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United States | installation in public space

 Dara Birnbaum
«Rio Videowall»

Ten years after the making of «Technology/Transformation: Wonder Woman,» it is this seamless weaving of ideology and the social body through the video interface of a global feedback system that becomes the focus of Birnbaum's «Rio Videowall.» A public art wall project commissioned and designed for an Atlanta shopping mall «Rio Videowall» extends Birnbaum's interrogation of the simulacrum as a site of contestatlon to an investigation of the ways in which a proliferation of image and data flow occupy the social body, subjecting the reordering of difference and sameness to an ideological circularity. In the middle of the public plaza, Birnbaum has placed a video bank of twenty five monitors. When the plaza is emptied of people, the data bank of images exist in a dormant state of aestheticized tranquillity: filled with digitalized images of the natural landscape existing on the site of the mall before it was built. However, when the shoppers fill the plaza, the movement of their bodies interrupts this smooth simulacrum landscape. For within the mall itself, two live surveillance cameras are linked to the video wall, so that when pedestrians pass in front of the camera, the silhouettes of their bodies are keyed into the pristine Edenic state of the image data banks. As the live body is dematerialised through the surveillance camera and rematerialized as an image in the plaza, the body's shell is simultaneously filled with live satellite transmissions from CNN: Atlanta, of course, being the hometown of Ted Turner's media empire. In the process, a riot confusion of feedback and transmission, appearances and copies, ensues: pointing to the interface of the video screen as a mechanism of representation that leads, in Paul Virillio's words «from the aesthetics of the appearance of a stable image to the aesthetics of the disappearance of an unstable image.»

(source: Dot Tuer, «Mirrors and Mimesis: An Examination of the Strategies of Image Appropriation and Repetition in the Work of Dara Birnbaum (Part 2)», in: N. Paradoxa, Issue 3 (May 1997),