I’m so taken with Andrew Norman Wilson’s work I’m going to devote
the whole first week of this DVblog season to it.
He initially sent us a longish piece, Networking with Andrew Norman Wilson
made with Nicholas O’Brien of Bad At Sports.
It’s wonderful but pretty huge so you should definitely go and
look at the Vimeo version there.
On Monday, Weds and Friday of this week we’ll post smaller
pieces extracted from that (but without the commentary or
‘interview’ as it is styled elsewhere [-the text on the BAS page linked above]) ,
On Tuesday and Thursday we’ll post two of Wilson’s FlowSpot Tests
with some accompanying explanation from him.
I find this work in general very exciting because it does a lot
of interesting, nuanced and often rather funny (and I’m in favour of funny -
there are very few great works of art which contain no funny at all)
and intially apparently contradictory things.
Let me give you my take on it.
The Webinars are all composed entirely of footage sourced from Pond5
“the worlds stock media marketplace” . The FlowSpot Tests are performative
pieces involving bizarre consumer items sourced from e-bay and wallmart and
deployed in a 21st Century updating of silent movie Lloyd-Keaton-Chaplin
deadpan involving, too, a certain degree of slapstick
and displaying a deliciously calibrated sense of the ridiculous.
The Webinars (a least when one takes account of their titles and certainly viewed
in the light of the commentary from “networking”) are a kind of consumerist
The intent is celarly in some sense satirical but the pieces take risks in
that they don’t stop and end in critique – there is an understanding of
how toxically compelling some of this imagery is and to some extent they
toy with celebrating this.
Wilson is clearly a natural movie maker. He doesn’t restrain himself from
visual flourishes and jokes which are by no means integral to any
satirical case but make the pieces more fun to watch.
(The distortion effects applied to objects in the periphery of the
action in FlowSpot Test #5 are a case in point.)
Additionally, and most impressively, there is a muddying of the
waters in Networking… (and by implication the
Webinars and FlowSpot Tests) whereby
cogent and apparently straightforward philosophising is allowed
to cross pollinate/contaminate with the satire and vice versa,
leaving the viewer with -ahem- work to do.
This work is not glib; it takes risks – in order to maintain its
high level potency it risks misunderstanding.
A look at Wilson’s CV shows a spell spent working for a
labour union and I read the impulse behind these pieces
as radically anti-commodification and corporate mind rot.
Agit-prop, thankfully, it’s not, but “something rich and strange”
– radical art for interesting times to come.
Nice to see this when so many younger artists seem to be
tempted by a career orientated and somewhat cynical celebration
of that same deadend emptiness.