Artist: Sean Snyder
Exhibition title: Eye of The Huracán
Venue: SCHLOSS, Oslo, Norway
Date: November 25 – December 24, 2016
Photography: all images copyright and courtesy of the artist and SCHLOSS
Sean Snyder takes a critical approach to the media technologies that underpin the everyday circulation of images. In Eye of The Huracán these efforts are focused on networks and the exchange-value of the information they store and transmit. Here, surveillance and storage intersect with Cold War mythologies and militarized security measures, while information itself appears to be ever more commodified.
Snyder’s video Cloud Sediment (Gstaad) documents the almost undisturbed surface of a data storage facility, hidden deep inside a mountain in the Swiss Alps. Cloud based computing and “big data” are commonly conceptualized through notions of dispersion and immateriality. Drone-footage of the facility marketed as “The Swiss Fort Knox” – serves to highlight the material supports of such information systems, while simultaneously emphasizing data as a surveillance tool and potential surveillance target. The company operating the datacenter lists an impressive number of militarized security features, including resistance to electro-magnetic, nuclear or biological attack. This has led Snyder to speculate on what the value of the data contained within would be, if such an attack was ever to occur.
In Snyder’s work the distinction between image and information is seldom straightforward. The two are often made interchangeable, and in some cases can even become detached. This is the case with 0.99€, which features a screenshot from the Apple iTunes Store interface, displaying the option to purchase a recording of John Cage’s composition 4’33”. This image draws the status of the recording into question, as Cage’s stated intention of shifting the listener’s attention to the non-silence of her surroundings effectively nullifies the need for playback of the recording. The block of digital audio data purchased from Apple has been re-mastered and integrated into the edit of Cloud Sediment (Gstaad).
The theme of networks and databases is explored in Network (Les Animaux De La Ferme), which references a 1974 work by Marcel Broodthaers. The Broodathaers’ print displays a taxonomy of cow breeds, replacing the names with car manufactures, highlighting the possibility of discontinuity between words and images. Following Broodthaers’ model, Snyder displays various fishing lures, subtitled with a host of communication devices, technical apparatuses, and chemical elements that are engaged in the global mobility and exchange of information, foregrounding the often-idiosyncratic links that occur across seemingly unrelated objects and materials.
The political transition from direct threats of military violence to oblique models of surveillance and information warfare, can be traced when considering an image of the riveted steel underbelly of a Northrop F5-A fighter jet, alongside Snyder’s other motifs such a drones and militarized datacenters. The now outmoded jet was introduced as a low-budget option for American allies such as Norway during the height of the Cold War era, when direct conflict seemed far more likely.
The title of the exhibition is derived from a series of failed attempts at hiring a Lamborghini Huracán for use in an artistic intervention exploring sign value and the recycling of natural metaphors into technological brands. Schloss’ gallery space was previously a Porsche repair shop, contributing to the measurements and traces that can be found inscribed throughout multiple layers of Snyder’s work. This is perhaps what structures the exhibition as a lure. In today’s hypermediation calm is a virtual and temporary transient zone, where one may end up by accident or after many failed attempts. The day following the opening and Black Friday there will be a visit to the Drøbak Aquarium to calm the eye and see through walls: http://mnemosynedrone.info/m/drobak_akvarium
– Nicholas Norton
Sean Snyder (b. 1972, Virgina Beach) lives and works in Berlin
Sean Snyder, 0.99€, Framed b/w archival pigment prints on matte paper, 51 x 67 cm
Sean Snyder, Cloud Sediment (Gstaad), 16:9 format HD video, 7 minutes 47 seconds, b/w and color audio, 180 x 320 cm projection (50 cm from floor) on wall painted RAL 7043 (Gris Signalisation, Traffic Grey, Verkehrsgrau)
Sean Snyder, Kireji, , Framed b/w archival pigment prints on matte paper, 8 x 14.25 cm
Sean Snyder, Mnemosynedrone (Metadata), Vinyl sticker, 10 x 10 cm
Sean Snyder, Network (Les Animaux De La Ferme), Framed b/w archival pigment prints on matte paper, 101 x 163 cm
Sean Snyder, Norwegian Aviation Museum, (Northrop F5A), Framed b/w archival pigment prints on matte paper, 63 x 101 cm
Sean Snyder, Hook, Line and Sinker, Lead and aluminium fishing lure, fishing line, site-specific outdoor installation, Dimensions variable