Ami Clarke

Weisse Wand

Weisse Wand.

The footage is of a ‘bill-board’; an advertising hoarding that is made of a fabric that would usually be adorned with adverts.  It was filmed in Hackney, in the autumn of 2006.  It has now returned to its original function as an advertising display.   It uses lo-resolution digital film footage and the sound was recorded at the same time as filming.

The work takes the fabric of an advertising hoarding, the raw material as such, and subverts its usual use-function to produce a sound and visual work.  The local traffic passing nearby, recorded at the same event as filming, seems to affect the rippling fabric and produces a sound and visual combination that is surprisingly hypnotic in itself.

“In a 1964 seminar, the psychoanalyst and theorist Jacques Lacan observed that the myth of the two painters; (Zeuxis and Parrhasius), reveals an interesting aspect of human cognition (1):

While animals are attracted to superficial appearances, humans are enticed by the idea of that which is hidden.”

“Zeuxis (of Heraclea) and Parrhasius (of Ephesus and later Athens) were painters who flourished during the 5th century BC. They are reported four hundred years later in the Naturalis Historia of Pliny the Elder to have staged a contest to determine which of the two was the greater artist.

When Zeuxis unveiled his painting of grapes, they appeared so luscious and inviting that birds flew down from the sky to peck at them. Zeuxis then asked Parrhasius to pull aside the curtain from his painting, only for Parrhasius to reveal the curtain itself was a painting, and Zeuxis was forced to concede defeat.

Zeuxis is rumoured to have said: 'I have deceived the birds, but Parrhasius has deceived Zeuxis.' In other words, while his work had managed to fool the eyes of birds, Parrhasius' work had deceived the eyes of an artist.” (2)

The curtain relies on the desire of the viewer to see behind it, to maintain its illusion.

Advertising relies on a complex set of expectations that stem from the systemic desire of capitalist culture, to be able to perform its function.  Without this, advertising would be a strange and functionless part of life, as it does not serve to educate or improve the situation of the population further in any real sense, only to enhance the chances of one particular product being sold over another.

The title “Weisse Wand”; ‘blank canvas’, directly relating to the now blank advertising hoarding, references the misconceived notion of a ‘point zero’, whereby the ideology of the state has in fact achieved its ultimate goal and complete success: by the population regarding this ideology as something so matter of fact, it is no longer ‘regarded’ at all.  It is accepted without question.

The title, references New Wave German film-making of the mid-70’s; the Wim Wenders film ‘Kings of the Road’ which “ends with a close-up of a cinema billboard reading ‘Weisse Wand’ – meaning ‘white screen’, or blank slate, time for renewal.” (3)

(1) Zeuxis and Parrhasius, Wikipedia the free encyclopaedia -
(2) Slavoj Zizek takes this further in his book 'how to read Lacan', page 114, chapt. Lacan as a reader of Mohammad Boyeri)
(3) (John Patterson – A film without a cinema – Guardian, 2 October 2004.)