Search engine filters mimic the politics of the school-yard. The voices of the well-liked resound through passages and fill empty pages; identifying trends, dictating meaning, silencing difference. Concrete Air navigates the unwatched footage of the individual YouTube user by using both date and time as a method of filtration amid the chaos of uncirculated sermons, Vlogs, UFO sightings, Indian sitcoms, confessionals, infomercials, conspiracy theories, unboxings, virtual world commentaries, spam filters & ad blockers. Concrete Air results in a labyrinth of pixels, devoid of narrative and subject, offering the search engine outcasts a seat at the proverbial table.
un viral moments
In Concrete Air we are thrown into a quagmire, unsure of where we stand. Amalia Lindo has produced the film work through chance encounters with the un-loved corners of the internet. She has selected and edited previously unseen clips from the well-known video sharing platform, Youtube. Hundreds of hours of footage are uploaded to this platform every day and Lindo draws our attention to fragmentary moments amongst the mass. The film raises questions about the intentions of the original Youtube authors. Some of these videos appear to have been captured by accident, but the producers have taken the time to make their work public. Why did they attempt to share these moments with the world at large? Who did they imagine would see these slices of time?
The mechanical eye of the camera can record the visual field more concisely than our own fleeting perceptions. Walter Benjamin describes the optical unconscious as the camera’s capacity to see more than what was originally intended. Like the subconscious, the optical unconscious records things without our consent. The technologies of photography and film allow us to go back and review scenes, to look at the past for evidence, and to bring what was missed back into our field of perception. Benjamin was writing at a time when film and photography were still relatively rare, their scope was limited by their analogue form. Today the amount of visual material produced daily is beyond our capacity to comprehend. Our ability to review has been drowned out by our capacity to record. For the most part, the optical unconscious of Youtube will remain buried.
In her selection of fragments, Lindo was guided by the videos’ nominal timestamps. These films were not significant enough to be named by their authors. Instead, the fragments are identified by the date they were uploaded. The time marker has allowed the artist to follow the current moment, a vanishing present, as each day delivers fresh material. Time is the indexical marker that locates these fragments. Roland Barthes’ ‘this has been’ of photography continues in some form despite the digital turn. This phenomenon speaks to photography’s contingency: its dependence on what has taken place. The time stamp itself is both indexical and arbitrary, indicative of the aporia of films’ essential contingency.
Concrete Air weaves together semi-conciousconscious moments. We follow different cameras around rooms, onto driveways, and into gardens. Different authors take us up buildings and under water. As we watch this work we start to get a sense of different locations, diverse architecture, changing weather, and culturally specific gestures. We also become aware that we are being held at a distance from a body. The gestures of the footage, its turning and jolting, are all generated by an unknown subject. For the most part we only see glimpses of these authors, but we can feel their physical presence in the rhythms of the film.
Tamsin Green, 2017
Amalia Lindo completed a BFA (Honours) at Monash University. Her filmic practice considers individuation amid an ever-mutating digital, cultural identity with a distinct focus on how meaning is both constructed and distorted by cultural ascriptions of value to produce specific or slanted narratives. Her work is predominately composed of found, marginalised and non-narrative footage. Lindo was the recipient of the Lowensteins Art Management Award in 2016. She recently completed a solo exhibition & mentorship with c3 Contemporary in Melbourne.
Images: Amalia Lindo, Concrete Air, 2017, stills from single channel video, 14m | Courtesy the artist