Why Photogenic?

Emanuel Licha

2010
An architectural installation, a visual caption and the 2-channel video Mirages

Why Photogenic? is an architectural dispositif inspired from the actual site of Fort Irwin, a US Army training center that includes a mock Iraqi village. The dispositif is made of plywood and forces the spectator to go through the space in a pre-defined sequence. It is conceived as a viewing device, proposing a mise en abîme to the viewer, allowing him to perceive himself watching. It allows the viewer to approach Fort Irwin's reality through the filer of three different kinds of media: mass-media, cinema, and architecture.

The first viewing station shows a 7mn video, considered as a 'visual caption' showing a spectator watching a computer screen. A window is open showing a news broadcast produced by a local Californian TV network (KCAL), reporting live from Fort Irwin. This is how the spectator first learns about Fort Irwin: through the media perspective. The Why Photogenic? dispositif proposes to the viewer to experiment a reconstitution of what it is to approach For Irwin.

The spectator is then lead to another room, in which he will watch the two-channel video Mirages. The spectator watches the video through an opening in the wall which has the proportions of a movie screen (16:9). This opening makes an echo to images shown in the video. One shows the observation deck from which journalists are encouraged to film the theatre of operations; the other shows the mock hotel room in which journalists are invited to stay when they report on Fort Irwin. The window in that room also has the proportions of a movie/tv screen, as if what the military wanted the journalists to film was already framed for them. Those observation platforms confirm the idea that beyond the fact that Fort Irwin is a training camp for soldiers, it is also a training camp for viewers. Where the spectator's gaze is educated through the images produced by journalists. After watching the video, the spectator exists the dispositif through the 'back stage'.

Collection ASAP.

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www.emanuel-licha.com