I See Through Every Image.
(A souvenir for Laarni; A planting
template for Belladonna seeds), 2013
Fortuna poster, plywood and Belladonna seeds
118cm x 147cm x 2cm
I See Through Every Image. (A souvenir for Laarni; A planting template for Belladonna seeds) along with Same, Sleepers, mask filter, etc . is part of Adam Chodzko’s installation Room for Laarni, Image Moderator which collectively explores the experience of being psychologically overwhelmed by the process of relentlessly viewing imagery flowing between communities and researches this through trying to empathise with the character of Laarni, a remote image moderator for a social media site. I See Through Every Image… is made from an old Fortuna cigarette advertising poster, mounted on board and laid horizontally, with a text cut into its surface describing an internal monologue playing out the dilemma of the relative levels of pleasure one permits oneself, or expects, in relation to the happiness of others. The text is adapted from one of psychiatrist R.D. Laing’s ‘poems’ from Knots*, 1970 (see below). Full stops in the text are holes cut right through the board. These breathing spaces or transitions within the monologue allow a particular distribution of the Belladonna seeds which sit in a cup on the surface of the poster. This piece can therefore function as a planting template, or filter, or mask. The Fortuna poster, from the early 1980’s, advertises the top selling Spanish cigarette brand and shows young, fit, attractive, bodies cavorting in the surf, engaged in some form of play, with faces united in their apparently collective expression of joy and laughter. A male figure with his back to the camera dominates the foreground and his muscular arm stretches out diagonally across the frame to lead our gaze towards where the advertisers have strategically placed the image of a packet of cigarettes as the object of desire. Meanwhile his playmates’ gaze seems to be focussed on enjoying something much lower in the image (his genitals? his swimming trunks have fallen?). It is a confusing image of health, eroticism, cleanliness and toxicity. The cigarette packet and the Fortuna brand, have been half-cropped by Chodzko shifting our gaze back onto the image. Fortuna was the Roman goddess of both good or bad luck: she could be represented as veiled and blind, (as in modern depictions of Lady Justice) in order to convey her objectivity (the opposite of a subjective moderation) whilst also representing capriciousness. Belladonna is poisonous, but the name is derived from Italian and means “beautiful woman” because the herb was used in eye-drops by women to dilate the pupils of the eyes (it temporarily paralyses the ‘accommodation reflex’) to make the eyes appear seductive, open to all, seeing everything, unfiltered.
Understanding the complexity of our interrelationships with others through our perception of how they appear to be, which itself is conditioned by what they want us to see, is part of the work of the image moderator (here as Laarni). I See Through Every Image is presented as a gift to her, a ‘souvenir’ or apparatus for alleviating the fatigue we presume she experiences from constantly having to look at ‘us’.
From the Room for Laarni catalogue:
…we are all image moderating the whole time. Scanning, moderating, filtering, everything, everyone, to work out the state of things; Am I ok? Are you ok? Are you ok for me? Are we happy? Is this fun? Indeed these concerns, adapted from an R.D. Laing ‘poem’ from his book Knots, are, for me, the questions motivating the making, sharing and viewing of images sent via social media. Our worries regarding this exchange become embedded (literally) within a recycled ‘happy’ advertising image within the exhibition…
The text (adapted from one of psychiatrist R.D. Laing’s poems – also referred to as ‘dialogues’ or ‘patterns’ – from Knots, 1970):
They are not having fun.
I can’t have fun if they don’t.
I might get fun out of finding out
why they are not having fun.
They might be having more fun than me.
How can I have fun if they are
having more fun than me?
I need to show them I am having
more fun than them.
So that they will think they are
having less fun than me.
But how can I have fun
if they are having
less fun than me?
Because I will worry that they are not having fun.
They are not having fun.
I can’t have fun…
* This is a further exploration of concern for the pleasure felt to be experienced by others in relation to ourselves, based around the R.D. Laing poem that Chodzko first adopted in his video work, Knots.
Room for Laarni, Image Moderator catalogue
Conversation between Jennifer Higgie, Andrew Renton, Adam Chodzko
Editor Andrew Renton. Published November, 2013
Download pdf of catalogue