528 (2021)

Installation, Video Loop, Zoetrope, 18-channel audio

 

Based on Camus' musings on absurdity, 528 is a retelling of his essay on The Myth of Sisyphus using the juxtaposition of three elements— a video loop of a smoke stack emitting smoke from an actual cremation, a zoetrope showing a photo animation of smoke from a stick of burning sage, and 18 channels of looping audio clips of various texts translated to morse code— the 18 audio files comprised of excerpts from books, essays, speeches from political figures, news broadcasts, meditation mantras, random emails, comments from youtube videos, and text messages from past correspondences.

To adapt to the current situation, real life has increasingly interwoven itself to the virtual, many people spending most of their days anxious and isolated in front of a screen. In 2020, youtube viewership averages on self care videos (i.e. guided meditation, yoga, nature sounds, etc) have increased 40%, and videos labeled #WithMe have increased average viewership by 600%. In exploring these online spaces, there is a multitude of content on new age healing and mysticism, and a significant number of views and engagement. It has become a virtual community space where people leave comments and interact with each other, sharing words that range from the banal to the gut wrenchingly personal.

One common topic discussed in these spaces is the Solfeggio frequencies, a number of specific frequencies supposedly derived from the original musical scale. One of which is the frequency 528 hz, which some new age healers and sound therapists refer to as the “god frequency,’ and believe it to miraculously heal a myriad of sicknesses, repair the DNA, and claim to bring transformation, clarity, and inner peace.

 

Whether or not the messianic claims of these virtual snake oils and online gurus have any substance is not the point, it's the narratives that surround such online spaces—how ideas and beliefs are formed and processed, how we manage to commune with each other where isolation is an imperative, and that ultimately brings us to the basic human need and desire to connect, even in what seems to be apocalyptic times.

 

It is this idea apposed to imagery of two ‘smoke stacks’ eternally emitting smoke, that the work also speculates on what life after the end of the modern world would be like. It is at this point where we may perhaps return to the smoke signal, being one of the oldest and most basic forms of long distance communication. We are at a point in our history where it is no longer impossible to imagine a future when modern communication and ways of connecting to each other as we know it, cease to exist. What will become of these virtual spaces? When we have limited access to the tools we use to tell our stories, what stories would we be telling and how would we be telling them then?