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sum of which exceeds the whole

April 4, 2012

The videos from Tahrir Sq, up loaded on the internet from any given day during the revolution could potentially provide the raw material for a multi-channel synchronized installation. There is sufficient footage of events across the globe with much less intensity that lend themselves to similar endeavors. The footage of an explosion of a mosque in Syria is available from a multiplicity of angles, all showing the flames and the smoke, while none show the explosion from within.

Hassan Khan’s The Hidden Location (2004) is a fifty-two minute four channel, synchronized video installation consisted of sixteen different sections one after the other. The piece challenges the allochronism of representation in contemporary art, and while this position entails immediate political implications, it addresses the uncoeval positions of the viewer/reader and the work of art on view. The Hidden Location on the one hand provides a medium consciousness where the viewer becomes an active agent in the process of montage and produces sequences according to his/her positions in the space. While on the other hand it questions the same agency as it makes clear the subject’s asynchronicity with the object of study at any given time. The latter questions the primacy of the temporal category of presence or rather makes visible the process of mapping of presence, commenting on how it is already implicated and/or is informed by experiences of the recent past (a passing remark to question the primacy of the eye). The reconstruction of the event thus requires synchronicity, experience of something at a given time, and asynchronicity, the privilege to revisit it, as you can watch a piece like The Hidden Location multiple times during an exhibition.

Hassan Khan, The Hidden Location, 2004, 4 channel video installation, installation view

One of the internal tensions of the work is that it questions both the idea of a privileged position AND a multiplicity of view points. If a panoramic view was to lead to in-depth understanding of a particular phenomenon then a combination of surveillance and counter surveillance could resolve the phenomenological discrepancies that propel the global media sphere that relies on visual and/or contextual interpolations. The desire for such panoramic vistas could simultaneously cause a political stalemate, where politics becomes the management of the archive of the visual, a multiplicity of parts the sum of which exceeds the whole.

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