Decoy Decoy is designed around a multitude of embodied experiences. The broadest feature to point out is that in one room, objects are given a sculptural power over the viewer’s body with an implied potential for violent contact. The relationship is reversed in the other room where the soft organic presence of the body is not a liability but an assertion through two scores that undermine the power of object-sanctity by foregrounding phenomena inaccessible to it.
I wanted the scores to reference opposite ends of this spectrum of human-ness that I was considering. Scents are ephemeral, shifting and difficult to codify, yet they can activate memories subconsciously. I relate this fluidity to a sense of fleshiness so essential to being a body. In the arrangement of cranial nerves, the olfactory nerve is #1 and the optic nerve is #2, but the enigmatic nerve nulla, CN0 (or if you don’t believe in zero, numerologists beware, cranial nerve #13) is our brains’ most direct line to the physical universe and the one responsible for everyone’s favorite thing, hormones, and also jumping each other’s bones via pheromones. Which is precisely what enables Ylang-ylang (the essential oil used as the scent) to theoretically perform as an aphrodisiac by containing compounds that are chemically similar enough to pheromones in order to pass. There are other essential oils famous for doing this, like rose, neroli, and jasmine, but none of those have reduplicative names which roughly translate to “wilderness wilderness” (from Tagalog).
On the other hand, the tattoo is not a product of flesh but a mark inscribed into it, a tension between the permanence of the symbol and mortality. I saw the simple line as a gesture toward the gesture, the ability to signify and codify, language eternal (but it’s also a 1” line so you’ll always have something to measure with). In these times, tattoos hold a place somewhere between religious experience and vapid consumerism, but that’s not really different from any other form of creative expression.
The vertical feedback loop creates a sucking vortex as the TV rotates slowly, suggesting a pixel purgatory or a portal to technology’s promised land. Viewers can insert varying degrees of their image into the system with corresponding levels of risk or vulnerability. A hand enters the frame without much endangerment, but there’s a higher price to move from anonymity to specificity. To capture the ultimate source of recognition, the face, and place their identity in the system, the viewer has to subject themself to the path of potential energy from the ninety-pound CRT dangling above like a blunt guillotine. And yet they are unable to gaze upon their own visage – instead their image gazes unconfronted upon their body in an absurd form of self-surveillance (while the actual security camera and motion detector carry on in the corner). Along those lines, Decoy Decoy subtly inverts the material relationship to object and technology (thanks Ryan). Traditionally, objects are granted a weighty authority, and language is soaked with positive connotations for increased size and strength. At the same time, technology is seen as an ethereal concept outside of material burdens, or even as the sole saviour of physical responsibilities. In the installation, the large sculpture is ghostly and light while the “immaterial” video possesses a precarious mass.
Meanwhile, in the box, the other television receives a distorted version of the signal that initially makes it look like a broken set and calls up the entropy that’s intolerable in the design/tech world. However, the impenetrability of that image is mostly due to the abstract original source (the feedback loop); when a form breaks the loop the image translates reasonably well, especially if it participates in a pre-understood pattern (like facial recognition). If Drain was exploring light in the black box, Decoy Decoy is doing the same with the white cube. As in Drain, the images on the television inside the box indirectly makes its presence known by bouncing soft, cold flashes of phosphorescent light off the blank interior. Without harsh shadows to create linear perspective, the interior of the box loses definition and approaches the idea of a virtual space, perceptually boundless with highly specific physical parameters. Repeated use of reflected light comes from an enduring interest in Plato’s cave, specifically the symbolism of reflected light as illusion and incident light (the fire, the sun, the TV) as the source of higher understanding or another dimension.