February 2014,
Kudos Gallery, Paddington

Catalogue Essay

I DON’T TRUST VERKENNTNISS

"I don't trust books. They're all fact, no heart. And that's exactly what's pulling our country apart today. Because face it, folks, we are a divided nation. Not between Democrats or Republicans, or conservatives and liberals, or tops and bottoms. No, we are divided by those who think with their head, and those who know with their heart...”

Stephen Colbert, The Colbert Report, October 17, 2005.


The above statement from the popular news comedian sets out to explain his then recent contribution to the English language ‘Truthiness’, a characterisation of a truth that is not backed up by physical evidence, research or fact, yet a “gut feeling” or “knowing” that what a person thinks is true, is the truth. Years later this word then became the catalyst for the exhibition, “MORE REAL: Art in The Age of Truthiness” at the Minneapolis Institute of Art in 2013, a comprehensive survey of international artists examining visual deception and the representation of truth in 21st century art making. In the catalogue essay, curator Elizabeth Armstrong states “we are living in an age of “truthiness”, a time when many in the public sphere create their own versions of reality, taking advantage of the fact that things that we wish to be true are often more appealing than those that we know to be true.” 
As the ability to edit, chop-up, digitally manipulate, fabricate and publish images on a global scale evolves, our interpretation of artworks is one of intrigue and mistrust of the image. Representing a conflicted climate between manipulation and reality is where practicing artists find themselves today. As a viewer there is a feeling deep in our gut that reminds us that these representations of reality use techniques to fabricate and recreate reality itself, spawning both awe and confusion in the viewer.

In the case of David Greenhalgh this “gut feeling” drives the once structured narrative structure of film. The keen observer is drawn into a fabricated narrative whereby the presence of a 21st century remix disseminates a once trusted source of information, the documentary stock footage of a bygone era, The mid 20th century.Emerging from darkness and amongst the wear and tear of a tattered film roll, the words “The Theory of Everything” hover above the Earth; we know from this moment something serious this way comes. The creation of the universe, philosophy of humanity and the meaning of life are what gets thrown around in these films, my attention has been caught and I’m waiting to see where I’m taken next. Seamlessly the visuals cut between scientific experiments, classrooms, board meetings and public lectures all looking to explain a universal idea that sums up all creation, everything came from a ‘Singularity’ and everything it spawned was a ‘facsimile’. As the film progresses the tell tale signs of remix and editing start to shine through. The sounds from the figures mouths differ from their moving lips and as the subtitles flash on screen they are either too long or too short for what is said. What language are they speaking? Is it French? Have they been dubbed? Am I watching a document of the past or a mutation of the present? As the film pushes through, everything it sets out to do falls apart, the theory of everything results in a disastrous voyage to an unknown corner of the galaxy and as the screen fades to black the motivation of the piece becomes apparent. The ‘Theory of Everything’, a constructed idea, highlights the failure of speculative global ideas and that without intrinsic evidence an idea cannot become physical truth, paradoxically becoming a comment on the evolution of knowledge. These films have become a document of the present, attempting to explain our philosophical renderings as they fall apart as time pushes on. We are left staring as a list of used sources from the creative commons library appear on the screen, a final statement that what came before was a collage of the past and a prediction for the future.

-Patrick Cremin, 2014

Photos courtesy of D0cument Photography

Using Format