Magazine article Artforum International

William E. Jones: VW (VENEKLASEN/WERNER)

Magazine article Artforum International

William E. Jones: VW (VENEKLASEN/WERNER)

Article excerpt

"I announce the destruction of the cinema, the first apocalyptic sign of disjunction, the rupture of this bloated organism known as a film." These forceful words emanated from loudspeakers in a monotone computer voice in the video installation Discrepancy, 2009-, the centerpiece of William E. Jones's first solo show in Berlin. The text is not by Jones, however, but by Isidore Isou, the founding father of Lettrism, the radical literary and artistic movement now mainly remembered as a precursor to Situationism. And yet Isou's manifesto-like call, taken from the film Traite de have et d'eternite (Treatise on Venom and Eternity, 1951), to break apart the unity of image and sound in the name of a "cinema discrepant" here served as godfather to Jones's potentially infinite work. Jones is quite serious about carrying out Isou's call for a nuclear fission of the medium of film, and in a parallel projection of the (to date) six parts of his work--all of identical length and with Isou's manifesto as voice-over--he presents archival footage that is not only seemingly but actually and quite deliberately incoherent, putting to the test the relationship between word and image, again and again, a bit differently each time. This starts on the far right screen with footage from a press conference. It appears as if the words of Isou's manifesto are coming from the lips of the official spokesman. The process ends on the left with the abstract, pixelated patterns that arise when one rewinds a Mini-DV cassette. Between these two extremes of the arbitrary, resolutely nonnarrative coupling of image and sound, one sees all manner of footage from old propaganda films, especially from Vietnam and China (with the material often showing signs of damage), as well as a projection that with its many back-to-back leader sequence countdowns looks like a self-reflexive loop. …

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