Perilous, Pliable, Projected
Catalogue essay for Casssandra Tytler's I Warned You, Gallery Titanik, Turku, Finland, June 2011
Just as no amount of hi-tech wig design and fast-cutting stunt-double trickery could save John Travolta and Nicolas Cage in Face/Off (1997) from appearing like your dad doing bad kung-fu tumble-rolls at the local petrol station, no amount of digital posting could ‘de-impress’ the wire work supporting Angelina Jolie’s lithe latexed body in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001). While dumb American’s insist on their pre-fabricated ‘dreams’ being ‘utterly realistic’ in the vicarious script-doctored nocturnal emissions screening in their collective cine-consciousness, they seem consistently blind to the material reality of the poseable doll-like figures parading as heroes and heroines in their cine-dreams. Angelina Joline as Lara Croft looks like a suburban secretary who has recently bought a Gloria Estefan Best Of CD doing rock-climbing on a hens’ night organized by 11 year old boys masturbating to secret camera footage of Angelina’s antics. Like all pliable idols, she does not strike a pose like Madonna: she is incessantly posed, held in place by World of Warcraft-playing slobs with bad breath who excrete their hi-tech compositing in cramped offices doing out-sourced work for major Hollywood studios.
Those guys – like the audiences who drool over the likes of Angelina – would probably laugh at the ‘B-Grade’ effects in seminal 50s movies like Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (1958) without realizing that they are ‘futur-fitting’ ‘B-Grade’ fare for future generations (or for those of us who thought The Matrix was crud when it came out). The saving grace of the idol/figurine projected into fantastic movie scenarios – especially when their situation is utterly impossible – is that they can reveal the material reality of their production while implausibly emoting a reaction to their unactual situation. Allison Hayes in Attack of the 50 Foot Woman looks like a 50s housewife on valium, slowly moving with vague motivation, never being clear on her actions and never convincingly destroying anything in her reach. She lunges like in a waking dream, half there, half-somewhere else. The cardboard around her wobbles in slo-mo; the slo-mo camera work prevents her from speaking, rendering her as a mysterious maternal mute of America’s post-war somnambulism.
Cassandra Tytler’s I Warned You highlights these schisms of unconvincing projection combined with delusional intent – particularly as depicted by the lineage of perilous Paulines acting melodramatically in non-threatening situations. As Cassandra beckons, cajoles, stomps and admonishes, we wonder what we did to anger her. What is this world of hers in which we are implicated? Well, if you can’t work that out, it’s your problem: you were warned.