Video Pool presents Dominic Gagnon’s Rip in Pieces America

December 7, 2009 – January 8, 2010
Video Pool Studio – 3rd Floor, 100 Arthur St (Artspace building)
Tuesday – Saturday: 12:00 – 4:00

Video Pool is very excited to present the North American premiere of Dominic Gagnon’s Rip in Pieces America, a feature-length, single-channel projection of banned homemade short videos.

As Gagnon watched video on the Internet, he noticed that certain homemade clips were flagged for their content. As they were disappearing from free hosting sites, he started to save and edit them in a capsule format. Working in a gray zone of copyright law, Gagnon’s collection and grouping of the videos acts as a means of contextualization and preservation.

Dominic Gagnon is an inventor, director, installer and active performer. He considers cinema as a technique for measuring the immeasurable or as a discipline of chaos. Since 1996, he has made public presentations of moving images and installations, invented machines and concepts, and performed sound works at galleries, festivals and biennials around the world. His recent work, Rip in Pieces America, premiered at the Centre Pompidou in Paris.

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From UPTOWN Magazine January 7, 2010:
Vanishing video
Dominic Gagnon’s RIP in Pieces America is a compelling look at online censorship

Vanishing videoSelf-described inventor, director, installer and active performer Dominic Gagnon’s epic 60-minute video Rip In Pieces America is a vision of policing, censorship and erasure, in which power is exercised not by authorities but by ordinary people against each other. What is this brave new world? Web-based file sharing sites, such as YouTube.

RIP America serves as an archive of content that has been removed from the Internet, flagged as ‘inappropriate’ by other online users. As such, Gagnon joins other artists concerned with censorship on the web and the need to preserve ephemeral online posts. Delete City, developed by Jeff Crouse at Eyebeam, is a WordPress plug-in that will automatically conduct user-defined searches on sites such as YouTube, Flickr and Facebook, automatically updating your blog with content that has been deleted by the original host. The plug-in also issues an invitation to the author to comment on why the content was removed.

While the Eyebeam project removes the necessity of involving oneself in tracking online events, Gagnon is consumed with the task, referring to it as an obsession. He spent two weeks before the 2008 U.S. election combing the Internet for videos slated for removal by site administrators.

All but one of the vloggers (video bloggers) featured in RIP America are male, making me feel uneasily as if I were being subjected to a series of speed dates. Their piercing gazes are not diminished by web-cam technology; each earnest, outraged and hysterical man, some in sunglasses, balaclavas, crone masks, sombreros, Stetsons and scary clown make up, is more disturbing and intense than the last. Topics include FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) concentration camps, mind control through implanted microchips and survivalist tactics. An interlude of sorts – a skinny guy with bad teeth wearing his bandana ’90s L.A. gang-style keens Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prison Blues – is not a respite but merely a different kind of discomfort.

One of the more worrisome implications of this video is that there is a small kernel of truth at the core of each of the dubious opinions expressed by the vloggers. It’s a challenge to try to process each argument in the onslaught.

That said, the video never degenerates to the level of a freak show. Despite the urgently paced editing of heavily pixelated clips, the vloggers speak for themselves; Gagnon’s restraint reveals his genuine empathy for the unexpectedly appealing subjects of RIP America. More than a simple record of the fear and frustration permeating the day, or an effort to expose the Internet as a mass of corporate and governmental interests, Gagnon has staged a conversation among members of this virtual community, juxtaposing content to draw out various opinions and points of view.

Best of all, in the spirit of Internet file-sharing, Gagnon encourages people to pirate their own copies of RIP America. So, if you can’t make it to Video Pool before this show closes on Jan. 8, I know a guy who can hook you up.

– Sandee Moore

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~ by cineflyer on December 12, 2009.

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