Constant World: The Work of Jennifer and Kevin McCoy includes work from the past three years that continues the artists' interest in sculpture, cinema, memory, and technology.
There is no single reality in the McCoy's work: they present us with multiple realities through constantly shifting stories and perspectives. In their own unique combination of sculpture and video, small cameras project an open-ended narrative of live images filmed directly from the constructed models. The viewer physically navigates between the sculptures and the projections to experience a more associative form of story telling that is both actual and virtual.
Their work presents a world that is a continual overlay of individual memories and experiences taking place against a shared background of movies, news and technologies; histories, myths and rumors in unending circulation. For the McCoys, this world of changing, evolving and accumulating perspectives is always around us. It is us. It is the Constant World.
The exhibition was curated by Dave Familian and organized by the Beall Center for Art and Technology, University of California, Irvine.
A commission by the British Film Institute, Constant World is an installation based on the utopian architectural plan New Babylon by Constant Anton Niewenhuis. The clean molecular form of the chandeliers represents Constant's vision for New Babylon – a progressive, enthusiastic vision of science and technology.
However, we see a more grim outlook from the 36 cameras placed in the four suspended sculptures. These miniature cameras capture scenes that are lonely and barren, with haunting phrases overpowering the people who inhabit this world. These cameras, controlled by a computer, project recreated scenes from Jean Luc Goddard's Alphaville, in which a society lives subjected under strict laws.
It is this juxtaposition which offers us an insight into the McCoys' work. There is a discrepancy between the ways in which we view the work – we must make sense of both the macro-cosmic realm of the third dimension and the micro-cosmic view of the second. In Constant World, the artists draw on several systems of centralized control: marketing, architecture, and technology; but as we experience the work as a sculpture, we notice we are outside that system. By this contrast, we have the ability to be subjective – to interpret as we will and assemble our thoughts and feelings from our own perspective.
Jennifer & Kevin McCoy (American), Big Box 2 (Zombies), 2008.
Mixed media free standing sculpture with cameras, motors, electronics, video output, plasma monitor. Courtesy of Postmasters Gallery, New York. © Jennifer & Kevin McCoy
Unlike the Double Fantasies, the series titled Big Box uses only a single camera and moving turntable to present the illusion of motion. The artists have placed a diorama of an American "big-box" shopping mall that rotates to reveal post-apocalyptic scenes; one is a dome overrun by a jungle and the other shows a trash-filled wasteland inhabited by zombies.
Similar to the Double Fantasy series, the artists are showing us the difference of viewing a two- versus a three-dimensional work. When we engage the sculpture, peering down upon the scene, we experience a world smaller than our own – one in which we have a comfortable distance from the chaos below. However from the view of the camera, we are immersed in this continually rotating urban desert – unable to escape this repetitive nightmare.