Monday, March 25, 2013

Susan Hiller: Channels

I've been meaning to visit this exhibit since it opened last month, and making light of the snowy air and the rather remote location (I've never been on that side of Mile End Park before), I met up with a classmate to take in this latest show by the veteran artist.

Opening the door to the room, one is confronted with a bank of televisions, which I immediately wanted to approach, as though they played either a blue screen or grey static, there was a babble of voices coming out. But, other visitors were seated on a bench at the back of the room, and it seemed rude to block their view. So, I leaned against the adjacent wall and watched the changes on the screens. Eventually, the voices died down and there was just hum. I sat at the back and waited. After some time, everyone else departed and it was just my classmate and I, and so we debated the meaning of the work: the arrangement of televisions, the voices speaking of near death experiences, even the colours on the screens.

The pattern of the TVs reminded me of really bad 1970s wallpaper, and I wondered if the reference might be apt, as that time was when television seemed to come to the fore as a communication device and promise of a utopian future that never materialised. It's a difficult work to take apart, owing to the number of televisions and changing programming. At various times, many of them are in synch, displaying the waveform of a single voice. But, mostly, they are disparate channels, broadcasting many voices. Quite fascinating, but puzzling.

Channels runs through 14 April at Matt's Gallery.

No comments: