• Urban Techno Cul-de-sac – by Tonya Foster

    Date posted: August 3, 2006 Author: jolanta
    In still photographs, single-channel videos and video installations, Lisa DiLillo, a New York City-based artist, focuses on peculiar interactions between elements from nature such as birds, insects, flowers, trees and also man-made arrangements and technological devices.

    Image
    Courtesy of artist

    In still photographs, single-channel videos and video installations, Lisa DiLillo, a New York City-based artist, focuses on peculiar interactions between elements from nature such as birds, insects, flowers, trees and also man-made arrangements and technological devices. Her work not only depicts the new fabricated spaces created by these natural world-synthetic-objects or system exchanges but also how nature and the natural are defined and how those definitions function as cultural practices.

    In her video installation This Call May Be Monitored, DiLillo extends her earlier investigations by instigating a situation that asks what nature is and how it functions in an urban setting. Focusing on three ubiquitous features of urban New York life; the pigeon, the cell phone and the Automated Voice Recognition System, her video cuts between the flight of a flock of pigeons and a group of pigeons gathered around a lost cell phone in an urban park. As they peck at the keyboard, the pigeons inadvertently dial a company that employs an Automated Voice Recognition System. Throughout the video there is the suggestion of both chance and rigid control. This curious encounter results in erroneous interpretations and techno cul-de-sacs. These kinds of cul-de-sacs function as sites of convergence for varying kinds of nature and of man-made objects and systems.

    These kinds of tensions are evident throughout much of DiLillo’s recent work. DiLillo’s two-channel video installation Realtime/Currency Exchange focuses her lens on crickets. In Realtime, a cricket is trapped inside a clock. On the face of the clock is an image of a sunrise sunset over a beach. The internal and biological timing of the cricket’s song is juxtaposed with the clock’s mechanical ticking. The movements of the cricket and the hands of the clock contrast the unchanging sunrise sunset.

    As the single living thing in the frame the cricket is the point of identification for the viewer. A small drama ensues. The cricket battles the hands of the clock; time. As the clock misses beats the cricket song, usually sung at night and in grassy terrain, becomes more mechanical and off the natural beat. More than keeping time, the clock alters the motions and timing of the natural.

    A slightly different process is observed in Currency Exchange. In this video, crickets consume $100 dollar bills. They eat the bills against a backdrop of leaves. Visually, the green of reproduced nature is set against the green signifier of value. DiLillo’s layering of auditory and visual juxtapositions (within and between the two videos) disorients in order to create a new visual analog for what our perceptions of nature do as cultural processes.

    Human processing and interpretations of the natural take precedence over and the place of nature as such. The cricket is contained. Though the bills’ symbolic value is meaningless to the crickets, that value can determine the shape of the natural world the crickets inhabit.

    DiLillo’s photographs (30” X 20”, digital C-prints) are distilled visions of this view of the man-made as appropriative, constrictive and viewer dependent. In her provocative series “Airtight,” vacuum-packed food is photographed against idealized images of landscape and the outdoors. The photographs look at the cultural cross-contamination occurring in man’s ever changing relationship to nature. These photos acknowledge the process of photography itself

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