Adam Chodzko: Room for Laarni, Image Moderator
Marlborough Contemporary, London
6 November - 21 December 2013
Review by Beatrice Schulz
Adam Chodzko’s exhibition ‘Room for Laarni, Image Moderator’ is dedicated to a (fictional) woman working in the Philippines checking images on the internet for inappropriate content. Three sets of images are presented in the room: 20 photographs of persons sleeping, another 20 photographs showing what appears to be the aftermath of various natural disasters, and a collection of circus posters - fly-posted on the outside of the quadrangle window - that reproduce the same grimacing clown face across languages and styles.
The photographs are analogue and amateur. Each photograph is a case, and together they demonstrate and document types of phenomena. Chodzko both identifies and invents connections between images. Marks on the photos - a punch mark in ‘Sleepers. Hole’, dust from Geneva Airport in ‘Too’ - act as a further filter through which the artist passes the images in order to claim, identify, and unify. Chodzko is ambivalent about the possibility of resolution. The case is never closed, because the images themselves are the subject of investigation, and the images continue to gather information. Images are never ‘just’ images, but are both witness and evidence of unexplained phenomena.
‘Mask Filter’ is a video camera fixture, a cage woven from twigs adapted to fit the front of a camera lens. Resembling a small hand-made fishing basket, with the addition of a firewire and a camera-lens adapter, the mask confines the space of the image in its mesh. Below, on a sheet of paper, ‘a loose leaf falls between’ is a diagram demonstrating the contraption.
Through Laarni, looking is turned into a practice of law, a judgement. Laarni’s eyes are put before our eyes, she is the filter, seeing the bad images so that we don’t have to see them. Laarni must judge the images. What is a bad image’ What is a good image’
Is there a just looking’ Or is righteousness merely another form of information filtering’ It seems significant that the sleepers’ eyes are closed, they are not looking, while the clowns’ eyes are exaggeratedly wide. Laarni’s virtual environment, in the HD video ‘Same’, oozes translucent palm trees and birdsong, and maybe even a warm island breeze. But as the image moderator, her own image remains foreclosed; she is a divinity, accessible only through a messaging interface.
In ‘I See Through Every Image. (A Souvenir for Laarni; A planting template for Belladonna seeds)’, the seeds of the deadly nightshade plant are distributed across a partial, horizontal image from a cigarette advert, across which is engraved an unconvincing epitaph to Facebook. The seeds were historically used in eye-drops for women to expand their pupils, and Chodzko leaves these seeds here for Laarni, to widen her eyes so that she is able to pass more images through. This gesture is ambivalently both generous and sadistic, for perhaps small pupils stop the image from penetrating too deeply.