jonCates’ 鬼鎮 (Ghosttown) at Negative Horizon, the 5th Annual Video Art Biennial in Taiwan (2016)

ABOVE: Excerpt from 鬼鎮 /_ģ̶̶̶Ꜧ̶Ø̶5̶5̶5̶7̶7̶7̶Ø̶W̶W̶W̶Ꜻ̶Ꜻ̶… /
(Ghost Town) by jonCates (2016)

“In Consuming the Apocalypse, Gwendolyn Audrey Foster writes on a particularly American preoccupation with the end of the world as a form of entertainment. Mediated versions of the Apocalypse often overlook the fact that the world has ended many times over. Many worlds no longer exist and have had their complete collapses. Many other worlds are in various states of collapse, falling down and being destroyed, most often by a complex set of internal and external forces. The United States of America is one such example of a fallen Empire in a state of collapse.

Scholars of histories recognize that the events of World War II involved two major holocausts. The systematic destruction of Jewish people by the Third Reich and the technologized destruction of the Japanese people in the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the American military-industrial-academic-entertainment complex. On the event of the destruction of these civilian urban centers, the United States forces immediately claimed a moral victory while rapidly deploying an already-prepared-for agenda of global imperial expansion which continues across the world into the present.

Meanwhile, in what is now called The Homeland, Americans breathed in an atmosphere of media culture, sustaining their fantasies of moral superiority. The war was waged again and again, via entertainment media in barely symbolic terms. In these restagings of the war, American forces uncritically won uncomplicated moral victories over and over again, in repetitive forms, on television and in the cinema. These simulated wars were won in the American imagination of a place that we refer to as “The Old West”, a vast illusion built by and for ideals of American Exceptionalism, Technopositivist models of social progress, and the brutally violent successes of a specific set of interests.

The United States is a harsh, violent and often unforgiving land, which, like a ghosttown, is haunted by 2 major unresolved national traumas: the ongoing genocide of the First Nations and the industry of slavery. The profound immoral violence of these events correspond with the ‘nation-building’ period of the United States, a historical period envisioned in the Western genre from which 鬼鎮 draws inspiration. Set in a glitched version of the “American Old West” 鬼鎮 reflects on the impacts, legacies and visualizations of class, race and violence in America and American media. In this context, we live in a glitch era in which we regularly experience breakages of signals, technologies and promises. Glitches and 『當機藝術』have become expressive shorthand for perpetual states and the omnipresent sense of collapse, failure and “glitched” or broken systems.” — jonCates (2016)

鬼鎮 or _ģ̶̶̶Ꜧ̶Ø̶5̶5̶5̶7̶7̶7̶Ø̶W̶W̶W̶Ꜻ̶Ꜻ̶… (pronounced “Ghost Town”) is a new multi-screen installation project by jonCates for Negative Horizon, the 5th Annual Video Art Biennial in Taiwan, October 2016.



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School of the Art Institute of Chicago; Film, Video, New Media and Animation dept; Art History, Theory and Criticism dept.