Wednesday, May 1, 2013


(United (from Withrow), from We Soon Be Nigh!, 2013)

Both the background character and the subject of reality television share a relationship to the real as well as to the viewer.  With Extras we see a living color filling scenes with life and with the subjects of reality television we often see an ordinary person stimulate interest through its observation and framing.  Both depict the everyday, the intra-ordinary, the impossible nothingness from ordinary actions and ordinary-looking people.  In films they orient us to the scene as well as our reactions as they form a mass, a micro-democracy.  And on television they are presented to us with flaws and imperfections, dressed ordinarily, living a life not too different from our own, and this only brings us closer to this subject of the everyday.  It is their obtainability and the notion that they are just like someone you know or even yourself.

With Withrow, a house on Withrow Avenue becomes the subject to a series of incidents between a family of four.  The narrative within the household is both a parody of reality television (Intervention) and of biographical fiction based on my own experiences growing up in an environment similar to the one depicted.  The presentation of the film is split into three channels, with two that split narrative into two perspectives and with the third forming a background that depicts the surrounding neighborhood.  In its installation it is impossible to view the narrative from one vantage point alone, forcing the viewer to move between screens.  

The dialogue that happens between each character conflicts the depiction of a filmic reality.  Though their actions are realistic, the tone and intensity in their voices true to the human condition, their words form an absurdity to the film as they speak in Walla.  They are saying nothing but they are saying everything all at the same time.  From all the arguments I have witnessed, from my own family to reality television and cinema, they all say the same things, reaching the same levels of intensity and tension, someone cries, someone is broken, and their repetition is so constant that I tend to forget why they are arguing in the first place.  The question I place before the viewer is whether the subject of reality television or the real-life situation differ from those characters found in the background, performing actions of the everyday so well they are undetected by the viewer.  When the ordinary appears to be nothing...

Walking down any given street, I wonder to what might be going on in any given household.  Is that same wonder so far off from the same interest and attraction that reality television and Extras provide?  A splice of life and a complete disregard to the integrity of reality, whether something is constructed, scripted, or real it seems to matter not as the representation and mimicry have replaced the real.    

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