Media Attention brings together three emerging artists who, in very different ways, appropriate the strategies of contemporary popular culture. Continuing the tradition of Pop Art, the artists presented here explore the extent to which popular culture forms and informs the contemporary psyche. Producing medium-reflexive work, they co-opt the rhetoric of television, music and film, highlighting slippages between fantasy and reality in everyday life.
, is Richard Dedomenici
’s most ambitious project to date. Realized in collaboration with Channel 4 and National Refugee Week, Dedomenici has formed a fledgling boy band comprised of four young asylum seekers. Working within the realm of socially engaged art, Dedomenici attempts to raise awareness around the complex socio-political issue of immigration.
The project encompasses a documentary that follows the band’s progress, through their debut single, promotional merchandise and live performances. It also deploys the consumptive power of pop music and television programmes such as Fame Academy and Pop Idol to generate media attention.
Dedomenici appropriates the language of pop culture on a number of levels, playing with and exposing the self-perpetuating force of mass media. Creating a complex system of mimicry, subversion and manipulation, he not only pinpoints the role popular culture plays in identity perception, but also uses press and television coverage as a means of disseminating the work.
Through the documentation of performative acts, the video works of David Blandy
also raises questions about the exploitation or celebration of other cultures. Often recording himself lip-synching to the lyrics of pop songs or well-known film scenes, Blandy’s videos and related projects question the extent to which the self is formed through the ubiquity of mass media, records, films and television.
In his recent series The Barefoot Lone Pilgrim
, Blandy adopts an alter ego in the search for self-discovery and enlightenment. The pilgrim is an exaggerated version of the artist, dressed in orange Shaolin Kung-fu robes and listening to soul and hip-hop on a portable record player. Shown here, The Way of the Barefoot Lone Pilgrim: The Soul of London
, follows the pilgrim’s journey through London guided by cinematic heroes such as Bruce Lee and Kaine from the 70s TV show Kung Fu, and the philosophy of rappers KRS-ONE and Raekwon the Chef.
Through appropriation, sampling and referencing, Blandy attempts to unravel his problematic relationship to a series of cultural languages including hip-hop, soul and kung fu. His work highlights the slippages between his aspirations, affiliations and his physical reality, and as such emphasizes the tension between reality and fiction in contemporary culture.
The work of Ben Young
pushes this slippage into fantasy even further. In his latest film The Sons of l’Homme Doré
, Young has created his own myth, a sci-fi film written, directed and starring himself and employing his family as supporting cast and production crew. Within an alternative reality, Young constructs for himself an empowered male role, rendering visual the notion of man as strong, adventurous and in charge of his own destiny.
In The Sons of l’Homme Doré
, Young takes as his starting point a state of male pathological narcissism. Based on narratives of male development, the film is intended as a sequel to a sci-fi story that was originally published in the 1950’s, within which we follow the life of the Golden Man, an über-survivor of an atomic war.
Young’s film continues the story through the sons of the Golden Man, updated with twenty-first century technology. We follow our heroes on their adventure through the land of computer animation, surreal cut ‘n’ pastes and digital Technicolor. Narration by the actor Brian Blessed carries us through the pastiche of both high and low cultural references and uneasy co-existence between self-aware narcissism and a threatened masculinity.