The work BOXES+LOOPS by THE SPINNING BOY is a dialogue between the comfort and anxiety created by limitations. The work looks at the positives and negatives of restricting space and time. Rhythm, by definition, is satisfying because we know what’s coming next, but repetition is monotonous. Knowing our place in the world makes us secure but also constricts us.
BOXES+LOOPS is heavily influenced by concepts explored by Gilles Deleuze in his 1968 publication ‘Difference and Repetition’, which looks at ideas of how change happens over time. Deleuze’s post-structural approach suggests we create meaning through difference; we assess everything compared to what preceded it. This is how we understand music of all kinds, but the repetitive component is heightened in music composed of digital samples and loops. Furthermore, using non-synched loops, a subtle time shift occurs, creating the evolving process of phasing. Deleuze notion of ‘virtuality’ points out that there is no such thing as perfect repetition; everything repeated adds more ‘noise’ with the ‘signal’ and creates something new.
The media used is a combination of lo-fi audio, created live through improvised performance, electro-acoustic instruments, delay pedals and various quasi-obsolete technologies, and looped video projections shot by the artist.
The videos take the form of short visual essays on urban locations and performances by actors playing characters created through improvisation. These videos are played back in ‘cut-up’ sections, repeating visual motifs or characters soundbites that combine with the audio to create an integrated two-channel work.
BOXES+LOOPS takes the form of a trilogy following the artist’s own experience dividing his time between three continents from 2003 to 2015. Interrogating the conflict between the familiar and flux, the work has three settings: Ireland, India, and the USA, and thus entering the ‘Old’, ‘New’ and ‘Third World’ contexts, questions emerge as to what is quotidian. An act, a hope, or an environment may appear exotic and alienating to one viewer but utterly mundane to another.
BOXES+LOOPS pt. 1: Los Angelenos reflects on sounds, images and behaviours of fictionalized characters living in a city that notoriously sells the dream of transcending the everyday through escapism, celebrity and glamour. But even in LA, people have their routine, fall into bad habits, and dreams of being unique are, in fact, universal.
Concerning itself with the eternal struggle between the rewards of familiarity and the deadening effect of redundancy, BOXES+LOOPS also engages with the very contemporary matter of our rapidly changed and changing relationships with digital technologies. The tension between human error and technological precision is examined in the work on both a thematic and performative level. The Aesthetic of Failure is an important influence on the approach.
THE SPINNING BOY, aka Marc-Ivan O’Gorman, is an artist who has been developing his two-pronged practice of filmmaking and improvised performances since the 1990s. A founding member of the non-verbal improv theatre company, Essential Theatre, he privileges that unplanned, unrepeatable quality of live invention in his performances. Since the 1990s, his films have spanned genres from art film to narrative film.
This work was first presented at the Time-Based Art Pop-Up in Carlow, Ireland as a Culture Night Commission in September 2018.