Monday, November 30, 2009


I was intrigued by Jonah Brucker-Cohen work to subvert networks. In class, we often discuss the construction and sustainment of said networks but who is working within to destroy them?

In fact, how is it possible for a revolutionary to de-struct a network? It seems there is a level of disavowal and complicity in these acts. Brucker-Cohen works with the infrastructure to dis-able it. In that case, is he not using the same tools? Does he not contribute to the preponderance of the technology? Why is selling the software (for cash) on his website? He is capitalist in the techno-age.

Brucker-Cohen also uses human responses to universalize his work. By utilizing physical displays (reactions based on human action) he engenders himself to the consumer. Note his human female voice that emitted from birdhouses around NYC. He uses a woman's voice (or, obviously recognizable as some stereotypical female fem-bot fantasy voice) that glibly chirps vapid (and vaguely cinematic) cliches. We recognize the robot because she is acting the part. Our own recognizance and subsequent complicity makes us impassioned about the work. We even feel injured when it doesn't go the "right" way say, if a policeman takes the birdhouse down. Brucker-Cohen "engages" us on a human level with his technological work.

His presentation on how the kinetic becomes the real was also engrossing. The drill drilling into the wall or his "Police State" installation showed the physical interpretations of an active "online" (or "networked") world. I have to question the ideology and follow-through, all the same. His choices bely an obvious flexibility in interpretation. Why so literal? Why a drill actually hitting a building? Why toy police cars? It seems tame and even a bit quaint. I feel like there is a deeper level of operation available here. The police state that was crafted at the time of his installation had more to do with an ethnographic, xenophobic, and paranoid lens than something as cartoonish as toys zipping around. Hitting a website says more about one's culture, class, intent, and education than just a literal "hitting". Why so simple, I wonder?

I did appreciate Mr. Brucker-Cohen's work in how it brought up many questions for me concerning networks and performance art.

-Nick White

No comments: