Created inside of an old basement bomb shelter, participants place their head into a small slit-opening where a door once stood. Inside this slit, they find themselves inside of the back of a television, up close and personal with all the electronic innards. Beyond the concave glass in front of them lies a custom-fitted couch with mounted television-headed creatures. The screens play back static, and dimly light-up the room. Their abstract bodies were constructed of 100′s of feet of black, coax TV cable and twist and wrap around their surroundings. Their size and the length of the cable is dependent on the hierarchical order of this abstract TV family. Therefore the center and largest TV is placed higher up, is larger, and uses the most cable to fill its form.
Above the television lies group portraits of prominent TV families like The Simpsons, Family Guy, Full House, and The Cosby’s. In the center of this shrine hangs a mirror. Here, the participants finally receive visual feedback of their true surroundings. They seem themselves framed inside of an old television and placed as an icon of American sitcom folklore. They are then reminded of the Doorstop for this installation that reads, “Gaze not long into the abyss, or the abyss will gaze back into you.”
Photo by Rick Valentin, All Rights Reserved.
Early version of the work in full bright (it was not shown this way).
This piece critiques the idolization of perceived conventions propagated by main-stream media sitcoms. This raises numerous questions… Ideal family structures seem to be built around a television set, but is this convention still valid? Is this realization destroying the “American Family” or simply changing it for the better? Who are the true TV Gods? Do we even need television anymore (or at least the non-digitized one)?
Video by Rick Valentin, All Rights Reserved.
Original conceptual sketch.
This piece was an installation created for the exhibition, Identity Reconnected. Original concept and sketches by me, created in collaboration with Philippe Moore. Funded by a grant awarded by the Friends of the Arts at Illinois State University. Space provided by Come Together Studios / Love Way / Matt Erickson. Thanks to all who supported us… Brian Franklin, John Walker, Rick Valentin, Rose Marshack, friends and family.