the black box2018
6 channel video on infinite loop
Soundtrack composition: a single metronome ticking, slow transition into two metronomes ticking out of sync, layered with the sound of cutting cardboard (the creation of the box) and then lighting a match, repeat.
This work is central to madness, insanity, psychological interiority, puppetry, and confinement. Extending upon big emotion (2018), where I abstracted MRI scans of a bipolar patient experiencing high and lows, I want to zoom out from the patient level and focus at the level of an institution, shedding light to mental health and prison reform. In computer science, a black box represents an abstract space where there is a known input and output, however the process to transform the inputs and outputs becomes a blur.
The mental hospital, a place for social deviants, is where pain and suffering is framed as natural and inevitable. I have a problem with the way psychiatry is established in the US and my heart breaks for those -- caretakers, physicians, families and ESPECIALLY the patients -- who are part of that community. I believe that psychiatry supports capitalism by ‘diagnosing’ socially-created problems as individual biological defects, providing loose ‘evidence’ for blaming the victims of the system. This is not to say that biology plays no role in emotion/behavior/psychiatry, it definitely does. However, there is a problem when mental illness is simply medicalization, as if that could be the catch-all, band-aid solution, because it is not. Suffering will always be rampant, but I believe that not all ‘suffering’ is ‘mental illness’. I was always a fan on Andrew Brammer, who writes Psychiatric Hegemony, and he comments that medicalization of suffering has penetrated every aspect of society, to the point that sufferers ‘diagnose’ themselves and each other. So, the world has simply set up a box for mentally ill patients to be trapped into until they reach “normality”. I want to argue that external wordly injustices and stresses (such as poverty, war, sexual assault, abuse, addiction-related coping mechanisms) that are the actual main drivers of the escalating patient count in mental hospitals, as well as growing the psychiatric industry.