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Mediapolis 2010
Jon Klein, Sara Kelly, Sophie Chery, Keiko Yamazaki, Alice Dunhill

It is no longer possible to be singular.

We live in a world of multitudes, pluralities and mega-cities, a post-modern dream in which all our experiences are reflections of others, our identities merely composites of those we have known. According to the UN’s Worldwatch Institute, in 2008 the number of people living in cities overtook those living in rural areas. In the same year Facebook attracted over 132 million unique users and everyday over 100 million videos are watched on youtube. Both literally and metaphorically we move within cities of experience which we share with millions of unknown neighbours. Our realities have their edges dulled by other peoples fictions, and our fantasies can be almost tangible.

Mediapolis is collection of observations by five London artists examining the ways in which we seek to define ourselves and delineate our experiences in this mediated maelstrom. In 1927, Fritz Lang saw Manhattan as …’filling the back of the stage, hanging from a sinister sky, in order to dazzle, to diffuse, to hypnotize’ and the idea of the city as a stage, of the theatricality of contemporary life is a key factor in the work of both Jon Klein and Sara Kelly.

Klein’s film ‘Taxi’ uses real taxi-drivers to replay De Niro’s monologue from Scorcese’s film in three different cities and three different languages. The result is a kind of Babel in which both place and meaning become somehow archetypal.
And this transcendent quality is there in Kelly’s installation ‘Still’. By self-consciously borrowing the personal movies uploaded by unknown web users she both distances herself from authorship and embraces their content as her own, universalising the mundane. By then reintroducing them into the physical space she seeks to complete the loop allowing us to appropriate them for ourselves.

While Kelly and Klein sublimate another’s viewpoint Keiko Yamazaki creates photographs with more than one. There is a restlessness in these rich, dreamlike panoramas which is quite at odds with any formal Cubist thinking – a recognition that subjectivity is perhaps the only state left in Mediapolis. Sophie Chery takes the point further, delivering multiplicity in parallel. In ‘Shrinkage Expansion’ we are allowed, god-like, to observe the security guard at work through his own CCTV system, while outside, a ladybird teeters on a blade of grass. At the same time words scrawled on a notepad leap off in random directions – death, neuron, caravan, circus. In Chery’s words ‘Whilst we are bound to the physical rules of our world, our personal inner time has no beginning and no end, no up no down’.

Yet if Chery appears to offer limitless freedom there is nonetheless a dystopian atmosphere to all these works – a dislocation and an anxious sense of not quite belonging, no more so than in Alice Dunhill’s ‘Yellow Line’. In this video piece we are invited to follow a yellow line around London’s Barbican Centre whilst listening to voices recounting their experiences of being lost. The idea is both absurd and horrifying and almost Dantean in its simplicity. We are both observers of the lost and lost ourselves, actors on the stage and simultaneously in the audience. However, if Mediapolis is a Dystopia, then by definition it requires its opposite Utopia - even as we are homogenised our selves may be revealed in the multitude. As Travis Bickle says in Scorsese’s Taxi Driver All my life needed was a sense of someplace to go… I believe that one should become a person like other people.’

This exhibition is an exploration of that ‘becoming’.
  art installation - still, sara kellyStill
Sara Kelly 2009