May 06, 2009

A Little Too Alive

Rick pointed me at this video, a hand-cranked automaton of the "Don't tase me, bro" guy. I expected it to be funny. It almost was--the first time. After that, it just got more disturbing. Seeing how the gears work made it even more so.

The artist, Jon Haddock, seems to specialize in rendering violence (including metaphoric violence, like his sculpture of the 107th Congress voting for the Patriot Act) in cartoonish ways. Some of his work actually is cartoons. Some of it just simplified, isolated in time or with pieces missing. Somehow, though, the extra work required to fully understand what you're seeing just makes it worse.

This video of another automaton, titled Testimony of Sgt. Cortez (This Kind of Monster), is a case in point. It begins with watching a set of noise-makers. You never see what makes the noise. Only the perpetrators of the crime are ever seen. The victims are not. It doesn't help.


Unknown said...

Somehow, though, the extra work required to fully understand what you're seeing just makes it worse.I think that this is precisely the point. That he had to be so calculated and mechanical in building the automatons to portray these acts is perhaps meant to contrast (or reflect?) the calculation of the perpetrators' actions - were they operating as automatons when they committed these acts, or were their actiosn carefully constructed and planned, or both?

And/or point out that with some forethought on the the part of the perpetrators (as well as people far upstream) these acts of violence could have been avoided. One man's careful effort was able to portray these things effectively. Several persons' careful effort some time previously might have prevented these things from happening in the first place.

Anyway, that's what I got out of it. Thanks for a dose of art criticism/appreciation - I really needed to get into that space in my head just now.

Stephanie Zvan said...

AA, I think you're dead on. Glad you got something more out of it than being creeped out.