Living Room

Living Room

Entering my Living Room installation, the visitor encounters a facsimile of the traditional mid-twentieth century living room. On an orange couch facing the entrance is a large cocoon-like shape bathed in the projected image of a figure. Only the flickering light from a 1960s wood console television illuminates the larger space. Audio from 1950s syndicated TV shows like WOG (World of Giants) fills the silence.

The lone organic entity on the couch seems to be a contorted human encased within a solid body-sized white cocoon. Occasionally the figure itches his nose, utters a sigh, or gets up, walks away, then returns to fit himself back into the cocoon. Rounding the television set the visitor sees that the “on screen” image contorts and curves towards a central black hole. The “screen” is not a “screen” at all, but an odd three-dimensional space funneling back toward the hole and giving it the appearance of a vortex. The moving images on this inverted mountain seem to be home movies that have been strangely merged with audio and video from 1950s syndicated TV shows. At one moment adolescent Catholic confirmation candidates march to the theme of Police Station, while in the next a band on a boat plays the theme from Lincoln Vail of the Everglades. The visitor, now at ease with the indifference and apathy of the cocooned figure, can join him on the couch to watch.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistic's 2012 American Time Use Survey, the average American will devote nearly nine years of his or her life to watching television. Are these wasted years?

Watching television is a physically sedentary ritual. Although it may appear to be the pinnacle of laziness and wasted time, there are some differing opinions. Is the caterpillar’s time within a cocoon wasted? With the mind absorbing 30 to 60 individual images per second along with audio, how could something not happen? J. W. Carey, in his 1989 article Communication as Culture: Essays on Media and Society has an interesting concept: “Television is a presentation of reality that gives to life an overall form, order, and tone.” A. R. Stone’s in his 1995 article The War of Desire and Technology at the Close of the Mechanical Age, observes that “time, space, social performance, and even the idea of the body itself, gain new meaning” with media such as television. Based on such observations, Stone feels television is a powerful tool.

Is today’s ”living room” a place to live or a place to learn how to live?

Carey, J.W. (1989). Communication as Culture: Essays on Media and Society. Boston, MA: Unwin Hyman.
Hutchison, Phillip. "Magic Windows and the Serious Life: Rituals and Community in Early American Local Television." Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media 56.1 (2012): 21-37. Print.
Stone, A. R. (1995). The War of Desire and Technology at the Close of the Mechanical Age. Cambridge, MA: PITT Press.