LIZ DESCHENES: ANDREW KREPS GALLERY • NEW YORK, NEW YORK

Believe it or not, we’re walking on air. More than ever, we accept a muted sense of actuality in order to allow a foreign substitute to replace our own. Even the vicarious experience has progressed from traditional spectatorship to a higher form of imagined participation, which by default denies the knowledge of its inherent fantasy. Walter Benjamin informed us that with the proliferation of film, the “equipment-free aspect of reality here has become the height of artifice; the sight of immediate reality has become an orchid in the land of technology.” Filmmaking has developed a dependency on the chroma key. Throw in a blue screen, and let the world be shaped anew, cell by cell, pixel by pixel. For years, the business of entertainment has relied on the easy appeal of emulated realism. It has thrilled audiences with actualizations of natural and fantastic disasters, such as tornadoes, earthquakes, meteor impacts and alien invasions.
Because reality can now be selectively chosen at will, its conditions can be abandoned. These new technologies provided a discursive context for reconstituting the process by which the mind considers new experience. Mariko Mori’s works, for example, use computer imaging to place her in fantastic scenes or to transform her into other identities, such as a mermaid or an oversized pop star doll. Toni Dove made an interactive movie (a romantic thriller) about shopping that spans two centuries.
In her show “Blue Screen Process”, Liz Deschenes takes an extreme step of undoing the entire practice of reality making. Her photographs of single-colored backdrops unmask the intended artifice in mass entertainment, and at the same time capture their underlying fleshless singularity. Artists have been considering the world in fragments and pieces, but now the process of reassembly is no longer just simple synthesis; we now live in an age of electronically mediated dreams. In the art that has followed, efforts at semblance have been rejected. In this instance, the rejection is complete.
In a large close-up photograph of a green screen, the overall solidity of the color is broken up into smaller segments resembling string-like sub particles, abstracting the undressed screen to its barest form. A large photographic backdrop hangs down a wall and a short length of the floor. The backdrop itself is a photograph, an image that has been captured and retransfered.
In a photo diptych, a colossal green screen presides over a TV studio; the cameras are off, and the set is empty. On air, this giant will disappear, its physical presence replaced by the video graphics of a news program. In the editable world, no object is immune to manipulation. Physicality recedes into the invisible, becoming a mere vessel for projected information. The blatant subversion of the actual in the hope of greater intimacy and realistic experience has, ironically, spawned a culture of doubt. We have become proficient second guessers, no matter the greater sophistication of the magicians’ tricks.

Pitchaya Sudbanthad
New York, New York
2001