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Ken Feingold

Ken Feingold: Eros and Thanatos Falling/Flying
2.11 - 10.12 2006

For Mejan Labs, Ken Feingold will premiere a new work in his Eros and Thanatos series, entitled Eros and Thanatos Falling/Flying. Two ventriloquist puppets are suspended from the ceiling, one in each room of Mejan Labs, so that they appear to fly or fall. This ambivalence, a balance between two opposites, is something that can be found many of Feingold's pieces. The mythical characters of Eros and Thanatos were used by Freud in his formulation of drive theory, metaphorically representing the fundamental biological energies. On the one hand, Eros: life, creativity, growth, and increase of tension, and on the other, Thanatos: the movement towards homeostasis (elimination of all tensions), dissolution, negation, and death. Psychoanalysts who follow Freud's ideas have characterised these notions in many different ways, but fundamentally agree that we are constantly driven between stimulation and action by a balance of the forces of these energies, neither one ever found in its completely pure state.

In Feingold's installation there is an ongoing dialogue between the two puppets, with the emphasis being placed on the tensions between them. They are discussing, or perhaps even singing, refrains about their relationship, with phrases such as "You make me so crazy" and "You make me feel so good" to more erotic exchanges and expressions of desire.

So you make me so crazy
Once I said so
You just are so hard to know so
I should not want to have to have you
So I could have to have you so
I need you so
You need me to want to have you
So I could always have you when I want you so
When I want to kill you, you want me so
You make me so crazy

This dialogue is not pre-recorded but generated by the computer in real-time, running a programme developed by Feingold that examines the text just spoken and, according to certain algorithms, draws upon databases of words and syntaxes to create the lyrics. The song of the puppets is in this way neither scripted nor totally random, whilst simultaneously it constantly changes. Although the puppets follow each other, their communication is dysfunctional. This interests Feingold, as in his works he continually returns to situations where communication fails, when words lose their meaning and the participants go from an engaged conversation to set themselves on "automatic".

"Eros and Thanatos at Sea" (detail), 2004. ventriloquist puppets, fishing net, computers, electronics, 22 channel sound installation


Published 20090213

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