Known for his high-definition videos that defy standard narrative conventions, Ed Atkins (British, b. 1982) works with filmic and text-based forms in technological transition. The artist considers HD technology deathlike because of its virtualized form, and he deploys this bodiless movie format to highlight the conflicted intimacies that contemporary mechanisms of cultural production represent and allow us to achieve. Unlike traditional films that give priority to the image over the soundtrack, Atkins gives equal weight to what is seen and heard, playing visual conventions against those of sound composition and editing. Jump cuts and transitions mark his work, drawing our attention to the artifice of contemporary “film” during its accelerating transition to new digital formats capable of remarkable kinds of simulation.
In addition to his video work, Atkins also writes prolifically, and is similarly interested in the evolutions occurring in the distribution of books and print media. He often makes his writing available in cheaply printed chapbooks within the space of his exhibitions (even while such texts are available online). In his essay, Notes on HD, Atkins writes, “The HD image, detailing a death of cinematic delusion, exposes the ‘reality’ of each and every subject of the camera’s gaze as deathly, as crucially deathly, brimming with death—a deathliness for the sake of representation, wherein the surrogacy of representation approaches a pinnacle of such accuracy that it no longer represents but simply is the subject.”
This exhibition—his first solo show in the United States—features a two-channel video and surround-sound installation Us Dead Talk Love (2011), which focuses on a dialogue between two cadavers that reflects upon immanence, representation and narcissism. Atkins describes the work as “a tragedy of love, intimacy, incoherence and eyelashes.” Also included is a new single-channel work Warm, warm, warm Spring Mouths (2012), which premiers at MoMA PS1.
Organized by Peter Eleey, Curator, MoMA PS1, with Matthew Evans, Curatorial Assistant.
The exhibition is made possible by the MoMA PS1 Annual Exhibition Fund.
Us Dead Talk Love was commissioned by Chisenhale Gallery, London.