Monday, July 8, 2013

Virtually since television’s invention, artists have used its form, content, and media to create artworks whose intentions range from homage to critique. Your Content Will Return Shortly was a group exhibition that explored how contemporary artists harness the in-between moments of our television experiences. By taking their cues from the physical and functional qualities of television and a variety of elements associated with broadcasting, the artists touch on phenomena that include: advertising; laugh tracks; the affects of VHS, DVD and remote control devices on viewing habits; public service announcements; and nuanced observations of the relationship between spectacle and cable news. The exhibition was on view from January 24 – March 24, 2013, at Franklin Street Works. Exhibiting artists: Christopher DeLaurenti, Eric Gottesman, Jonathan Horowitz, Sophy Naess, Jeff Ostergren, Lucy Raven, Martha Rosler, Catherine Ross, Emily Roz, Carmelle Safdie, and Siebren Versteeg.

Rather than taking a comprehensive view of television as inspiration in contemporary art, Your Content Will Return Shortly, as the title implies, explores contemporary works that highlight televised elements tangential to the main narrative arc. This exhibition brings to light the physical, stylistic, and economic elements that surround the story lines of situation comedies, melodramas, news features, etc. 

Exhibiting artists Jeff Ostergren and Martha Rosler focus on advertising in their works. Artists Jonathan Horowitz, Sopy Naess, Catherine Ross, Emily Roz, and Carmelle Safdie pull from specific and seemingly unimportant elements from televised narratives, reminding us of the devices such as laugh tracks, physical comedy, and repeated plot motifs that are interwoven throughout. Christopher DeLaurenti, Lucy Raven and Siebren Versteeg pay close attention to the physical and operative aspects of television. In Raven's work 4:3, a scrolling text reads in part, “The exchange is asymmetrical: images and sound travel from the production studio to the home and into the TV via copper cable wire, and money from the couch potato travels to the cable company via US mail. You can check if your payment went through by turning on your television.”

As Raven’s text implies, Your Content Will Return Shortly looks beyond the screen and asks questions about the cultural circuitry surrounding television as well as its relationship to daily life and contemporary art. Using videos, photographs, Internet, and sculptural elements, the artists in Your Content Will Return Shortly provide insights into the structures and languages of television, reminding viewers that their relationships with the commerce, programming, and operational structures of TV are multifaceted and extend far beyond the living room.