May 2012 for Mejan Residents magazine
Kim West: The project you are working on at the KKH has the working title "Why Is There Something Rather Than Nothing", and consists largely of film. Can you explain this a little further?
Linda Persson: I've always been interested in the breakdown of language and our embodied relation to historical monuments and ruins. I attempt to investigate these phenomena in relation to our contemporary technological context. This forms the framework for the project that I am currently working on. Languages and technologies are constantly hybridising as time passes. They can become forgotten or extinct. It creates a loss, as it is not used anymore, because something else has taken over. Take e.g kulning, ancient Scandinavian vocalizations for controlling animal herds or communicating across landscapes. This language is no longer needed because of changes in communication, such as mobile telephony. I am interested in how we attach such great hopes for the progression of technology. We trust that everything will work out by those means, though we know it doesn’t offer us the perfection proposed. It is these tendencies I am interested in. How can we explain these phenomena in relation to each other?
KW: Most of your projects so far seem to be about disappearance. Something that had meaning loses it and becomes pure matter, or even wiped out altogether. So there is a reflection on entropy of things, about the finitude and decay. What interests me is that you seem to connect those reflections to an attempt to consider dematerialisation of culture, with digital technologies and networks.
LP: That's correct. Technology and its inconsistency have always been important to me. As an artist, a form of recovery can be introduced through obsolete technology, once considered complete. A piece of mine called Disappearance of the World, Resemblance of the Object - Cradle Game, consists of three TV-monitors showing the same video image that plays the game paper, scissor, stone. The video is shown through two DVD players that start simultaneously, but as this technology is already outmoded, they fail to synchronize for a longer period as the looping creates a drift in speed, so what appears on the screen is that the hands start playing the game for real.
KW: You could read all this as a matter of finitude. When things are dematerialized and digitized to an increasing extent, you forget about their finitude and fallibility: that everything inevitably breaks down, decays, disintegrates. Is this a question that interests you?
LP: In parallel with my art, I have worked for a few years at Tate installation, mainly with the preparation and preservation of time-based media art. Tate has been developing methods to preserve these forms of art. There is a constant need to research, to find solid and safe sollutions for these forms, which can be challenging, like e.g. artists who used some early, today lost media technologies - like Nam June Paik, for example. We still know that the film celluloid is the most durable, and with a cool storage one can be sure that the film will be preserved for at least 120 years- reproducing them is another question. My interest in this is reflected in my art and in my project at KKH, with regard to Derrida's notion of Hauntology. Using the Spectral logic can act as a guide to liberate the arts - they can become independent rather than further rooted in capitalism - because it returns from the past and has potential to disrupt already stable forms.
KW: So you set two types of entropy against each other: digital entropy and physical entropy? In the film, in the current project, there are both digital video and celluloid, for example.
LP: Yes, exactly. We are acutely aware that we all have an end. I feel that we chose to neglect this fact. Our obsession of buying acts as a sort of prolongation of life. It's like when you buy a new computer, you must also purchase the new software as the old and new are likely to have incompatibilities. We are then at the mercy of capitalism, which controls the way we lead our life. For me this is an issue. It is a question of bringing the body back into action and to reinforce a physical and cognitive memory alike. I hope that my investigation through filmic and digital processes will permeate this.