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01/10/2004 | Review of exhibition: The Mythological Machine

Review of exhibition: The Mythological Machine

The Mythological Machine, a group selected exhibition of international artists curated by Francesco Manacorda was held at Warwick Arts Centre, 29 September–30 October 2004.

The theme of the exhibition was to explore how the news with its purported role to inform is becoming closer to the entertainment industry, which it does through a mixture of emotional and visual manipulation. The 13 selected artists were interested in highlighting the strategies and procedures that the media machine utilises through subtle disruptions for the viewer, in order to generate questions. The exhibition was also organised to hover somewhere between curating, information organisation and display. The exhibition catalogue, the ‘Users Manual’ was in the form of a newspaper and stacked as if they had just be delivered from the printer or as an art installation which could taken away.

The work I was most interested in was a video piece by Sean Snyder, Analepsys (2002). Synder had taken news broadcasts of urban scenes from around the world and isolated images from just before or after an act of violence. I found I kept imagining the missing pieces, I know how the narrative of the news goes, the architecture giving us its clues. It almost became a game of spot the explosion and in the major discomfort of that thought, the exhibition had achieved its point demonstrating the pervasiveness of the media machine.

The exhibition stood out because, as Manacorda explained in the ‘Curator’s Talk’, of the deliberate strategy to exclude the iconic images of the Twin Towers from the exhibition but that their effect on the media is undeniable. It was easy to imagine how their presence would have influenced the viewing of the exhibition.

Another artist’s work that I found intriguing was Rainer Ganahl’s series of embroidered artworks titled Afghanistan Dialogs. He wanted to address the one-sidedness of the American media with regard to the war in Afghanistan but significantly not to generate anti-Americanism. The artist’s website contains more details on the work and a valuable review of Susan Sontag’s book Regarding the Pain of Others (2003).

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