The Missed Connections works reposit (other people’s) interpellative statements and transform them into post-formalist color palette paintings.
Interpellation is a concept I think about a great deal. (Or to be frank, I call the thing I think about interpellation without having done extensive background research to know whether I’m using the term wholly correctly or more in the Althusserian or Foucaldian sense, et cetera.) I believe that both Althusser and Foucault would have accepted a common usage that ‘interpellation’ describes a specific interaction between a person and a mantle of subject-ness. To describe what interpellation is, the example is often given of a policeman calling out “Hey you” into a crowd. Somebody will turn around, in effect ‘becoming’ the ‘you’ the policeman indicated (and in so doing creating a relationship between that somebody and policeman, and also with the state apparatus, and so on). In effect, the acts of creating, recognizing, and naming a ‘self’ are combined into a single act.
Another way of putting it is this: I don’t much at all think of myself as a ‘self’ most of the time. And I don’t think that other people do either, at least some of the time. I think most of us spend lots of time just sensing, thinking and reacting to things, without much measuring what the parameters of our ‘selves’ are. The ongoing, repeated process of parameterizing our ‘selves’ happens as we encounter forces that motiviate us to bundle certain attributes, affects, and methods into some kind of labeled package.
(To be sure, it’s more complicated than that.)
My feeling is that this activity has changed over the last two decades, where interpellative recognition and promotion take place in abstracted-yet-charged online spaces. I don’t have ready tools to diagram the power relations of those transformations directly, so I’m doing it indirectly.
Missed Connections is a series of paintings directly mired in that situation. Each painting begins as a Craiglist post from the Men Seeking Men section. I choose a single line from the post that posits a well-formed and interpellative potential — a moment where the subject’s identity is both invented and anonymized.
From there, I use a translative mapping to create a feedback of color modulation based on the grammar in the selected sentence. Stripe widths and accretions of color are based on word lengths and parts of speech in the Craigslist post.
I think of the result as a kind of interface, an empty tool.