The Department of Smoke and Mirrors, installation view. Davis Museum at Wellesley College, Spring 2012.
Jenny Schmid and Ali Momeni The Department of Smoke and Mirrors
February 15 - June 3, 2012

The Department of Smoke and Mirrors (DSM) is a meditation on the effects of contemporary media on our collective and individual relationships with contemporary political discourse and action. This work draws on the spectacle of journalistic firepower that hijacks today’s politics: from Washington and Wall Street to the network of satellites and screens that report, to the protests that Occupy, the whole world is watching what a few of us are producing.  DSM is comprised of animated video— featuring a parade of sprinting demons, crowds responding chaotically, and images from recent protests— projected onto a vellum scroll hanging from the ceiling; the scroll is faced by surveillance cameras which feed back into the projection, causing repetition and distortion of the image.  The audience can walk through the spectacle, causing even further video distortion chaos as the surveillance cameras read and the software loops and layers their physical interference with the spectacle. This project investigates the relationship between authority, protest, the lens, and the screen.  The rhizome of surveilled objects and subjects in this work reflects on a culture where there is no time or distance separating the artifact, from the experience, from the spin. This exhibition is generously supported by Wellesley College Friends of Art.