ISOS takes the world and characters from the apocalyptic science-fiction novels of James Graham Ballard as a starting point. The English writer J.G. Ballard (1930-2009) wrote magic realistic stories and autobiographical works, but is known primarily for his intelligent, visionary descriptions of a future world that resembles today’s neoliberal society more and more. Crash is probably his most widely-known novel as a result of the scandal caused by David Cronenbergh’s 1973 film version. In Millennium People (2003) Ballard describes the terrorist acts of the well-off middle-class residents of a London neighbourhood. When journalist Wouter Van Driessche of De Standaard looked for the root causes of the London riots in August 2011, he wrote: “The looters were not only the disadvantaged youth, they came from all segments of our society. (...) This has nothing to do with social inequality or segregation. It is about something much more diffuse—a kind of nihilistic boredom and a deep blurring of moral standards. To understand these riots, one does not have to read Karl Marx, but rather JG Ballard.”
For ISOS, one of the most important elements in Ballard’s oeuvre is the aggression masked by the standardisation, regularity and security of suburbia and, by extension, the Western world. We encounter Ballard’s obsession with the middle class in another guise in today’s (international) politics. Two ‘middle class characters’, a man and a woman, will appear in different apocalyptic situations. Their relationship is defined by a mutual abuse of power; they are not victims, but are responsible for their own environment. They embody the apocalypse. Their twisted relationship and psyches reflect the “Unheimlich” quality of a completely unlivable outside world.
STEREOGRAPHY / 3D
It could be said that 3D images imply a different film idiom. Hollywood has already realised that the latest 3D bubble was no more than a hype. The BBC has halted its 3D broadcasts. It is possible that as a medium, stereography (the technical term for 3D) is so different that it does not work in the classic viewing set-up of TV and cinema. In many recent 3D films, while there is depth in the landscapes, the characters still look like cardboard cut-outs. These facts encourage us to use and explore 3D even more. In this project, a different approach is taken to stereography, more as an independent medium than a spectacular box of tricks for the cinema. There is a link with the ‘badly made’ early science fiction typified by the work of George Méliès, which is, rather, an alienating viewing experience for the contemporary viewer. By far-reaching, high technological stereograpy, Kris Verdonck wants to make Ballards’ futuristic dream come true. A ruptured utopie in 3D.
LIVING SCULPTURES / FINAL INSTALLATION
The boxes have peepholes at the top through which the viewer observes the strange little people at the bottom of the box, as if they were under a microscope. All scenes are shot from an omniscient bird’s eye/God’s eye perspective which creates an “objective” view of reality. The situation is reminiscent of the Eadweard Muybridge experiments– a scientific point of view where the drama is absent. There is no more than the recording of a ‘real’ situation. Muybridge’s technique finds its way into ISOS through the grid of white lines against which the scenes are set, as if in a laboratory setting.
In Kris Verdonck’s video work, architecture often plays a major role. The frame of the film image and the “walls” (i.e. of the boxes) coincide. The characters are aware of their limitations in this claustrophobic setting. The dioramas are transformed into moving sculptures. Through the process of registration, the subjects in the boxes become sculptures.
BOXES / CONTAINERS
ISOS means ‘equal’ in Greek. Shipping containers and their industrial standardisation may well be one of the most important inventions of the twentieth century. In ISOS, the whole world is standardised, and the middle class and the regular life of the suburbs provide the norm. In this light, the grid on the inside of the exhibition box is an imperative measure. The content is adapted to the measurements – animals, machines, objects, people, stereography – and all are defined by the same standard. People seem only like insects, a burning sparkler as big as a tree; the revolution on television.