Referencing the 1983 documentary-style drama, Austin Ivers considers some technological developments of the post-war period and their subsequent application in state command and control systems during the Cold War. Utilising video, sculpture and photography, this is a consideration of the relationship between the aesthetic of power and life as experienced under the perpetual threat of nuclear annihilation.
"As an adolescent, the world appeared to be perpetually teetering on collapse. Nihilistic popular culture, aided by actual events, promised the end of everything, all the time. Obviously, this was facilitated to no small degree by the emergence of domestic VHS technology. Much like contemporary parents are scared stupid by the internet and the access (and understanding) their children have to it, my generation had video, “under the counter” tapes, video nasties and and the world of cheap-to-licence B-movies (as well as art classics) at our disposal. We were obviously in a demented frenzy as we had equal access to The Hills Have Eyes, THX 1138, Eraserhead , The Omega Man, Soylent Green, Zardoz, A Boy and His Dog, Logans Run, Damnation Alley, Dawn of the Dead, Alien, Blade Runner, Terminator, Brazil etc... and we were still asked to
program the video recorder, which was like magic to our parents.First was nuclear annihilation, preceded (or succeeded) by social collapse,
terrible drawn out deaths, corporate take-over of government, theocracy, zombies, Mad Max apocalyptic aesthetic, Rutger Hauer in everything, talking computers running societies, the works. But it wasn’t the bald ulcerated fallout casualties that actually terrorised us; it was the promise of The End. Not Nazi bikers and killer robots, that seemed like fun. But the idea that the normal things might disappear, secure things that certainty and reality hinge on...
Much of the anxiety represented the time was fuelled by the world also: middle class fear of their post-war values being rejected by their children, fear of the centre not holding, fear of The Bomb, the Right, the Left, The British Army and the IRA, strikes, of things breaking down, of chaos (esp well described in Gillinghams Time Bandits). Even Wham! rejected any work ethic and sense of responsibility: social collapse as an aesthetic!
The above are reference points. My sense of these times it is that objects will not survive the common cultural memory but instead images will: children won’t remember their phones, as they’re almost disposable now but they will remember their apps, their skins. Things, actual things are now disposable and the value that might once have been in a cassette or a book or a garment is now located in a string of curated experiences. But much of me and my sense of being in the world (and interpreting the world) is located in objects. Not for (or from) memory but in an ongoing now."
The exhibition consists of a new multi screen video work titled The World at War, photography and installed objects, along with a programme of on line screenings, readings and a publication of essays responding to the themes of the exhibition.
The World At War Credits: Photography Dave Ruffles, Cinematography: Ivan Marcos, Sound Recording: Anne Marie Deacy, Cast : Micheal Tonra, Conor Burke, Location: RMAAC Race Track, Galway