Wednesday September 3, 2014

Hypermediacy: A glimpse into our media-stricken lives

By Kiersten Remster '17

Walking into ArtStreet’s current exhibition, Hypermediacy, I felt overwhelmed. Taking its name from a combination of phenomenon of the 24/7 news culture, the exhibition focuses on bringing the ideas of social media into a tangible and visible reality.

The three artists, Seth Wade, Matthew Burgy, and Christopher “etch” Weyrich, worked day in and day out to produce the installations, paintings, etc. as followers fed them local and  global news about which art would then be produced. Twitter hashtags dominated the scene of the gallery as the artists sporadically decorated pedestals, canvases, and computer monitors in order to portray various social inequalities. Subject matter includes the Michael Brown shooting, the Ukrainian-Russian conflict, the shooting at our local Beavercreek Walmart, the Ebola virus, airstrikes in Syria, and so on. 

The process by which these artists incorporated these issues was interesting because of the exhibition being a live process for a week of nonstop production of pieces. Each day, entering the gallery, the scene was entirely different. From the newspapers dominating the floor to massive art desks with stacks of paint cans piled high, each experience gave visitors a new insight on the concept of Hypermediacy. As the days progressed, the news progressed, and the artworks were produced to respond to the most recent news stories. Hypermediacy is telling a story of the inability to escape from new media that dominate our everyday lives, whether we like to admit it or not or even whether we are following, to any degree, an unfolding story.

As an admittedly particular sort who is known for cleaning her own room and even those of her friends, as well as for “cloroxing” every doorknob on her residence hall floor during Freshman year, I found within the exhibition a tremendous sight of organized yet disorganized chaos that initially catalyzed the natural anxiety within me.  I thought to myself, “Did I just step into a recycling dumpster or is this actually an art exhibition?”  I felt compelled to clean and organize everything in the gallery. Once I liberated myself from that impulse, my next reaction was to warn myself that if this collected “mess” was indeed art, I needed to be cautious not to trip over the countless newspapers, pamphlets, and magazines that were strewn about the gallery.  I became sensitive that my inner neat freak, now suppressed in the service of art, could possibly destroy the artists’ masterpieces. 

But then, as my vision focused in on the numerous televisions set up around the room with large monitors outlining the headlines of major world events, I stopped immediately at a vintage TV on which the word “PAUSE” had been applied to the screen. Pasted on the top of the TV was a masking tape outline of a fallen figure with the forms of foil bullets arranged within the same outline. A sketch of Michael Brown was taped to the TV with his arms stretched out resembling a figure of the crucified Christ, while his fingers formed the shape of a gun. 

This portion of the exhibition particularly struck me because of the relationship of the word “PAUSE” to this dreadful event that recently hit our headlines. Pause and death.  In our everyday lives, days and hours slip past us, as if we blink and the next day is already at our feet. We go through the motions of each monotonous day because it seems to get us through the week; many are going through that week simply to enjoy a happy event at the end of each week. Some of us sadly enough even live by the phrase “TGIF.”  But “PAUSE,” a young man was killed.

The relationship to this very present word “PAUSE” centered across the vintage set reveals to us that we must put our busy lives on “pause,” not to rest but to notice and be aware. We must break this habitual autopilot of going through the daily motions and turn our attention more purposefully and caringly to national and global conflicts. We must put our lives on hold—but not on ice— to give some degree of due attention and perhaps concern over tragic events such as the death of Michael Brown.

These tragedies bring awareness to issues we face such as police brutality and racial tensions that continue to exist despite what our legislature delegates.

Hypermediacy displays this message in a way that relates to our disorganized, media-stricken lives. This exhibition transforms daily twitter hashtags into artistic installations, allowing visitors to relate to both national and global conflicts in tangible forms. Yet more to the point, it is an exhibition that captures attention about news events and reminds the viewer to pause and perhaps respond in ways that go far beyond the visual.

Hypermediacy can be viewed at ArtStreet White Box Gallery, now through September 25th. Or follow along on social media with #hypermediacy. 

Kiersten Remster is a sophomore Art History and German student at University of Dayton. She is the new student arts writer at ArtStreet and is very excited to be a part of the ArtStreet family. Kiersten has been a competitive swimmer her whole life and is continuing her swimming career through the Dayton Master's program. She is also serving on the Academic Affairs Committee this year as vice president and is looking forward to working with faculty in order to improve Dayton's academic curriculum.

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