The Present Continues is a video installation that explores the concepts of presence and absence through the optics of television. The work motivates us to rethink our existence within popular culture and reflect upon the narratives enclosed inside the screens of televisions. The main interest of the research is presence and absence and how these concepts are mediated through television and new media. The installation invites the audience to approach television as something uncanny rather than comforting and entertaining. The written part adds up to the artwork by looking close into the topic and its mediation through television and new media. The presence can be understood as a physical and bodily experience that resonates with a television set, smartphone or a laptop. Another perspective on the topic connects with the ideas of alienation and connection, that can be seen as absence and presence in mental and sociological understanding. I inquire into this side of the research through analyzing social media and reality television shows as realms of connection in the modern world. This thesis is an open inquiry into the parallel concepts of presence and absence that are not necessarily confronting each other.
About the Artwork
The Present Continues exhibition took place on 20.04.2017 - 04.05.2017 in Third Space gallery.
Thesis artwork The Present Continues is an installation, that reinterprets the ideas of a television show and a teleprompter as well as the audience. The project explores the aesthetics of television by re-creating an empty talk-show set with a camera and a teleprompter facing away from the setting. The teleprompter contains a scrolling text that proposes different audience reactions that may occur while watching a television show. There is no show itself, no presenters, no technicians, no cameramen. The idea of what is absent and what is present is taken to the limit. The set is empty. Nothing is happening. But that nothingness is what helps to examine the meanings and implications of the video installation and television as well as the topics of absence and presence and its interdependence.
The experience created by the installation and its absence of familiar things may create an uncanny, even ominous feeling. A feeling which is completely opposite to the usual sense of comfort and entertainment one may get from watching television. The codes of television production are visible, but the absence of the producers and television makers creates a disparity. Another familiar yet always hidden element of television production is a teleprompter, that allows presenters to flawlessly deliver the text to the audience. In the installation, the teleprompter takes an entirely contradictory position. It faces the audience and consists of closed captions of possible reactions towards an entertainment show such as ‘silence’, ‘laughter’, ‘applause’ as well as different sound and emotions that could be interpreted as either belonging to the show or to the audience. Writing the text I used my own titles alongside found ones, combining them I want to create some kind of narrative of a show that we do not see but can only experience emotionally. The roles and power relationships have changed and now the cues are telling the audience what to do in order to deliver the message to the presenter, who remains as an absent, obscure and yet seemingly dominant figure.
The strange feeling may be created already by the name of the work The Present Continues, which is a result of a wordplay based on a grammar tense in English - ‘present continuous’. It indicates the duration and continuation of the present, which can be seen as an oxymoron since the present is only a moment of now, therefore, the continued presence can be considered as the future. The contradiction of two dimensions may push the audience towards being self-conscious of the present moment. But once we become self-aware of the moment the reality around us may seem alienating. If you become conscious of running up the stairs, you may miss a step. If you start being conscious of the laughter during laughing itself, you may suddenly stop laughing. The eerie feeling following these seconds of consciousness may result in distancing yourself. My intentions are to create the feeling of imbalance, that can encourage reflections about absence and presence to occur.