Ed Atkins at DHC/ART (Montreal, 2017)

The Skinny:
Video installations of Computer-Generated short animated films
Young, white, male characters in a state of desperation
Movie-trailer tropes, action-films camera movements (constant movement), musicals
Satirical look at substance abuse, emotional depletion, existential fear, in the context of consumerism

My take:
Walked into this exhibition after a night of heavy drinking. Could readily identify with the main characters, in various states of destitution, soul crumbling just like the architecture around them. Very funny use of Hollywood tropes to convey emotional despair.

However, showcasing digital-only work, on extremely large screens, is exactly the kind of invasive use of technology the exhibition appears to critique. The Brutalist coldness of the suspended screens, or the large blocks/walls acting as screens in the middle of the gallery space, evoke the very fascism that art is supposed to counter. The experience of watching remains alienating, and individualistic, and the only emotional catharsis is through self-identification, which is the tired Hollywood tactic. Guns, guts, gore, is a refrain we’ve all heard before.

Playing at DHC/ART until September 3
451 & 465, St-Jean Street

Nots – “Animal/Blackout” (2017)

“Animal” is a new recording of a song from their 2013 demo, before they added synth to their sound. It’s completely zany, KBD/Messthetics, and the addition of Alexandra Eastburn’s keys are droney/improv ambient synth. Reminds me of Urinals’ “I’m A Bug”, or Anorexia’s “Pets”, both “cult” releases proof of the unbridled playful creativity of punk’s beginnings.

“Blackout” is a new song. It appeared on the Live At Goner LP, but this here is a studio recording. The story is ominous, like it could be about alcohol, a lack of electricity, or a plain concussion. The emotional relief of screaming the word “Blackout!” follows other Nots anthems such as “Reactor!”, and “Decadence!”.

Limited to 300 copies, German import, purchase on Discogs, through Slowboy Records.

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