In a series of 'test cases', Knowbotic Research investigate the construction of identity, power, and communication.The installation Black_Cat confronts the constitution of subjectivity under the current post-media condition.
In this installation, 30 black balloons, filled with Helium, hover freely in space, suspended in a state of limbo, kept in subtle motion by an intermittent breeze of air. The audience is free to play with these balloons, yet a wall painted tag says:
SUPER-EXTRA DON'T MOVE!
A sound system emits standing waves and tracks the sonic feedback in order to monitor the positions and changing configurations of the balloons. The system calculates and modifies its sound frequencies according to the locations of the balloons, thus creating a resounding ambience in the space.
This self-calibrating audio system also plays the sounds of a pre-recorded voice which proclaims:
My black cat is black
My black cat is rebellious
My black cat is not easy to control
My black cat is not a variable
My black cat is undefinable
My black cat is irregular
My black cat is illegal
My black cat is never changing
My black cat is inflexible
My black cat is stubborn
At first sight, the balloons seem to be black cats that we are invited to play with. The space appears to provide a ludic environment in which everybody can 'be creative', be rebellious, play with the cats, and have fun. Several aspects of the installation soon counter this impression and reveal the black cat to be an ungraspable phantom whose presence is virtual, and easily disturbed by the interaction that the installation appears to invite.
A net which is mounted below the ceiling in order to prevent the balloons from floating away, defines the exhibition space and limits the spatial extension.
The wall tag: SUPER-EXTRA DON'T MOVE! irritates the ostensible impression of an open playground.
The movement of the balloons is liked to the sounds defining the physical experience of the space in a 'negative interaction': when the visitors touch, hit, or move the balloons around, the delicate sonic and spatial balance is interrupted, causing disturbances in the soundsphere as well as in the voices.
The black cat that is described by the voice, my black cat, seems to vanish from the scenario whenever it is actively identified with the black balloons. If we want to find out more about this phantom, we have to remain passive and ignore the ludic spectacle of the hovering balloons.
Visibility and attention play crucial roles in the recent projects by Knowbotic Research. In this new work, based on their ongoing investigations, visibility is paired with audibility, suggesting that these cats are more like Schrödinger's, which is only ever there when we do not look out for it... The logic of Knowbotic Research's earlier 'Naked Bandit' project is thus pushed one step further: rather than hiding in code, the Black Cat hides in an interactive and immersive soundscape. It withdraws into the thicket of its sonic ambience, present in the proclamations of the voice, absent as soon as we try to stroke it.
Attention is the key to the society of the spectacle, and visibility is the key to the society of control. We live in both, and contemporary subjectivity is built on the affective attachment to media images, as well as on the regimes of surveillance and fear.
SUPER EXTRA, DON`T MOVE!