I Am

I Am
Single-channel high-definition digital video
2:49 minutes (looped), 16:9, colour, silent
Edition of 4 +1 AP

I doubt cut/copy and paste; therefore, I think enable Capital to become the default form of cultural exchange, therefore I am.

I’m interested in the play between originality and imitation—the copy of a copy of a copy of a copy (forever repeating for aeons and aeons)—throughout the history of art. There is no art, or art history, without borrowing, appropriation, fraud, plagiarism, and theft. Art, especially digitally-derived art (and music), is a mashup of aesthetic approaches that question authorship, while relying on the authority of the original for validation. However, more than that, I hope the work is about exploring eternal questions about existence. Questions such as, if we had no sense of self—and instead perceived everything as interconnected—would we view global issues, such as climate change, the AIDS epidemic, income disparity, or swelling human population and finite resources differently? These aren’t absurd philosophical questions either, as the concept of a global crisis—from financial to infectious disease—reveals the fact that we live in an extremely (economically) interconnected world. Moreover, according to contemporary cognitive science, the concept of self is just an illusion generated by our brain to make sense of our thoughts and the world around us. Whilst an illusion, it is not meaningless—in evolutionary terms, it provides an incentive to survive and reproduce—yet moral lessons can be drawn from an awareness that the self is an artificial image. To explore this, I playfully proclaim—and by doing so question—who I am by sampling several hundred ‘I am’ statements from BBC World News articles. The quotes—from reportage covering voices from every corner of the globe—delicately reveal contemporary challenges to be universal, complex, and impossible to comprehend in isolation. I’m interested in focusing on similarities within and between human populations, while at the same time valuing differences. Thus, the work is a feeble attempt to underscore the division and general fracturing away from a desire for inclusion within the fold of universal humankind that seems to be happening on both sides of the political spectrum. Moreover, rather than representing the word of God—ego eimi (I am, or I exist) was recorded to have been spoken by Jesus on numerous occasions—I view the words as our collective struggle to find meaning in a meaningless universe. The human condition is a bit of a banal topic in contemporary art; however, it is a subject I can only ever hope to scarcely grasp, so while the idea was with me, I wanted to explore it. Besides, for me, there is no better philosophical topic to depart than Descartes proposition: cogito, ergo sum. Or, Trump’s much less thought-provoking assertion, “I am a Tariff Man”, which he Tweeted to threaten China and further boost his crusade to destabilise the world. Coincidentally, this happened while I was in Beijing participating in the Red Gate Gallery residency program and creating the work.


This wanker: