MY WAR is a transdisciplinary research project investigating the influence of the Cold War on the built environment and social culture of Southern California, with outcomes rendered in photography, drawing and sound. Presented as a site-based installation to form a spatial dialectic of Pure War in the Southland, MY WAR diagrams the contemporary So Cal uncanny vis-à-vis a systematic portrayal of imperialist affect on the increasingly abject condition of the everyday.
MY WAR gives supporting evidence to Paul Virilio’s theory of Pure War, or the continuous and systematic act of war that is at both an engagement in actual combat as well as the organized effort to control economies, architecture, cities, and technology. The American military-industrial complex in Southern California has a phantom-like presence: It is the thing that is there that is not there. The latency of Cold War culture continues to influence the collective psyche of Southern California, such that the feeling of impending doom is continuously reinforced through physical occupation of public space in the post-9/11 landscape. Outmoded defense structures and sites like large gun batteries, abandoned air force bases and rocket engine testing facilities are folded into the public sphere through seemingly benign nature preserves and state parks, while the remains of the “Rings of Supersonic Steel” missile defense system and General Patton’s WWII Desert Training Center provide local youths with illicit spaces ripe for debauchery.
The title of this project is an appropriation of the 1983 record album by the Los Angeles post-punk hardcore band Black Flag. The copping of Black Flag’s woeful lyricism works as an operational metaphor meant to signify the cognition of American imperialism implied by artist Martha Rossler’s work Bringing the War Home (1967-1972). The act of appropriating paranoid Mason-like conjecture further implies evidence of “end times” psychogeography as evident in the underground music scene of 80s suburban youth culture. Entropy takes many forms in Southern California.
Gabie Strong is an artist with a multidisciplinary approach to creating work about nature, technology, power and social resistance. Through her art she seeks to tease out the contemporary sublime by visualizing the post-Cold War affect of the American West. With a foundation in conceptualism and research in the built environment, Strong traces entropy in the West by framing vernacular obsolescence as speculative futures through photography, sculpture, and sound. Her sound performance and recordings are studies in degeneration. She improvises arrangements and layers of aural textures to emphasize reduced and abstracted musical gestures to further invoke drone and decay. She has received grant awards from the University of California, Irvine, University of California Institute for Research in the Arts (UCIRA), the UCR Barbara and Art Culver Center of the Arts, and is a 2011 CCI ARC grant award recipient. Strong’s work has been exhibited at Autonomie, PØST, Pitzer Art Galleries, University Art Gallery at UC Irvine, UCSD, LAXArt, Acuna-Hansen, Gallery Five Thirty Three, and the Torrance Art Museum, among others. She has performed at venues including the Whitney Biennial 2012, Human Resources, LACE, 2011 Art Los Angeles Contemporary fair, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Las Cienegas Projects, and the MAK Center for Art and Architecture. She is a lecturer in the Cultural Studies department at SCI-Arc and in the Art History and Urbanism departments at Woodbury University.