Wednesday November 30 2011, Open Archive Melbourne
Thanks to Jared Davis, Helen Grogan, Lara Thoms, Ry David Bradley
Photography by Jo Duck
With his history of performances that engage with popular culture and consumer technology Emile Zile recently premiered OMG_Sisyphus. The Greek mythology of Sisyphus, a tale of burden and absurdity, is used as a prop on which to enact a contemporary performance situation: being on YouTube. The performance happens in the midst of laptops, amplifiers, digital cameras, projectors and a heavy looking stone that the artist carries in from outside. In recent performances of OMG_Sisyphus at (Open Archive Melbourne, 30 November 2011, Palais Paradiso Amsterdam 16 February 2012) Zile enacts a humorously calculated switch. In his treatment we begin to understand that the laptop/webcam is now a rock, or vice versa. Its physical presence, weight, and texture become entwined in a passage of worship, as the ubiquitous Apple product is now something more equivalent to a Chinese scholar stone (Gongshi). Throughout the whole performance it is as if through some application of post-production what we should be seeing as a computer (the adored gateway to online audiences) is now a small volcanic boulder. Simultaneous slips between live action and published content begin, as Zile sits staring at the rock we imagine him staring at his computer, alone in a room while addressing an imagined YouTube audience. In doing so the actual live audience sitting in the gallery space is distanced, even denied.
At some points in the piece we are made to feel the joys of web 2.0 publishing, light relaxation muzak plays, we are all connected by technology. But the gallery space begins to fall out of step as the artist struggles against what appears to be self-doubt and loneliness. The rock remains motionless on a small table under lamplight. Is real life different to projected life? Maybe it used to be. Zile seems to suggest a new friction is built in this crossover rather than a seamless merger. Whilst various elements of the performance are online, the crux of this work hinges on being present live in the gallery space – where multiple facets of contemporary being are felt and fired simultaneously. As it happens we are pointed toward a space where states of alienation, corporation and intense connectivity collide into a state of indivisibility.
- Ry David Bradley, February 2012