False Colored Eyes

Imploding Portraits Inevitable

In Liquid Loft's Imploding Portraits Inevitable series of performances, today's media-guided self-optimization is confronted with its innermost historical avatar.

False Colored Eyes follows this insisting gaze of the Screen-tests and the never blinking eye of Warhol's camera, which was exclusively aiming at celebrating the comeliness of stretched-out moments of inactivity (on faces, bodies, architecture). 

The radically private, the making public of which still constituted a subversive act during Warhol's time, is tediously ubiquitous these days: It has become mainstream, the main flow of images of a society which permanently presents itself online, constantly in a terrific good mood and fundamental exhibited without rules or guidance.

The search for the ideal I within the self-produced moving- or still image, the constant audiovisual sounding of the ego is the final utopia of a society of the amusement-spectacle which has run painfully dry of ideas. In all this one never gets close enough to (one's own) celebrity: the high-definition, constantly re-sharpened depictions of increasingly deeper penetration of the partial bodies and body parts become a Fantastic voyage - much like a well-known 1966 movie of exploration of bodily worlds of the same title - into the precious microcosms of our superstars: gastroscopy as the most advanced form of pornography. 

Text: Stefan Grissemann
Translation: Oliver Stummer

Off the track.The deconstruction of bodies, the language of ghosts: Notes on False Colored Eyes.

The post modern vanitas feels, thanks to consumer electronics, comfortably at home in the electronic ecstasy, where it's making sure we're having a good time on our way home from the strobelight-party of the old Exploding Plastic Inevitables, back to the fun-factory of constantly chattering of the hotel ghosts, which are frantically acting their heads of in Chelsea Girls.

Andy Warhol - whose work on pop & politics forms a leitmotif in Liquid Loft's currently unfolding new Imploding Portraits Inevitable performance series – was a prophet of the insisting view, the disenchanted Messiah of the never-blinking camera eye, an eye that has its mind set exclusively on celebrating the comeliness of prolonged moments of inactivity (in faces, bodies, or architecture). In Warhol's luxuriant time-waste experiments and screen endurance- tests, the counter culture and its instant-superstars define themselves by sarcastically placing themselves as absolutes, thus agitating against the enduring hegemonic and meritocratic bourgeoisie of the mid-Sixties. But times, as we know, have changed: The radically private, which, to publicly reveal in such a manner clearly constituted a subversive act during Warhol's time has, nowadays, become omnipresent, leaves us over-saturated, has turned mainstream, the major current of images in a society that, in a shockingly good mood, without rules or regulations, exhibits itself in the world-online-museum.

The characters in False Colored Eyes are, therefore, synthetic beings, existing on stage and screen at the same time: Fantasy phantoms with paradoxically “real” bodies; mutants. Cameras and spotlights are brought into position to dissect the bodies into framed shots, in order to rearrange the parts in the projected imagery, where the digital conflation of body parts, in passing, gives birth to small monsters: smacking double-mouthed beings and seemingly amphibious fantasy creatures. And this time the choreography takes us all the way to the backs of the protagonists' mouths, into the deep throats of those, who bare all and bare themselves in all: back down to where the uvula dances among mucous membranes and strings of spittle. This is the meta pornography of total self-deconstruction.

At first it is, however, mostly faces the lens aims at. The production serves a staccato of changing moods with acoustically amplified zooms: The facial muscles dance the mood swing. And Lou Reed's eternal femme fatale, the object of desire, with her dishonest intentions and fake eye color, takes matters back to the unstable state of emotions. False Colored Eyes celebrates the process, the transformation, the course of things, ideas and sounds. Everything flows, intrudes and transgresses.

The live generated images correspond with the playbacks: They show aliens that persistently fathom themselves, take pictures and measurements, as if they only just slipped into these human shells, still feeling unfamiliar wearing them, and still astonished about all those strange details of their bodies. A mission they cannot name keeps them hooked, drives them into daring, increasingly grotesque escapades of posing. They lay bare neglected areas of skin, pull and drag on their textiles, and theatrically scratch their bodies till they bleed. The skin gets pulled, pushed, pinched, drawn and scraped as if to bring out something from the inside – scratch, rattle & roll. The camera's microscopic view examines fine hairs, lips, pupils, armpits and elbows in high-definition-intrusiveness, rendering them genuinely unusual by blowing them up into gargantuan proportions. The Pin-up poses turn out to be fake, instructions for self-distortion. False Colored Eyes gets real with exhibitionism.

The appearing mutants find themselves, beyond sad or blissful, bound to the ghastly sound design. The grinning, strangely swaying, striped shirt-clad Warhol-proxy isn't fully himself any more either, only staging himself as a pro-forma master of ceremony, as hedonism's string-puppet. His dark song, on the other hand, tells with an apocalyptic vagueness of the arrival of waves and of the oceans – and with that dissolves the capitalist pact: slowed down voices from the velvet underground, acoustic counter-messages from the sunken sixties. Ever since then does the music of consumerism sound so sweet, so good, so untrue that only the counter-culture has something to oppose.

The scenarios False Colored Eyes plays through are meticulously set to a musical score: the melancholic dark sound-scapes aggregate tonal rubble from six decades – the ominous droning of unconscious and unexplainable horrors, the grinding beat of the very characteristic Velvet Underground sound and the consumption-lusting voices of American advertisements. The mumbled, fragmented pieces of conversation, which are re-enacted in lip-sync by the performers, accompany as sonic riddles (yet in Warhol's sense also with a distinct sense of 'cool' and 'by the way') many of the mysterious images that are produced on stage and (- quaintly playing with physiologies - ) projected onto the wall. The loops of dialogue – even though they actually aren't – resemble snippets of conversation from a film, the whole production as such seems, in a similar vain, like a series of re-enactments of unknown - maybe yet to be made -movies: an element of the whole piece that itself forms a futuristic motive.

The psychedelic hard shadows in this production cannot be missed, much like in Shiny, shiny… the first part of the current Liquid Loft series. Apparent orders soon become fluid in the delirious dissolving of equilibrium, characters and their perspectives tip over, literally, as if under the influence of toxic substances. They start to multiply within the feedback of images and lose themselves in abstraction.

It's not just here and now that the complexity of this spectacle's setting becomes evident, with its four layers – stage action, shadow-plays, live camera projections and the slow-motion flashbacks – all permeating each other while trying to manipulate the fabric of time and space. The conflicts between two- and three dimensional vistas, the negotiation of the spatial nature of bodies and their digital effigies further contribute to the complexity of this aesthetic rendezvous. Double-projections (as can be found in Warhol's Chelsea Girls, 1966), double body inspections, pairing up and double strip-duels.

False Colored Eyes constructs a strange universe where things are constantly slightly off, thought outside the box, played over the fence; wilfully a split second delayed or running a millimetre off track: The cartoon-esque click never completely manages to hit the pulse of the jingling performer-songs, the lip movements are slightly out of sync with the pre-recorded texts, a minimal distance from the quoted emotional worlds is scrupulously kept – the horror is pretend, the hysteria fake, the ecstasy acted. A bizarrely libidinal solipsism motorises this evening. And even that is slightly askew: pushed into the realms of para-eroticism, of meta-sex.

The search for the ideal I within the self-produced image, the constant audio-visual assessment of the ego: these are the ultimate utopias of a fun craving society of the spectacle that has run out of ideas. And yet, despite all the effort, one never gets close enough to celebrity (i.e. oneself): In the constantly re-focused high definition vistas that document the steady progress of the intrusion into partial bodies and body-parts, we embark on a Fantastic Voyage – much like in the film of the same name, released in 1966 the same year as Chelsea Girls – to precious star-microcosms: gastroscopy as the ultimate advanced form of pornography. In self-optimization's house of mirrors we hear the ghastly language of the cinema -apparatus celebrating the act of freezing the movements of undead human images into motion pictures. All is vanity, fair enough. But at least there's still narcissism as the last resort to fall back on.

Only at the end do the protagonists eventually really find together, back into the un-order of bodies, for a last shared excess, before Maureen Tuckers slightly withered ode to night, the song After Hours, is heard in the dreamlike grand finale. “All the people are dancing” goes Tucker in her monologue, “and they're having such fun” - yet it is always the others who have all the fun. When the door finally closes, the day remains outside forever. Say hello to Never. But please: Smile – you're on film!

Text: Stefan Grissemann
Translation: Oliver Stummer