Living Dusts

Steve McCaffery

1991, 40:00 minutes, colour, English


Living Dusts pursues a variagated itinerary through videated banality, the propositional power of the written sentence and the electronic elimination of space and extension. The pixel as a rivet in the New Baroque. Deploying several discrete scenarios, including a philosophic reading by three nine year old children, a video pan-handler, a series of facial "puzzles" and numerous printed texts active on the screen, this 40 minute tape explores the intersection of cultural cliche, commodity logic and the pursuasive force of the written in a highly diversified and frequently irreverent sequence of tableaux and incidents that conclude with three statements on media by W.S. Burroughs, Charles Baudelaire and Napoleon. Like McCaffery's previous work in video and performance, Living Dusts derives from a critical literary heritage and not a visual arts background. The tape deals with writerly concerns and foregrounds the materiality of language in its various transits and embodiments within social spaces and philisophical-theoretical issues. The tape's specific contestation is staged within the fluctuation and intersecting domains of readerly experience and videated time, transfer and image. With its deliberate dissolution of critique into laughter, Living Dusts ideolgical implications and social messages remain as tangible as they are enigmatic.

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