An Adult Video Store Nostalgia
16.2.-16.5.2021, Brno House of Arts
gallery project, pc game, performance, installation
You are zigzagging through a maze of romantic comedies, furtively complicating your journey through the Fairy Tales section full of fairy tales...and even more fairy tales. To blend in, you pop into the Documentaries. The whole space within the building is like a kind of a foreplay, glimmering walls and shelves covered in a blurry haze of colours, familiar shapes, stories, and genres. The vacant look and reserved walk will surely lead you to where you have been, at least in your mind, for some time anyway.
"Straight ahead, right around the corner" echoes a navigating voice from behind the cash register. You continue your slick manoeuvring within the space, pretending that the directions were not aimed at you..., and like a cue ball bounced on a pool table that has one leg shortened, you, as if by chance, fall straight in.
As you are having a quick look inside, you feel as if you have just opened a door on an engaged toilet cubicle, and you are ready to bemusedly gesture at your interest in the latest psycho-thriller with a particular actor.
All your clumsiness stands guard on the outside, and the resonance of the bamboo curtain behind your back, as if by a caress, moves your body to the ambient chamber of a blind spot zone of anonymity.
On your way back, to be on a safe side, you pick up a few random pieces which should confuse the stripping looks of potentially nosey people. Your “prized find “can be “hidden” in this casual pile, so it will not accidentally give away anything about you.
Not so long ago, video rental shops were a common part of the social space, a place of physical interaction. People had to make decisions on the spot regarding how they will later spend their free time. Wider choice and user-friendly offers by online providers made video rental shops an extinct phenomenon, an artifact of the past. A visit to an online store is just a few clicks and as in real life, we can decide if we go "incognito" or if we couldn’t care less, register ourselves for others to remember us.
Straight Ahead Right Around the Corner: An Adult Video Store Nostalgia is a physical replica of the familiar X-rated movies aisle - both an adult department and a digital simulation in the shape of a computer game - that brings to life the virtual walk around the video rental shop. The game diminishes the differences between physical and virtual space and reveals the interactivity of both by using psychogeography and choreography of the physical body from the recent past and the "futuristic" one from the present. The work intervenes in the physical world with the help of objects related to fiction in contrast to the created virtual world, which was once real and now exists only in the online space.
The project relies on the philosophical concept of “hauntology” (“haunting Western society from beyond the grave”), which first defined Derrida, or later, for example, Mark Fisher. It describes the return of lingering elements from the past, in the form of some kind of their spirits. The concept revolves around a relaxed musical genre evoking the cultural memory and aesthetics of the past. It rises from an issue with electronic music that, since a certain time, the turn of the millennium, has not been able to fulfil the vision of the future, as an example we can take the soundtrack in a sci-fi film.
The exhibition project similarly metaphrases a kind of spirit of the physical interaction of a visitor in an off-line space - which is now just a shadow of the past- like a DVD - an extinct medium. The scene of the video rental shop, or its artifacts, are today just a nostalgic memory, but a significant essence of shaping our image of the world, a world that is differently understood and perceived by every generation.
The installation was put together by approximately 1,500 DVD cases of various X-rated movie genres displayed in shelves around the whole perimeter of a blue carpeted room, with a bamboo curtain instead of a door and pink lighting. The participants used the draw system to decide individual placing of each movie according to the interior room set up. This method carries on in setting up the working process of the group based on the previous series of exhibition projects (Project Exhibition Acupuncture I and 2) in order to exclude subjective decisions within the process of completion, thus vanishing individual manuscripts from the walls, in this case, composition variations.
Straight Ahead Right Around the Corner presents a kind of synecdoche within the overall gallery space, while at the same time a fictional unit of a video rental shop. Separately divided the section this way indirectly leaks out, where it mimics the identity of the space by organising and structuring the space, as if according to film genres.
As part of the project, other DVD cases were also unobtrusively distributed outside their “chamber scene”, which extended the motif of the work itself throughout the Gallery, where another 56 pieces of art (mostly paintings, and sculptures) were exhibited. These cases were spread out and their sleeve picture blurred, which paradoxically did not create any difficulty for the visitors to immediately identify them. Quite the opposite, they were a depiction of iconic movies that most of us still have somewhere in our memory from the time around the turn of the millennium (e.g., Stallone, Carrey, Hanks, Potter, ...). This external intervention is also supposed to refer to choreography of the unfocused spirit of the visitor, not focused on the genre centred around and heading “straight down your nose, then just ‘round the corner”, but the way to that destination is "inconspicuously complicated ".
Additionally, we placed a fixed object (named “Natural Selection”), by the cashiers at the gallery’s main entrance, as an alternative to blurred DVD cases. Right at the top of the pile, you can recognise a blurred sleeve picture of Jim Carry’s movie The Mask, while among the lower layers of the DVD pile is concealed one clearly visible porn movie (Big Natural Titties). The object is a kind of an allegory of a paying customer, who is "in incognito mode", in the real video rental shop. The object’s name “Natural Selection” is at the same time pointing to intensions that can be viewed as a reference to the documentary movie about human evolution, human as an explorer, their habits, fetishes, and social ordering in the natural environment of the past.
In this video game, on the contrary, the outside space – meaning, before the curtain, is no longer located in the gallery, but the player finds himself “really” walking through a fictitious video rental shop. The “grown up’s” section remains identical to the one that is physically set up in the gallery. As part of the physical installation, it was possible to play this simulation by using VR (virtual reality) goggles, right in this chamber space. The game also will be available later online.
The exhibition project was created to celebrate the 110th anniversary of the Brno House of Arts as a part of a group exhibition called “Tady a Teď!” (Here and Now!). The intermedia art group “INSTITUT INSTITUT” has created an installation in one of the rooms, it is in the form of an X-rated movies section of a video rentals shop, in a gallery room located by the main entrance and then…follow as the name of the work itself instructs.