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Monday, August 16, 2010

Are You Phil Collins?

Carl Morris by Jon PountneyCarl Morris compiles Sleeveface. This is the phenomenon of people photographing themselves or others with a record album cover positioned in front of them to line up somewhat accurately, replacing some body part, usually their head, with the album cover. I caught his attention intially by claiming I was, actually, Phil Collins, answering yes to that question at the bottom of the Sleeveface blog. In fact, philosophically, Sleeveface is exactly about answering that question. No matter what you think of his music.

Sleeveface, at once Magrittian in its corporal obscuration, is constantly subsuming and re-affirming layers - both of the visual and of Saussurean semiotics or, as it were, "meaning". In its active disruption of the visible yet non-visible "non-space" between perceptual lens and reappropriated artefact, participants (once viewers themselves) recontextuate in the role of recontextuatrix: recalling not only Brecht's fourth wall but the material objects which in their recapitulation/recontextualisation sublimate to the role of the wall (Gilmore and Waters, 1979). Thus we plunge into the causa sine qua non. Sleeveface, qua Sleeveface, merely places theaforementioned artefact among - in its most visceral forms - reverential contexts. There is however a high degree of possible further disruption to the Baudrillardian simulacrum in the temporal lag between the impression of the performer and signifying act. Notably, an incidental price sticker bearing the imperative "Save TheChildren" takes on overtones, undertones, new meanings, shades of meaning and non-meanings, irrespective of altruistic intention in relation to the elderly lady who - in the highly expectant yet undeniably quotidian context of the local charity shop - originally placed it. Collins can be said to signify this illusion/allusion, almost pre-emptively, in his works Face Value (1981), No Jacket Required (1984) and Both Sides (1993). In the digital form, Sleeveface images disperse these syncretisms and thereafter take root in the liminal-vernacular space only to be uprooted by the psychogeography teacher. As Husserl made clear in his Logische Untersuchungen (paraphrasing): "I am not Saussure. You don't know Jacques", in clear reference to Derrida, or more succinctly in other treatments absolutely Foucault.


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