by Mark Tribe on April 30, 1997 at 17:26:56:
in the cab on the way back down to soho from the museum of modern art, we
couldn't think of anything nice to say about diller & scofidio, whose talk
we had just seen/heard.
the work they showed seemed heartless and contrived, and thoroughly lacking
in the kind of playful engagement with technology that makes some new media
art slightly amusing.
d & s are a prime example of the dusty generation of new media luminaries
who built careers when there was very little interest, and even less
talent, in the field.
take "indigestion," which they produced on a grant at the banff centre
(also known as the "barf centre" for all the lame-o tech schlock they've
pumped out over the years) in canada.
in this interactive video installation, a murder narrative is played out on
a virtual dining table. users can select among multiple permutations of
gender and 'class' (which, in their text, d & s carefully place in quotes),
and replaying the story with variously accented argots. first he's a
cowboy, then she's an intellectual. how clever! the result is unbearably
flat. not the seductive flatness of postmodern schizophrenia, but the tired
flatness of over-determined neurosis.
d & s can certainly talk the talk, and give their work an intelligent, if
predictable, spin. but while their attempt to push all the right buttons
seems to be successful with grant panels, it doesn't wash with me. i'd
rather see their big budgets go to someone with an ounce of creativity.
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