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Becoming

Erika Tan
2006
16.45 min., looped 6 channel dvd
site responsive 6 channel video and sound installation

Becoming

Becoming developed as an extension of the single channel video work, Vent & Mimesis that had been made a few years previously in response to a specific socio-political development in Britain.

Re-siting the work as part of an International Biennale, within the framework of BELIEF, and within a disused courtroom in The City Hall enabled a shift in focus from a local to a global referent.

Utilizing the complete courtroom and the adjacent judges anti chamber, the work mediates on the process [enforced and self ascriptive] of becoming and its seeming counter-part; unbecoming. Walking through the space from the courtroom galleries, through the accused box, witness stand, lawyers benches, court transcribers and judges benches and through into the judges chambers, a progression of sound is experienced, at times subliminal and overshadowed by that of the video soundtracks and at other times inhabiting the space physically and bodily. Incidental sounds of people's presence in the galleries, a faint cough, a suppressed sneeze, a whisper, and a stifled giggle. In the accused box, a heart beat. Further into the court the mechanical assisted breathing sound of a life support machine, followed by the stopping and starting of keyboards, transcribing and evidencing the performative act of speaking taking place in the witness stand. In the judges bench the rhythmic tick-tock of an invisible clock is heard. However, sitting in the judges deep red leather chair and looking over the scene from a position of power, the clock faces you from across the courtroom gallery. It has stopped at 11.59.

Interrupting this 'body' of sound and physical progression through the space are three moving image elements. Four installed monitors, as if in-situ, evoke the media mechanization of data control and courtroom procedures/references. Sited on the lawyer's benches the screens show four cross referencing video works shown simultaneously and looped. The gradual and faltering DIY production of a mimetic body or ventriloquist's dummy develops across the screens, passing through phases of physical construction, linguistic developments, cultural attribution and learning. The dummy begins to take shape, becoming and unbecoming at each new development. In this instance the internet becomes a source of culturally and nationally instructional material, grooming the uninitiated into cultural submission, knowledge and expertise. The dummy is seen sojourning through a number of 'national' sites, activities, and rituals, at once assuming participation, position and proof of existence.

Commissioned for BELIEF, Singapore Biennale 2006

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