, she returns to Taylor’s line with new feeling: «Don’t ever let the celebration end!»


Murmurs, Chants and Biopolitics: David Rokeby

How is one taken from the crowd? David Rokeby’s surveillance installation «Taken» projects two very large views onto a gallery wall. On the left side gallery visitors are looped back onto their own images at 20 second intervals. The result is a layering of motion within the gallery, plotting at once the use of space in the gallery as a whole or the crowd and the acts of each individual visitor. The projection on the right is a grid of headshots of 200 recent visitors to the gallery, each zoomed in on and labeled with an adjective that is both arbitrary and threatening («complicit», «hungry»). Rather than conveying neutrality, the selection process is both arbitrary and orderly, reflecting the qualities of precision and error of surveillance by machines. While approximating human agency, these machine schemata persecute humans. By entrusting the policing of our boundaries to machines and biometric programming, we have delegated powers and processes of naming that excludes and condemns to alien or alienated modes of intelligence.

Rather than label persons with adjectives, Rokeby’s intelligent entity, «The Giver of Names», names

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